Half a century has passed since educational psychologist Robert Gagné published his influential book, The Conditions of Learning, but his ideas are relevant to online and hybrid learning even today. He presciently wrote, “The real point to be made is that use of a variety of instructional modes is both feasible and potentially effective. . . . What is needed in each case is thoughtful design and management of the learning environment.”
Gagné popularized the concept of nine “instructional events.” Each represents a step in the teaching and learning process:
- Gain learners’ attention
- Inform students of learning objective
- Stimulate recall of prior knowledge
- Present stimulus material (content)
- Provide learning guidance
- Elicit performance (practice)
- Provide feedback
- Assess performance
- Enhance retention and transfer
Do you regularly use these steps in your courses? To address this question, you might consider what your students experience as they work through a typical weekly module in one of your Canvas course sites:
Are they aware of weekly learning outcomes? If not, state them in a weekly overview that serves as the first page in each Canvas module!
How do you gain their attention? Through video, audio, images, interactivity?
Do you use your students’ prior knowledge as a scaffold for the learning in your course? In fact, do you make it a point to assess what they know at the outset your course?
Beyond simply presenting content, how do you provide substantial learning guidance? Do you foster active learning through online interaction student-to-student, student-to-content and student-to-instructor?
Do you frequently assess performance and provide feedback? Do you use weekly quizzes and/or low-stakes writing or problem-solving exercises?
Ultimately, over the course of a term, have you blazed a trail that fully supports your students’ retention and transfer? If so, bravo!
And, for a light-hearted view of teaching and learning, here’s a 3-minute video that will definitely gain your attention and may well enhance your retention of this post: Gagné’s 9 Events Featuring Cats