Many eLearning designers limit learning concepts to memorization and recall. Is swallowing facts and regurgitating them out the only goal of a learning objective? How can you, as a trainer, create quality practice activities for better training transfer to performance context? Guided-analysis activity is your answer.
Practice is very important for intellectual tasks that require a sensitive application of procedures. Guided-analysis activities move learners through the process of analyzing a complex situation. They also make learners ask the most important question during the eLearning process: “So what do I do with this knowledge?”
When designed well, guided-analysis activities will help learners filter out useless information from the relevant – the confusing from the concrete. In short, guided-analysis helps learners convert data into information and even knowledge.
How do guided-analysis activities work anyway?
These activities require learners to follow a procedure to gather and analyze data. After conducting several cycles of gathering and analyzing the data, the learner may abstract a principle revealed by the analysis and test it or run it.
What learning situations are best for guided-analysis activities?
Situations that require learners to analyze with the aid of given data. The practice technique may involve calculating or estimating mathematical values. Or it may involve sorting, classifying or ranking items, according to pre-defined procedures. Guided-analysis activities can easily be created using interactivity options available in the user interface.
Let’s take a closer look at the guided-analysis strategies and determine how you can use them in your eLearning programs:
· Compare and contrast complex data by creating a side-by-side comparison. Comparing stock market prices, two procedures side-by-side, or marketing techniques and their related benefits – all these create situations where contrasts and differences are inevitable. Including blank rows in the user interface below the “compare and contrast lists” allows room for independent comments from the learner.
· Classifying items into established categories. To classify data into meaningful information, learners utilize the provided facts on the interface. Drag and drop activities, as well as text box filling activities, promote item classification.
There are many other strategies to do this. For example, have learners pick categories from a drop-down list beside each item to be classified. Select from a pick-one list of categories the item belongs to. Match items in one list with the categories in another. Drag items to their categories or categories to their member.
· Outline items that are technical or too detailed in nature. Learners would need to put individual items into a hierarchical scheme. This kind of guided analysis teaches general organizing skills as well as well as specific organizing schemes.
In a leadership course, learners may organize specific traits around a leadership style to help define the relative power of the leader. Such activities help learners relate and connect knowledge and present it in a way that is unforgettable.
· Recreating famous examples from an area of study, something that is also known as “benchmarking”. Have learners reproduce the example exactly as originally. For example, providing model papers or presentations to create a business report or a business plan. Any deliverable in an eLearning course can be guided with the aid of models provided for learners to study.
Prompt Higher-Level Thinking in Your Guided-Analysis Activities
In order to make judgements about ideas or products, learners will need guided practice. William Horton, in his book “eLearning by Design” talks about several questions that can be integrated in a guided-analysis activity.
Here is a sample of questions that promote higher-level thinking and internalizing complex concepts taught in the eLearning course:
· What are the advantages of this item?
· What is wrong with this item?
· How can this item be improved?
· How can this error be corrected?
· What would be the results of performing this action?
· What categories do these items fit in?
· What are the critical characteristics of this item?
· What conclusions can you draw?
· What evidence can you offer?
· What is the pattern of these incidents?
· How does your opinion differ from others?
· How can you apply this principle?
One of the best ways to promote guided-analysis activities for practice and successful transfer to the work context of knowledge acquired is to provide authentic challenges. For example, use real-world tools like surveys, Gantt charts, evaluation forms, quality matters checks, templates to create reports, presentations and tables to fill in the required information.
These authentic tools serve as excellent practice opportunities for the learner. Also provide them with the wrong situation and help them rectify it with the aid of the concepts covered.
Adult learners in a training environment appreciate the flexibility to practice as much or as little as they desire. In fact, adult learners learn more effectively and efficiently when they have more control over their practice exercises.
Novice learners may need more practice before they advance to the next topic. But seasoned learners may just need to refresh some concepts through little practice. Motivate learners to achieve at least an 85% passing score. But do not force them to complete practice activities.
Guided-analysis activities are fun to do in a training environment. They also offer authentic learning situations. Try incorporating these strategies in your next eLearning course for better practice opportunities.