The Big 5 eLearning Design Principles

30 May

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The Big 5 eLearning Design Principles

eLearning Design Principles Overview

The tactics and methods used to design effective learning experiences that promote the acquisition and retention of knowledge and skills are referred to as elearning design principles. To develop engaging learning experiences, educators and instructional designers can apply a variety of learning design principles for building effective learning in the form of e-learning courses.

The eLearning design principles include anticipatory set, instructional input, guided practice, closure and evaluation and independent learning. In this blog we will explore these principles further and how they are essential instructional design principles for building an eLearning course.

1 -Anticipatory Set

An Anticipatory set, also known as a hook is a technique teaching professionals employ to pique learners’ interest at the start of a lesson. The anticipatory set connects the upcoming lesson to the student’s existing knowledge, experiences, or interests in order to build anticipation and relevance for the material.

A brief activity or discussion that engages learners and gets them ready for the topic at hand. This makes up the anticipatory set and is a significant design principle for effective learning. It could be a challenging question, a quick video clip, a narrative, a puzzle, or any other activity that grabs students’ interest and inspires them to continue their studies.

The Anticipatory set guides learners through the first quadrant of the learning cycle and addresses the following key points or issues such as: 

  • Sets the climate for active learning 

  • Answers the learner’s questions, “Why am I here?”, “What’s in this for me?”

  • Begins to connect participants to the learning 

Begins to bridge what participants already know to what they are about to learn. 

The type of enquiry which will be the core of the eLearning to follow should be established here:

  • If your activity is about a place, include some general information, a picture, and/or audio files.

  • If it is about a person, describe something about the person that gives a general background to the learners. 

  • If you are creating a scenario with opposing points of view, describe the views briefly.

  • If this is a collaborative activity you will need to select relevant roles and assign questions to each role, you need to think this out at this stage. 

When reviewing your eLearning course ask yourself 

  • Does your introduction include a ‘hook’ to engage and motivate your learners?

  • Does it begin to set the climate for active learning? 

  • Does it establish personal meaning and answer the question of ‘why’?

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2- Instructional Input

In e-learning, the term “instructional input” refers to the digital delivery of knowledge, content, or information to learners. It is the main method used by online courses to distribute their content and teaching aids to students.

Text-based content, and multimedia resources including videos, photos, music, interactive simulations, virtual reality, games, and more can all be used as instructional design principles for building an e-learning course. 

The most popular type of instructional input used in e-learning is text-based information, which can be in the form of articles, eBooks, case studies, and whitepapers. The learning process can be made more engaging and interactive by utilizing multimedia resources, such as audio and video, to provide further explanations or to exemplify important concepts. As e-learning tools, interactive simulations, virtual reality, and games are becoming more and more well-liked because they can give students an intensely immersive learning experience that mimics real-world circumstances and places.

The platform that hosts and distributes e-learning information is known as a learning management system (LMS), and it can be used to give instructional input in e-learning. The course materials can be arranged and structured, learners’ progress can be monitored, and tests and feedback can be given.

In this stage you need to think about:

  • What questions need to be answered 

  • What information must be analysed, summarised or organised 

  • What the end results of the learner’s activities will be 

You can ensure an efficient e-learning strategy by assessing these procedures in the context of this instructional design principle while developing an e-learning course.

3 – Guided Practice

Another elearning design principle is guided practice. It is a learning activity where learners apply the knowledge and skills they have learned while receiving direction and feedback from the course coordinator or the course materials.

In order for learners to apply their knowledge and abilities in a secure and encouraging environment before attempting to apply them in real-world scenarios, guided practice is a crucial design principle for effective e-learning. It enables students to obtain feedback and correction from the teacher or the course materials, which aids in the improvement of their performance and understanding.

Guided practice can come in a variety of formats, including interactive exercises, tests, case studies, simulations, and virtual labs. These exercises are made to give learners a practical learning experience that reinforces the learning objectives and enables them to put their newly learned skills to use.

Guided practice guides learners through the third quadrant of the learning cycle and should address the following key questions or issues: 

  • Can participants actually use the new information or perform the new skills?

  • Answer the participants’ questions “How can I make this work?”

  • Provides participants with the opportunity to practise with feedback and coaching from the trainer.

  • Gives participants the chance to make and learn from mistakes in a safe environment

This stage should be a hands-on activity or set of activities with support so that learners

access the resources that you’ve identified as they go through the guided process. You may

have a set of links that everyone looks at as a way of developing background information, or not as required. It should engage learners in mid to higher levels of the learning taxonomy and should include application and analysis.

Points you should review: 

  • Are learners guided sufficiently without being led too much?

  • Does this stage build on the knowledge introduced in the instructional input stage?

  • Is there a good balance in the resources you have provided for learners to read or use?

  • Does each resource add new information or potential for learners?

  • Is the scaffold lessened as the activities flow?

  • Does it answer the question How?

4 – Closure and Evaluation

Two crucial elements of e-learning are closure and evaluation, which are intended to reinforce learning objectives and gauge students’ comprehension of the subject matter.

The process of summarising and going over the main ideas and learning objectives covered in a lesson or module is known as closure in e-learning. It is a crucial component of online learning since it aids in the reinforcement of the information presented and gives students a sense of closure by bringing the learning experience to a logical conclusion. There are several ways to conclude a presentation, such as a summary slide, a review test, or a reflective exercise.

In e-learning, evaluation is the process of determining how well students have understood the subject matter and how well they have applied their knowledge and abilities in practical settings. There are several ways to assess student learning, including quizzes, examinations, assignments, case studies, and simulations. Because it gives students feedback on their performance and identifies areas where more learning is needed, evaluation is a crucial part of e-learning.

The evaluation findings can be used by teachers to enhance the learning experience and course material, making it more efficient for future students. Through an online platform, such as a learning management system, which can track and report on a student’s progress and performance, evaluation can be carried out in e-learning.


This step allows for reflection by the learners and summation by the teacher. Setting aside time for discussion of possible extensions and applications of the lesson

During the concluding section, you can encourage your learners to suggest ways of doing

things differently to improve the activity. Explain to learners how the conclusion will offer the opportunity to engage in further analysis. 

For example, you might ask learners:

  • How could their roles have been interpreted in a different light?

  • If they had interpreted their roles differently, how might the outcome have changed?

  • If they were flexible enough to compromise with the group and attain a resolution?

  • Did they yield to group pressures so their views were less well-heard?

  • What new questions, if any, did the issue(s) generate?

  • Why would these new questions be important in answering the original question(s)?


This section should provide learners with a clear understanding of the grading criteria which will be used to evaluate their efforts.

Evaluation actually occurs throughout the e-learning but is of particular importance before closure so that learners have a clear understanding of how their performance will be reviewed or assessed.

Points you should review: 

  • Do learners have a clear understanding of how they will be assessed, if applicable?

  • Are benchmarks clear and specific so that learners can assess their own and each other’s work?

  • Does the Conclusion allow for reflection and provide an opportunity to reinforce learning?

  • Are there links and activities for learners to do on their own if they’re so inclined?

  • Does it answer the question, So What?

5 – Independent Learning

In e-learning, the term “independent learning” refers to a learning process in which students are capable of studying on their own without the constant supervision of a teacher. Independent learning is a self-directed method of education in which students lead their own learning processes, establish their own objectives, and track their own advancement.

Independent Learning addresses the following key questions or issues: 

  • Can participants use the new information or perform the new skills when they are on their own?

  • Answer the participant’s questions: “What if I do it differently?” “What if the situations in which I perform these skills or use this information are different from the classroom?”

  • Guides the participant to transfer the learning from the classroom to the job at hand

Independent learning in e-learning can occur in a variety of ways, including through self-paced courses, tutorials, eBooks, online resources, and discussion forums. These educational resources are made to be self-contained, giving students all the knowledge and tools they require to learn on their own. E-learning is a flexible and practical method of education because learners can access these resources at any time and from any location.

Learners who pursue independent learning through e-learning must possess the necessary self-discipline, motivation, and time management skills. In order to recognize their own learning requirements and locate the resources required to address those needs, learners must have strong critical thinking and problem-solving skills.

In e-learning, the advantages of independent learning include flexibility, convenience, and the capacity to customise the learning environment to suit specific needs and preferences. Additionally, it enables students to take charge of their education and master crucial abilities like self-discipline, self-motivation, and self-analysis.

Points to review:

  • Did you design interdependency into the process so that each learner has something to contribute that the others need?

  • Did you provide opportunities and time for learners to interact with each other?

  • Does the process allow for learners to accommodate each other’s point of view?

  • Do the scenario and resulting tasks engage learners in higher-level thinking and a transfer of information from one intellectual domain to another?

  • Does it answer the question, What if?


In conclusion, creating effective e-learning experiences that encourage learning and engagement requires the application of sound elearning design principles. While instructional input gives learners the knowledge and skills they need to accomplish the learning objectives, the anticipatory set aids in preparing learners for the learning experience. Closure and assessment aid in reinforcing learning objectives and determining the extent to which students have understood the material, while guided practice enables students to apply their knowledge and abilities in an organised setting with direction and feedback.

An essential part of e-learning is independent learning, which empowers students to be in charge of their own learning and development. It demands students to be self-motivated, self-disciplined, and proficient time managers, as well as to ask for help and support when they need it.

These elearning design principles can help instructors and e-learning designers develop effective learning experiences that encourage in-depth comprehension and long-term memory of the subject. In order to ensure that learners are actively engaged and motivated to learn, strategies like anticipatory sets, instructional input, guided practice, closure and evaluation, and independent learning are used. This results in better performance and more successful outcomes.

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