Action Mapping For eLearning Evaluation

Action Mapping For eLearning Evaluation
Summary: Ever wondered why the best plans for learning often fail? Why do human resources managers get disappointed, and employees are unable to deliver up to expectations even though they scored high in your online learning courses?

Instructional Design Strategy—Action Mapping

Different thoughts may come to mind as reasons for this challenge, but the answer is likely that you have not used action mapping for learning evaluation even though your training has been engaging and the content is entertaining.

Many eLearning professionals have a similar problem where it seems the performance of learners is satisfactory, but the training is not as productive as expected. Except this problem is addressed, your clients may decrease investments in your training program since it fails to improve employee performance or change their attitude toward the job.

If you've done all you can but still can't find the missing link, action mapping may help you stay aligned with your overall goals and objectives as you develop and deliver learning content.

What Is Action Mapping?

Action mapping is a framework/method/process meant to streamline and simplify the learning design process. Developed in 2008 by Cathy Moore, action mapping aims to help designers:

  • Commit to measurably improve the performance of the business
  • Identify the best solution to the performance problem
  • Prioritize realistic practice activities rather than information presentations

In other words, contrary to how many eLearning courses are designed in that they are laden with too much information, action mapping aims for change in the behavior of learners or the acquisition of complex skills. To aptly put, action mapping focuses on results and not information. It's about what learners do after the training and not what they know.

What Are The Benefits Of Action Mapping In eLearning? 

Action mapping has proven over the years to be beneficial to both employers and employees alike. Here are 4 top advantages of action mapping in eLearning:

1. It Helps To Identify The Problem 

The first advantage of action mapping is that it helps to identify what is wrong. Without the knowledge of what is wrong, eLearning will be a fruitless activity regardless of the time, effort, and resources invested in it. Not only does it help you to unravel what is wrong that needs to be addressed, but it also helps you to discover problems that may potentially stand in the way of the learning process.

2. It Sets Measurable Goals 

Once the problems have been identified, action mapping helps to set realistic and measurable goals. Defining the objectives of any training in advance can help you determine what the content should be, so each step of the process contributes to creating the positive change that addresses the problems identified from the onset.

3. It Reduces Cognitive Overload 

Most eLearning courses are actually information dumps in that they contain a lot of information that does very little in producing the desired outcomes. Whatever information that's conveyed during eLearning that is not directly related to the overarching goal leads to cognitive overload. Action mapping helps to prevent cognitive overload since the content is centered around those key corporate objectives so learners will get the most of their eLearning process.

4. It Creates Engaging Learning Experiences 

Action mapping is a powerful tool as it takes into cognizance what a client or learner wants and helps you decide how to best develop and deliver the content. Rather than focusing on the knowledge to be acquired, it provides relevant, practical knowledge that can help them improve. This serves as motivation for them to concentrate on the learning process with their eyes on the finish line, making the marathon both exciting and engaging.

What Are The Key Stages Of Action Mapping?

If you're looking to leverage an action mapping model for designing your eLearning activities, here are some key stages to take note of:

  • Identify the organization goal: As mentioned earlier, the first step to action mapping is to identify what the organization hopes to achieve via the training. It's important to define the goals before anything else, and there are two ways to go about it. First, identify the current measures being used by the organization and how much it needs to be improved. Second, identify what people should do differently.
  • Identify what people need to do to reach that goal: The next thing is to identify what practices, habits, and actions people need to take to achieve those goals. Sometimes, this involves figuring out what people should be doing but are not actually doing. The way to address this issue is to identify the underlying reasons, which may be due to lack of knowledge, motivation, environment, or skills.
  • Design practice activities: This stage depends on the success of the former. If the reason for people not doing what they need to do is identified, only then should practice activities be designed to emphasize and motivate them in that direction. These activities should mirror activities and situations in the workplace as much as possible.
  • Identify what people really need to know: This is the final stage in designing and it involves identifying what learners need to know in order to complete each activity. You can provide this information in the form of additional resources so they are an add-on, not a compulsory part of the course, as this will help keep cognitive overload at bay.

How To Evaluate Your Learning Design

It's important to evaluate every stage of your design process and here are some questions Cathy recommends to ask:

  • Is the blog series an information dump, or will it change performance in a measurable way?
  • Do the objectives define knowledge or describe visible, on-the-job behaviors?
  • Does the material feel like a presentation, or does it feel like one immersive, challenging activity?
  • Are activities mere knowledge checks, or do they make people practice behaviors relevant to the job?


Action mapping is a vital technique that can help any designer create courses that motivate learners through realistic activities as opposed to presentations that throw information at the faces of learners. Consider the action mapping technique for your next eLearning project in order to meet the goals of your organization.

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