There are a number of instructional design models to choose from when you are designing your virtual training. Each has its own advantages and disadvantages, but Gagne’s Nine Events of Instructions has proven to be very popular, and perhaps lends itself best to the virtual world.

Gagne’s system is made up of a series of events that follow a systematic instructional design process. The structure created is flexible – allowing events to be adapted for different learning situations.

The nine steps are:

  1. gain the attention of the students – start the training with a challenging question, an interesting video clip, or an amusing animation;
  2. inform students of the objectives – this establishes the expected outcomes and criteria that will be used for measuring achievement;
  3. stimulate recall of prior learning – reinforce the students’ existing knowledge before introducing new knowledge and demonstrate the path that will be taken to “connect the dots.” This can be accomplished by creating “recap” modules to review information, and developing interactive scenarios that integrate concepts from previous lessons;
  4. present the content – deliver the content in easily consumable portions with defined modules. Mix in multimedia such as video, graphics, charts, and text to help refocus learners’ attention;
  5. provide learner guidance – show them how to learn and retain information better using examples, mnemonics, case studies, and other instructional support to supplement the content;
  6. elicit performance – if applicable, have learners practice, demonstrate, and apply their learning in virtual mock sessions. 2-way interactions are very important in the virtual environment. Incorporating mid-point assessments, interactive quizzes, requiring responses to questions before moving on, and facilitating inter-student collaboration through group activities/projects will all aid in the learning process;
  7. provide feedback – reinforce the knowledge gained with feedback, using tests, quizzes, or verbal/textual comments;
  8. assess performance – test the level of knowledge gained using essays, short questionnaires, and open-ended questions; and,
  9. enhance retention and transfer to the job – provide similar problem scenarios that allow for additional practice and review the lesson.  Printable reference guides, downloadable templates, and job aids can all aid in future retention of the knowledge gained.