Learning Styles Awareness: Less About Styles, More About Design Part 2

In part 1 of our two part “Learning Styles” series, we conclude that while learning styles may provide a popular topic of discussion, there is no research that finds e-Learning content created for any particular style improves learner performance. The focus should be on the design of a course – one with the most interactivity and best navigation, tools and resources to motivate, educate and engage learners.
Judy Unrein suggests “designing for different interactivity needs/preferences and allowing the learner to choose their own experiences” on her onehundredfortywords blog. Unrein proposes using a method like Thiagi’s 4 Door Model as a way as a way to create training that allows choices for learners. In addition to the 4 Door Model, she highlights a couple other effective instructional design models for training including Cathy Moore’s Action Mapping and Michael Allen’s CCAF.
Let’s take a quick look at these three models and how they can benefit our learners with options for exploration, interactivity and dynamic ways to learn for everyone:
4 Door Model, Thiagi
According to The 4 Door Model, learners are in control of how they navigate throughout the course. The training is set up to have “doors” to certain areas to explore: the Library, the Café, the Playground and the Assessment center (any of the names can change to fit your training needs).
  • The Library: This is where the learner can find all of the learning material and external resources they need for more information.
  • The Café: Learners can participate in discussion boards, wikis and any other activity where the learner can interact with others. This is where social learning takes place.
  • The Playground: Learners have access to quick games to gain a better understanding of the information in the course.
  • The Evaluation Center/Assessment Center/Torture Chamber: This is where the learners take tests and quizzes to assess their understanding of the training material.
Action Mapping, Cathy Moore
Action mapping consists of creating a visual diagram that outlines the structure of the course, as indicated by three key elements: the goal, the actions and practice. This design focuses on the inclusion of only the most important information, tools and practices to aid the learner in their field. Here is a quick look at the three focuses of action mapping:
  1. Identify the business goal. Find the change, or result, the organization wants to create with the training. This helps you design entirely relevant courses that focus on only the most important information for learners.
  2. Identify what people need to do. List the actions that your learners must take to meet the goal.
  3. Design practice activities. Create an activity for each action that is as similar to the “real world” as possible.
CCAF, Dr. Michael Allen
The purpose of CCAF is to use the four components (context, challenge, activity and feedback) to allow interactivity by creating meaningful experiences.
  • Context – Establish relevance and promote interest by providing context for your learners with tools like visual appeal, real-life situations, storytelling and suspense.
  • Challenge – Engage the learner in a challenge that motivates them to perform. In the challenge, provide a consequence, some level of difficulty, risk and perhaps a surprise outcome to keep it interesting.
  • Activity – These are actions the learner must take in order to achieve success. You can expand the range of activities, such as navigation that is not “page-turner” navigation, provide opportunities to practice skills and include various assessment techniques.
  • Feedback – After a learner takes action, feedback is any type of response of information the learner receives. If he/she answers a question, feedback can consist of more than a simple “correct” or “incorrect” answer, but can also provide extra information, resources and clarity in the context of the activity.
These three models, the 4 Door Model, Action Mapping and CCAF are just a sampling of some of the models implemented by instructional designers that offer dynamic opportunities for learner engagement. Each has advantages and disadvantages, dependent on your particular organization and learning initiatives. The advantage of using any of these models is that rather than focusing entirely on delivering content to fit a certain “learning style,” you create content that best serves your learners and their needs for e-Learning and training.
Explore these models; Test one out, pick and choose elements that fit your course or use these as inspiration to design your own model! Make sure you include all of the necessary materials, resources, multimedia, assessments and interactivity to meet the end goals for your learners.
To learn more about any of these models, please visit:
Thiagi’s 4 Door Model:  shemp65.typepad.com/eLG-4-DoorModel.pdf