Adam Avramescu 00:00
Welcome to CELab, the customer education lab, where we take customer education myths and misconceptions and throw them in the trash. I’m your host Adam Avramescu. Today I will be doing a solo episode as we do from time to time here on national bean day. Yes, that is beans as in kidney or garbanzo, or baked beans like the recent fracas on Twitter with Bean Dad, look it up. If you haven’t heard of it, I am sure that by the time this episode airs, people will have long forgotten about that. But oh my gosh, what a wild ride it has been. Anyway, we are doing an episode today that we do from time to time and looking at our analytics has actually proven to be pretty popular. And this is our instructional design 101 series where we introduce customer educators, or refreshed customer educators. In some cases, a lot of you know these already about some of the key instructional design techniques and how we carry them into our work specifically in customer education. And as has become a mini tradition on these episodes, we kind of start with, with a mea culpa. Last time we did one of these episodes, I had to apologize for a mistake I made in the previous one. And today, I have to admit an error, which is that fairly recently in Episode 50, our anniversary special. We were doing a lightning round and I choked under pressure. I said when when I was asked what my favorite 90s TV show was I paused and My mind went blank. And I think I said Daria, I did say Daria, completely forgetting that the Simpsons was an iconic TV show that aired throughout the 90s pretty much defined the 90s I think in terms of TV shows, and which I am constantly referencing in passing comments. definitely do not want to shortchange The Simpsons there. Alright, let’s get into it. So today, we’re going to be talking about Gagne’s nine events of instruction. This is a little bit different from some of the other models that we’ve covered in the past. So in previous episodes of this series, we have talked about Bloom’s taxonomy, and Kirkpatrick, four levels of evaluation, those models, you could kind of consider them to be models of evaluation. So and I don’t know, I might get crap from this on Twitter, if, if people hear me lump them in together, but fundamentally, when you’re using Bloom’s taxonomy, you’re using it to define what sort of output do I want from this instruction? Like when I’m designing the learning, what learning objective? Am I am I structuring this around? So it’s it’s part informing the design and the content and how you’re going to teach. But fundamentally, it’s kind of what’s the outcome of the training that you want, or of the instructional event? And Kirkpatrick is sort of looking beyond that and saying, Okay, how are we going to measure those outputs. So, you know, let’s look at the learners satisfaction and the reaction, let’s look all the way down in the the outcome or the business results of that training. Now, Gagne’s events of instruction, I put kind of in a different category, because this is, in my mind purely about how we actually structure content during one of our trainings. So this really is a framework that we can use to almost sequence, any training or kind of instructional program into some key steps or events that will ultimately promote healthier learning. Again, not every training that we do has to follow these nine events hard and fast. And in fact, I’ll talk a little bit about how we modify some of these within the realm of customer education, but it’s important to know the rules before you break them. And this is based on research that Gagne did on the conditions that lead to most effective learning over time. So what are the nine events, I’ll read them in order and then we can kind of group group them a little bit, because these are typically sequence throughout an actual training event or an intervention. So the nine events are: #1 is gaining attention. #2 is the learning objective or informing learners of the objective? #3 is you stimulate recall of prior learning. #4 is you present a stimulus #5 is you provide learning guidance. #6 is you then elicit performance. #7 is you provide feedback on that performance. #8 is you assess performance, and #9 is you focus on retention and transfer. Okay, so what does that all mean? Well, let’s start with number one. gain your learner’s attention. This is one that it’s it’s really easy for us to miss and to forget, but just like anything, we are going to be less conducive to Learning or engaging with something if we’re not paying attention to it right? This is why when you read a novel, for instance, or you watch a movie, often they’ll start with that in medias res, probably pronouncing that wrong. That’s I think that’s Latin- the technique where, you know, you start where the action is, and then you’ll kind of go through the action and the heroes, you know, escaping from the burden burning building, and then they’ll have the title card that comes on and says “six months earlier” and then you’ll kind of go back chronologically to the beginning of the story. And why are they doing that? they’re doing that to hook your attention. Because if they started the movie, or the TV show, or whatever it is, with the, you know, the character waking up and eating breakfast, you know, that’s not necessarily the most exciting place of the story to start. And it’s not necessarily what’s going to feel most relevant, and learning because the same way we we underestimate the power of storytelling techniques in learning a lot of the time, and we think of it very procedurally. So this is one thing that is really easy to start incorporating into your actual learning design, I say easy, it’s easy to commit to do it, it’s not always easy to do it in practice, because if you’re training on a topic that is super dry, and super boring, you’re not always going to find the most exciting thing to be able to start with. But I do think if you put some time into thinking about this in your learning design, you will find a piece that it’s at least very relevant or a hook for the learner. So you know, next time you’re starting a course, and you start with a list of the learning objectives, or a very dry statement, like in this course, we will focus on blah, blah, blah, blah, blah, that’s not necessarily going to be the most exciting thing for the learner, it’s not going to be the most relevant and you’re not necessarily hooking them, what you’re signaling to them with a dry opening like that is typically, this is the exact type of elearning that you’re used to and that you don’t want to take or this is going to be one of those really dry instructor led courses. That is how you’re going to, you’re going to sleep through. So let’s not do that. Let’s start with what’s relevant. Let’s start by telling an interesting story about how learning these skills will be relevant to you, or the types of things that can be done when you acquire these skills, or maybe even something controversial, or, or interesting, because once you have their attention, it’s going to be a lot easier to do the rest of it. You could do this even through icebreakers. Although I personally prefer when the attention getter is more relevant to the actual learning that’s being done. So like, you could you could start by asking like a, an interesting question to the group in letting them kind of answer, it could be a story, it could be, you know, sometimes you start with a really tough challenge or a problem statement for them to solve something that you know, they’re not going to be able to solve at the beginning of the course. And now their minds are kind of around it right, by the end of the course, they should be able to solve this problem. there is value in some courses, especially with a kind of challenge oriented learners of actually starting with a really tough problem for them to grapple with. Okay, so that’s one thing that that first of all, I just see a lot of people do not do they skip straight to typically what is step two, which is the learning objectives. So Gagne, I think, has a pretty key insight here that learners aren’t really going to care about the learning objectives until you have first gotten their attention. So okay, now that you have their attention, let’s tell them what the objectives of the courses and most of the trainings I see. And that you probably see, to have the typical learning objective side, by the end of this course, the learner will be able to XYZ and XYZ are usually verbs, look at the verbs, their verbs like, understand, or know, or maybe comprehend. And, again, those are not super performance oriented. We talked about this a little bit in the Bloom’s Taxonomy episode, where, ultimately, yes, you might want them to know or understand, but a lot of times in customer education, we’re really trying to prove that we are and again, this isn’t just customer education. I think this is true for a lot of l&d. We’re not just trying to check the boxes and inform our audience of something, we really want them to be able to change their behavior, we want them to do something differently. So I encourage anyone who’s doing the sort of instructional design to only use, you know, know and understand and learning objectives like that, if you really, really have to, because I don’t think most learners really care about what they’ll know or understand. There are exceptions to this. There are scenarios where they might I think a learning objective slide is going to be more interesting if you’re really focused on telling them what it is that they’re actually going to be able to do what and why that’s relevant to them. Now, that said, You don’t even necessarily need to have the traditional learning objective slide, that’s not the second step of gunnies model, the second step is inform learners of the objective. So this could just be an explanation, it could be kind of in the talk track, it could be something that you do as an interactivity where you actually ask learners what they want to be able to do by the end of this course. And if you have the the freedom and latitude to shape the course around that you can, you can do that you could have fun with it. I know some people who and again, this depends on tone, some people do the Mission Impossible. The objective of this training, should you choose to accept it is to dot dot dot, I don’t know if that’s more or less relevant than doing just a dry slide. But at least it’s kind of an intention getter. So the goal here though, is is really just to, to inform them what it is that they should be able to do by the end of the course. And no one understand typically isn’t actually the goal. The third step is all about prior learning, stimulating recall of prior learning. And this is based again, in some of the ideas that if you are going to learn a new skill, that skill is based on top of previous skills and previous knowledge that you have that’s already kind of, you know, somewhere in your brain. So this is going to be not always relevant in terms of customer education. Because unlike a lot of other learning programs, where we do have a stronger sense of both who our learners are and what they’ve already learned, in customer education, we don’t always have that control, right, we’re typically walking into scenarios where the learners are completely unknown, they don’t work for us, they work for another company. In a lot of cases, we might not even be doing a training where we know exactly who they are, it might be public content, where the learner could be finding it on Google or a search engine. So we won’t always be able to leverage prior knowledge. But I think where you can do this is in courses that are sequential. So for instance, if you’re doing say, like a certification or learning path, or something that might have multiple modules, or multiple lessons in it, when you go to a new lesson or a new course in the path, you can review some of the previous content from previous courses to kind of like stimulate that prior recall. You can also do it if you use levels. So let’s say you have beginner and intermediate and advanced courses, it’s perfectly fair game for you to talk about and to maybe quiz the learner on some of the things that they should already know in an intermediate course from having taken a beginner level course. And in some cases, what that might prompt them to do is actually go back to the beginner course. And this helps get you around some of the issues, I think around learner self selection, it’s really hard in a lot of cases, if you have labeled courses beginner, intermediate advanced for a learner to really know where they should be. There are some people who know and will admit that they’re beginners, but there are others who either just don’t know, because they don’t know what your definition of a beginner or an advanced person is. Or they might not really want to admit that they might say, you know, I’ve been playing around with this, this product for a little while, I think I know what I’m doing. And then they go to the advanced course. And then they go, Oh, my gosh, I didn’t realize what I didn’t know. So there’s a value regardless in in having some way, especially if it’s a sequential course, or an advanced course of letting the learner know what they should know already. And I think that is in customer education, where stimulating prior recall really makes sense. Okay, so step four really simple, is some people call it presenting the stimulus, other people call it presenting the content, it’s really just actually like doing the teaching or doing the instruction. And there are many, many, many ways to do that. This is format agnostic, this could be instructor led training, this could be videos, this could be project based learning, I won’t go too much into what this is, because that that can be an entirely different instructional design course on actually presenting content in different formats. And there is good research actually, around how different formats work and some principles for making multimedia learning more effective. And that’s something that we might cover on a future episode of this very series. So that takes us to the fifth step, which is all about providing learning guidance. And this is again, where we’re not necessarily going completely linearly, because you’re typically going to be doing this as you provide a lot of the instruction. So this could depending on the instruction that you’re you’re using or the format that you’re using, could look pretty different. Let’s say you’re doing a live course. While this could be about providing some coaching during the course, or providing instructions for activities, so learners know what to do at every point, this is actually something that is really easy to get wrong, especially if you’re working with really large groups where you can’t necessarily see everyone’s faces or understand where whether everyone is, is keeping pace. We need to provide really clear instructions on what we want learners to do, especially during activities, or question prompts, or, or things like that. This could also be where we provide mnemonic devices or analogies, or key visuals, pieces like that, that really helped kind of encode, the learning guidance can mean a lot of things in this context. But really, it’s about helping them kind of process and digest the learning. So when you hear about a model, like telling me you show me Let me try something like that. This is basically what they’re talking about the the previous step was Tell me, you’re actually presenting the information. And it’s, you know, it’s on you to do that in a way that is appropriately stimulating and engaging to the learner. And then show me is often about providing some guidance or ways to encode that learning. And then that kind of takes you to let me try, which is actually the next step. It’s all about eliciting performance. So this is where you actually want the learner to do something to put the skills into practice. So this could look like, you know, a practice, it could look like a scenario based question, it could be giving them a case study to work on, it could be a role playing exercise, we love role playing and soft skill trainings. There are lots of ways to do this. But it’s the same principle as some of those learning cones that have been pretty well debunked by this point where you know, you you see you’ll, you’ll retain 10%, of what you see, but 90% of what you teach back. Now, that stuff is not necessarily valid, a lot of it has been debunked, but some of the principle behind it is, you’re generally going to get better retention,if the learner has had a chance to actually engage with the concepts, and actually apply them in some format during the actual instruction, because that’s going to help make it more relevant and is going to help them actually solve problems during the training. So don’t necessarily take the learning code and stuff as gospel, but do incorporate opportunities for practice and reflection throughout your training, because that is going to help with the encoding of the information. And then when you do that, that kind of takes us to step seven, which is providing feedback. So when you have a practice question or a scenario or an opportunity to model skills, you provide feedback. So what this does is it’s immediate feedback, and it helps them respond to how they they did the practice activity. So you could do this with a matrix, you could do this with, you know, elearning, it could be giving them a response, like, Hey, you know, you got this wrong, please go back and look at this section. And we’ll tell you why there is some formative versus summative feedback that that goes into this, we can talk about that on a future episode. But I think the idea here is make sure that when you’re giving your learners an opportunity to model their skills, give them meaningful feedback on what they’re doing, if you can, because the closer the feedback you give them is to the actual thing that they’ve they tried the the more they’re going to learn from it typically. So then we get to assessing performance. So this is again, this is like formative versus summative feedback. So the the feedback that you were getting earlier was immediate, and in the moment and was helping you judge how you were modeling some of those activities. But by the end of the course, you typically want something that is a capstone that really helps the learner digest this more holistically and provide some sort of evaluation. We talked about this in the Kirkpatrick episode, where this is really what level two assessment is about. This could be a test too, this could be a practicum exam. It’s just some way essentially for them to prove that they have demonstrated proficiency with whatever the skill was that that this training was teaching. So typically, that’s going to be like a test or a certification or something like that. And then finally, that brings us to nine, which is all about retention and transfer. So now we’re talking about what happens after the training. And this is one that again, I think a lot of people don’t necessarily think of when they’re designing, learning. A lot of the times we’re thinking about, we do the test at the end and then learning is over. That’s it. But that’s not necessarily going to lead to really effective learning transfer. We talked about this in the Kirkpatrick episode too, when you kind of move from that level to which is all about measuring the effect of Learning during the training itself, you still have to get to level three, which is application on the job. What are people actually doing after they went to that training? Did it change behavior in any way. So that’s what step nine is really about. This is finding ways for them to take it back into their work. So for example, this could be providing them with one sheeters or handouts or job aids that they can actually use on the job. It could be providing them in time resources that they can use. Some people like to use digital adoption platforms, like walk me or pendo, or app queues, or what fix there’s, there’s a lot of them out there to do this on the job if it’s software training, specifically. But there are a lot of ways you can in fact, you can even build this into the training itself. If you have sufficient time and attention, you could have learners create reminders for themselves, you could have them create job aids for themselves, you could have them create reference materials for themselves, the more the learner is actually involved in creating these follow ups, I think it helps generate more commitment. So again, this is hard to do in customer education, in the sense that we in many cases do not see a lot of the learners after we’ve engaged with them, they go back to their respective companies, and they use our software. And, you know, we hope, we hope for the best in some cases, I think it’s great to be able to follow up with your customers and your accounts, if you can, and actually see how they’re applying these, these skills on the job. In fact, if you have enterprise customers that you have really good relationships with a lot of the time, you can actually go and follow up with them and see what the the end effect of was of the training and how they’re ultimately adopting your product. And so that will usually give you some good ideas and cues for how you can make this step most effective. Because you can actually provide more meaningful follow on activities, resources, job aids guides, self serve resources, whatever it is that they need to ultimately put these skills into practice. So that’s really gonna is nine events in a nutshell. And as you can see, in customer education, and especially if you’re doing a lot of virtual asynchronous learning, you’re not necessarily going to be able to incorporate all of these in a super heavy handed manner. But the nice thing about the framework is you don’t need to, in some ways, it’s almost a reminder or a checklist as you’re structuring your learning to incorporate some form of these into whatever modality you’re using for customer education. So you know, if you walk through some of these steps, creating a great attention grabbing introduction, you can do super quickly, that could even be a provocative statement, the sentence or question. The learning objectives can be really, really quick, especially in a relatively simple course, or even an article doesn’t take very long to tell them what the article is intended to help them do. stimulating recall of prior knowledge, again, this is probably a hard one to do in some formats in customer education. But certainly, again, in a sequential series, you can refer back to what they learned in the previous one, you could ask a quick quiz question, then you present the content in some format, you provide guidance around how to transfer that, that learning, you give them an opportunity to practice could be a quick quiz question could be a practice activity could be guidance for them to go do something in the product. You give them feedback based on that activity, ideally, especially if you’re able to measure what they did during the practice activity, I know we’re not always able to. And then you provide some sort of final assessment again, you’re probably going to be able to do this more in a course format, than in something like an article, you’re not necessarily going to be able to measure whether they can actually perform the skill if they’re just reading an article. But especially if you’re doing a course this is typically easy to do, you know, some sort of Capstone quiz or assessment so they can do their own knowledge check. And then providing resources. What are some other articles you might want to read? Where are the best help resources that I can go to put this into practice? What are some job aids that I can download or reference as I use your product or as I use your software doesn’t need to be super heavyweight. Alright, so this was another episode of instructional design 101, we try to keep these pretty quick, dirty and informal. I know that there are much more formal places you can go to learn the real, the real meat behind these theories. But hopefully these continue to be a really helpful way to apply these practically on the job as a customer educator, especially if you don’t have a background in some of the deeper adult learning theory behind some of these. So keep letting us know whether these are relevant and helpful to you. And if they are, we’ll keep doing them. There certainly more theories that we can do this series on and Until then, keep Educating, experimenting and finding your people. Thanks, everyone.