Understanding Learning Cycle to Design Effective E-Learning Courses

Designing Courseware Based on Cognitive Load Theory

Understanding Learning Cycle to Design Effective E-Learning Courses

The whole of life, from the moment you are born to the moment you die, is a process of learning.

– Jiddu Krishnamurthi 

Understanding Learning Cycle to Design Effective E-Learning Courses

People have different learning styles and acquire new knowledge and skills through their experiences. This concept of how people learn from their experiences is referred to as the Learning Cycle. Ongoing research on learning theory highlights the importance of how the phases of the learning cycle can be used for making learner centric e-learning courses.

We should be aware of these phases in the learning cycle and understand how to apply them in the course design. All these phases constitute an effective learning experience and an effective eLearning course must in turn address all of these phases for a successful training delivery. Let’s take a deeper look into this:

The learning cycle consists of four prominent phases. They are:

  1. Review
  2. Learning
  3. Application and
  4. Adaptation

Let’s see about each of these phases in detail.

1. Review (Why)

Bridging the gap between what the learners already know and what they have to know is the first step towards creating an effective learning experience. This phase is called the review phase and it is the first phase of the learning cycle. This phase includes introduction and setting the context.

It answers the question “Why?”

To apply this to designing eLearning courses, begin your eLearning course in such a way that it grabs the learners’ attention. We begin our courses by writing learning objectives. Effective and well written learning objectives make the learners understand what they will be able to do after completing the course and help them retain high motivation levels.

2. Learning (What)

What the learner will learn by the end of the learning constitutes the entire learning experience. In the learning cycle, the second phase is the phase of Information Transfer or Knowledge Acquisition. This is the largest section in the learning cycle as it presents the entire content.

This phase answers the question “What?”

Applying this to designing eLearning courses, the concepts, procedures, processes, or principles related to the topic can be effectively addressed in this phase by presenting the content to learners in an engaging way. This can be done by presenting content in the form of stories, scenarios, videos etc.

3. Application (How)

Helping learners understand how to apply their newly acquired skills to their day to day responsibilities constitutes the third phase of the learning cycle, application. During this phase, learners develop an understanding of how to apply the new knowledge and skills acquired.

This phase answers the question “How?”

Applying this to designing eLearning courses, present content effectively in such a way that makes the learners think and analyze how they can apply the acquired knowledge and skills. This can be done by using assessments, puzzles, case studies, activities etc. in the courses.

4. Adaptation (Now What)

The last but the most important phase for performance improvement, which completes the learning cycle is adaptation. During this phase, learners adapt what they have learnt in their workplaces.

This phase answers the question “Now what?”

Applying this to designing eLearning courses, you can address this phase by providing Job aids, guides, guidelines, handouts, criteria lists or toolkits which serve as a reference to the learners’ even after the course completion. They serve as manuals and help the learners’ in taking up the tasks at their workplace with more ease and comfort.

Here’s an infographic which gives an overview of the four phases of learning cycle.

The four phases of learning cycle

I’m sure by now you are aware of how understanding the learning cycle helps design effective eLearning courses. Do share your thoughts.

Happy Learning!!

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