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Effective e-Learning: The Four Phases

Posted by: Arun
Category: Industry insights
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e-Learning, and more importantly effective e-learning is key to a successful business and ultimately course content. It is a process in which no stage can be skipped without a knock on effect to the learners. Skip a stage, or miss a principle and the learning outcome may not reach the potential that can be achieved.

When creating content for e-learning courses, developers may overlook a crucial factor: introducing learners to problems that are either irrelevant or too complex. Make sure that they can see tangible benefits from solving the problems put out before them. When thinking about the content, consider these questions when creating questions around solving a problem:

  • What skills or knowledge will they master or acquire?
  • How can learners benefit from these skills and knowledge?
  • How will they be applied to the real world?
  • Can they use previous experience to help solve new problems that they may come across?

To help you further in the creation of content, there are 4 phases in which learners go through, which you can utilise and construct learning around. These are:

  • Application
  • Activation
  • Integration
  • Demonstration


Create opportunities for students to apply what they have learned. It’s all well and good showing students how to apply new information, but they need to understand how to do it themselves, which is one of the best methods of learning. Allowing them to demonstrate what they have learnt provides them with an opportunity to measure their own progress.


When creating content, make sure you take into consideration if the learner has had previous relevant experience in the field or topic. Furthermore, before assuming that everyone knows the same amount on a topic, it would make sense to provide a recap or a brief overview so that they can all start from the same level.


This is one of the most important stages. Once a subject is learned it needs to acted upon and integrated into the daily workings for the learning to have been of any substantial consequence. Initial training needs to be followed up, and checked that it hasn’t been forgotten. Don’t be satisfied with using games, animations and multimedia: if they don’t integrate what they’ve learned, it would have been just as useful as providing them with a blank page.


This fits hand in hand with application. Instead of telling people what they should be doing provide a demonstration – something that they can see and replicate or adapt. Show them how it’s done and prove that the method that you have chosen does work. Students effectively remember and apply new information when you demonstrate it to them. It may require more effort and more creativity when designing, but it will be worth all the time and effort.

According to Marril’s Principles of Instruction these 4 points are all interrelated and they allow for goal directed learning. This will allow both designer and student to understand what they want to achieve by the end of their task/activity.