How To Integrate Anchored Instruction In eLearning
Cognition & Technology Group at Vanderbilt and John D. Bransford are the main proponents of the Anchored Instruction Theory, which suggests that an "anchor" can create a "shared experience" that prompts learners to delve into the topic. In eLearning, this anchor usually comes in the form of multimedia content, such as a brief eLearning video or presentation, which serves as a starting point for the eLearning course. It typically contains a case study of a real world problem or challenge that is relevant and relatable for the viewer. Here are 5 tips to integrate Anchored Instruction into your eLearning experiences.
- Include a relatable and relevant multimedia activity.
The foundation of a successful Anchored Instruction eLearning course is a multimedia activity, such as an online presentation or a serious game, which introduces the subject matter. The eLearning activity must also involve a realistic situation or challenge, such as a case study, newsworthy event, or a problem that the online learner encounters on a regular basis. Ultimately, they need to relate to the anchor and be able to understand how the information benefits them in the real world. For example, how it can help them overcome an obstacle they deal with daily or improve their work processes. To figure out what "relatable" and "relevant" means for your audience you need to carry out extensive research about their backgrounds, experience, performance gaps, and current knowledge. This will give you a good indication of the elements your eLearning activity should contain and how you can structure the eLearning content to achieve the desired results.
- Ask open-ended questions to spark debate.
After your online learners have viewed the multimedia anchor and have a clear idea about the key ideas and concepts, it’s time to offer them a social learning experience. Ask open-ended thought-provoking questions, that spark a debate and allow them to engage in an online discussion with their peers. This is the point at which they are able to ask questions, clarify any confusion they might have, and delve into the subject matter. By doing so they can see things from differing points of view and analyze every angle of the eLearning course. Make sure that your open-ended questions are culturally appropriate and that the online discussion does not veer too far off the eLearning course, however. If you notice that the debate is becoming a bit too lively or that online learners are going off on tangents, then it may be necessary to pose another question to bring them back on-topic.
- Tie it into a story.
They key to a successful anchor is making it more conversational and informal than a lecture. This can usually be achieved by turning it into a story or, at the very least, including storytelling elements into your multimedia presentation. Keep in mind that the anchor must allow for free exploration of the topic. No guidance or prior explanations should be necessary. The goal is to give online learners the chance to arrive at their own conclusions and summarize the eLearning content in their own words, which can be done by making the information easily digestible. Focus on one key concept or idea for each anchor and create a plot that you can follow, which includes engaging characters that are relatable and realistic. Make it even more interactive and immersive by adding music, sound effects, and visual effects to your eLearning course.
- Give online learners a sufficient amount of time to explore the topic.
Anchored Instruction may reduce online training seat time, but it should not be rushed. In fact, every online learner should have the opportunity to fully explore the topic and reflect upon the core ideas or problems. Don’t ask them to keep pace with their peers or meet a strict deadline. For example, if you are planning on using Anchored Instruction in your blended learning approach, you may want to give them the link to the anchor a week or two before the scheduled eLearning session. They can absorb all of the eLearning content and then figure out why it is important and how it ties into previously acquired knowledge. You also have the option to include Anchor Instruction in your eLearning course design by creating self-paced study guides that can be used alongside the multimedia presentation. For instance, an online learner has the ability to watch an eLearning video and then access tutorials, manuals, and other eLearning resources whenever they choose.
- Encourage online learners to identify the applications of the eLearning content.
Before you tell them exactly how they can apply what they’ve learned and the real world context of the eLearning content, you may want to encourage them to figure it out on their own. Ask them to watch the multimedia eLearning content and then brainstorm ways that they can apply the information in various aspects of their lives. This idea also pertains to real world benefits; by exploring all of the options, and learning how to use the knowledge in new and creative ways, they will be more motivated to participate. After they’ve come up with their own ideas, you can then follow it up by offering eLearning scenarios, simulations, eLearning games, and tutorials that show them how the information can be used in a practical way.
Anchored Instruction can lead to a variety of benefits, because it serves as a springboard for online discussions and knowledge exploration. By adding interactive and visual elements into your eLearning course you have the power to form a meaningful connection with your audience and encourage them to delve into the subject matter on their own terms.
Would you like to learn more about Anchored Instruction? Read the article Instructional Design Models And Theories: Anchored Instruction to delve into the main principles of this effective Instructional Design approach.