Module 1:  Create your quality online course blueprint

1.4 The Nine Events of Instruction framework

By defining quality in online learning as centred on learners and on facilitating learning, this introductory module sets the stage for our approach to the rest of the course. We start this module by introducing an evidence-based framework that outlines the necessary conditions for learning (Gagné’s Nine Events of Instruction), and we will loosely follow this framework as we work through the various stages of course design and development.

Transparent teaching moment: Why a framework?

Research tells us that when learners are exposed to a new field of knowledge, it can be a challenge for them to conceptualize how the various elements of the field are connected. Learners often experience new fields of knowledge as a series of isolated facts or formulas to master, causing them to miss the bigger picture, which plays an important role in structuring and scaffolding the information, making it more meaningful and memorable. Frameworks and schemas provide an organizational structure in which to fit new knowledge, allowing learning to occur more efficiently and effectively (Ambrose et al., 2010; Bransford  et al., 1999).

Gagné’s Nine Events is one such framework/schema. It sets out nine research-based “conditions” required for effective learning, which maps well onto the process-based way we’ve organized this course. The framework is simply a useful way for you to efficiently and effectively design your high-quality online course. (We will speak more about schemas and organizational frameworks in Module 3.3 Structuring Your Course.)

Important note! You’ll notice that we cover the events in a slightly different order than originally conceived by Gagné. The reason for this is that Gagné organized these events based on the flow of classroom instruction. We’ve adapted the framework for an online context, which requires a bit of shuffling—for example, Event 1: Gain attention is part of content development, which we cover in Module 3.4 Gaining Learner Attention.

The following diagram describes Gagné’s Nine Events of Instruction. Click on the plus sign associated with each of the nine events to reveal the conditions for effective learning.

A (meta)example of how Gagné’s framework works

How we did this in this module

We’ve been very deliberate about modelling the principles we highlight in this course. Throughout the course, we will draw your attention to how we’ve implemented particular principles in these “How we did this” sections. For example, click through the diagram to see how we applied Gagné’s first three events in this module.

As you head into the conception and planning stage of your online course, refer to the example above of how we’ve applied some of Gagné’s principles in this module to guide you. We recommend that you start working with two of Gagné’s conditions for effective learning:

  • Event 2: Inform learners of the objective
    • Learners need to know what is expected of them.
  • Event 3: Stimulate recall of prior learning
    • Learners need to activate prior learning, and any misconceptions that may interfere with learning need to be surfaced.

We’ll address these two events next.


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