Gagne’s 9 Events of Instruction suggests there are certain mental conditions that must be present in order for student to absorb and retain knowledge. They are based on the internal and external cognitive functions required, to contribute to learning.

Internal factors are the learner’s prior knowledge. External factors are the outside stimuli such as the form of instruction.

1. Gain attention.

It is important to gain the attention of the learner immediately. Begin with an introduction that will get them curious and motivated about the topic. Some examples of this include stories that pull on the heartstrings, a question that surprises or shocks them, audio, animation or graphics.

2. Inform learners of the objectives/ direction.

Always state objectives so that your learners know WHY they need to actively participate in the learning. State them as if you were face to face with the learner and tie them into real-world applications and benefits. If learners know they will take something valuable away from this learning experience they are more likely to engage in the learning process.

3. Stimulate recall of prior learning.

Recalling and applying knowledge they have previously acquired gives online learners the chance to commit it to long-term memory, rather than forgetting it a second after they’ve read it.  It is important to let the learners know what skills or knowledge they will need to apply to the learning activity before it begins. You must also include how the subject matter is connected to information they already know.

4. Create goal-centred content.

Each activity, exercise, and piece content should tie in directly to the goals and objectives. In fact, it’s best to group information and concepts together based on the specific goal. For example, an online lesson or module should focus on one core objective, which allows the learner to master that topic before moving onto the next.

5. Provide online guidance.

Learners must have the coachingthey need to develop favourable online learning behaviours, or else they might be committing incorrect information to their long-term memory. A good example is a simulation. Whether a software sim or a soft skill branching sim, it should have sound instruction/directions and feedback for incorrect choices or answers.

6. Practice makes perfect.

Repetition is key to absorbing and retaining new knowledge and skills. The inclusion of opportunities for your learners to apply the knowledge they have acquired so far and try out behaviours that can help them in the real world is key. Offer thembranching scenariosand simulations that give them the chance to see where their decisions lead them, as well as the rewards and risks involved that come of their actions.

7. Provide feedback.

By giving your learners timely and constructive feedbackthey have the power to improve learning behaviours and identify their weaknesses and strengths. Offer personal feedback so that every learner knows which steps they must take in order to reach their goals.

8. Assess performance.

Assessing your learners not only gauges their progress, but also gives you the opportunity to identify weak spots in your learning strategy. For example, if a vast majority of your learners are struggling with one particular module, you may want to re-evaluate its content and activities. Thisalso offers you the ability to identify the knowledge gap; what they already know versus what they still need to learn in order to achieve objectives.

9. Enhance transfer of knowledge by tying it into real world situations and applications

Learners must always be aware of how they can apply what they have learned once they step out of the learning environment. As such, you should include real-world scenarios, stories, and other interactive learning activities that show them the applications of the information and skills they’ve worked so hard to develop.