How Does Action Mapping Motivate Learners?
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How To Use Action Mapping To Motivate Learners

Understanding and implementing action mapping will let digital learning designers actually create courses that motivate learners through realistic activities that let them practice learned skills instead of simple presentations that throw information in their faces. But first, let us have a look at the history of action mapping and what it is.

What Is Action Mapping?

Action mapping is a framework/method/process that helps Instructional Designers design business training. It was developed in 2008 by Cathy Moore. It is quite effective in analyzing performance problems, identifying solutions and designing activities that challenge learners and help them practice learned knowledge. It should be understood that action mapping isn’t a framework that lets Instructional Designers design a digital learning course, it is a far broader framework which can, however, let Instructional Designers design activities in their courses that will help learners change habits or learn complex skills. The main goal of action mapping is to let the L&D team of an organization design activities which increase the absorption and retention of knowledge be it in any training format, including digital learning courses. Let us now have a look at how action mapping can motivate learners.

According to Cathy Moore herself, learners are motivated when they feel autonomy, competence as well as relatedness in their training. If Instructional Designers use action mapping effectively, they’ll automatically create training activities that instill all these feelings inside a learner. But in case they don’t know how to, let us explain how.

1. Autonomy

Autonomy is a simple enough concept and is defined as the freedom to choose things out of one’s own volition without any external pressure. What designers need to bring to their courses is not exactly autonomy, but the “feeling” of autonomy. Make the learner feel that they are making the choices and not that someone is telling them what to do or think. This can be done using scenarios with authentic choices in your digital learning course, showing them the consequences of their choices whether good or bad using branching scenarios, offering learners resources for further studying on subjects and skills being taught and providing learners with clear goals in every interactivity, microlearning module or module you give them.

2. Competence

Learners need to feel that they are competent enough in order to be motivated to complete their digital learning courses (or training). A course or activity that is too easy or too hard will result in them feeling over-competent or incompetent, both of which are bad. This can be easily remedied by starting with easy activities at the beginning of your course, and then slowly increasing the difficulty level as it happens in games (yes, this is a gamification strategy). Secondly, don’t shame learners for making wrong choices and offer constructive feedback even when they make mistakes. As mentioned before, don’t offer too obvious choices in quizzes, assessments, knowledge checks, or scenarios, they make learners feel like they are wasting their time.

3. Relatedness

Learners need to relate to the content in the digital learning courses in order to feel motivated to complete them. Digital learning courses are getting more and more learner-centric these days in order to engage learners and make them relate to the learning content. Some things designers can do to help learners do that include creating avatars/characters in digital learning courses that can be named and customized according to the learner’s choice, use environments and situations that are similar to their real-life environments and situations at their workplace (but not too much, add an element of imagination too), create activities where learners have to collaborate with their team members to accomplish a goal, as well as writing realistic dialogues and offering realistic choices in the course.

Action mapping will help you perform flawless needs analyses as well as design your training courses in the most effective way possible, leading to highly-motivated, knowledgeable, and productive employees. Make sure your organization’s Instructional Designers and L&D team learn this model as soon as they can.

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