Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Gagne's Nine Events as I see it

Gagne's nine events:
  • Gain Attention
  • State the objective
  • Ensure recall of prior learning
  • Present stimuli
  • Provide learning guidance
  • Elicit performance
  • Provide feedback
  • Assess performance
  • Enhance retention and transfer
Lets us see whether these nine events still hold good in today's learning environment.

Gain Attention
I am a huge fan of this strategy. Begin with a bang. The first few minutes of a training program is the most crucial as the learner judges what is yet to come based on what is presented. You need to ensure that you grab the learner's interest and make the learner curious to see what may come ahead.

State Objective
I do not believe in stating the objectives as "At the end of the module, you will be able to blah, blah, blah". I think the gain attention also plays the role of helping the learner understand what the goal of the course is. It need not be stated overtly as long as the learner can see the relevance. If you have to state the objectives, do so differently. Read Michael Allen's book Guide to elearning to understand better. He has written this section beautifully.

Another interesting way to look at this would be... list the objectives depending on your learner. If they are the no nonsense types who like to see things upfront or if they are firm believers of traditional elearning, show it to them.

Ensure Recall of Prior Learning
This step also helps check where the learners are. However, learner analysis will tell you best where they are. So I rephrase to say it is a good opportunity to let the learner judge for him/herself where he or she stands.

Present Stimuli
I always thought this was interestingly phrased. This doesn't mean just display content. This means provide the learner with information that will make him/her think. Use the most effective strategy to ensure that the learner thinks, not reads or sees.

Provide Learning Guidance
This suits a classroom training better or may also be applicable for programs in which learner has access to trainers or instructors. You don't need to provide extra guidance if your strategy is good. But this again depends on your learners. If they require extra guidance, you must ensure that your learning solution provides this.

Elicit Performance
Provide challenging exercises to ensure that the learner gets an opportunity to check what he/she has learned.

Provide Feedback
Provide effective feedback to ensure that the learning outcomes are met.

Assess Performance
Gagne probably meant this to be the final examinations or assessments. As I see it, this would be performance in the real environment. This is monitored and checked.

Enhance Retention and Transfer
Performance assessment helps in retention and transfer of learning.

The only issue with Gagne's nine events is that it is unidirectional. The best solution would be to make it more iterative. Tests or practices and feedback sharing need not happen at the end of the program.

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