I’m a fan of Michael Allen’s, not only because he knows his stuff and he’s a very good person, but also because he has a knack for making things accessible. For example, his Guide to eLearning is as good a guide to designing elearning as you can get (that and Julie Dirksen’s Design for How People Learn, both appropriately in their second edition). So when I thought to criticize one of his models, I had to think really hard! And I’m still wrestling with it, but I also realize I’d gone down the same path! Obviously, it’s time to explore the issue.
One of Michael’s models is the CCAF model for making meaningful elearning. That’s:
- Context: that sets up the situation
- Challenge: that prompts the need for action
- Activity: that the learner takes, and
- Feedback: that comes from the situation.
There are nuances about this, but it nicely incorporates some of the best principles about designing effective (and engaging) practice. If you put people in a context and ask them to act, you’re minimizing the distance between the practice and the actual performance. Which is, of course, key to successful transfer. So this is a very handy shorthand, like Cathy Moore’s Action Mapping.
Now, in many ways, this is similar to my own activity-based design, which is more a curricular model than a pedagogical one, but it foregrounds activity instead of content. The goal is to have learners do something! And, of course, I’m thinking of creating a work product in many instances, or making meaningful decisions.
So what was I concerned about? Perhaps because I’d been thinking (and whinging) about ‘click to see more’ interactions, I want those activities to mean something! You could have an activity that’s just ‘matching’, or ‘identify the right word’ type of knowledge test. Those are activities, just not cognitively challenging ones. And of course Michael emphasizes this in his descriptions, but…there’s an opportunity for people to be slack.
I wondered about using ‘application’ instead of activity, focusing on the fact that people should be applying the knowledge to do something, not just doing any sort of activity. Do the semantics matter enough to be worth considering? Application-based design? Context-Challenge-Application-Feedback? Perhaps not, but I thought I’d think ‘out loud’ as usual. (Both to reiterate the point as well as to solicit your input.) So, what are your thoughts? Worth it? Or too much ‘splitting angel’s hairs on the head of a pin’ (metaphors mixed while you wait)?