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A response to The Serious eLearning Manifesto – part three

Serious elearning manifesto - person uses a performance supportJoin us for the final part of Imogen Casebourne’s response to The Serious eLearning Manifesto. Part one and part two are also available for you to check out the response in full.

 16.  Measure Effectiveness

Good learning cannot be assured without measurement, which includes the following:

a. Measure Outcomes
Ideally, we will measure whether the learning has led to benefits for the individual and/or the organization.
b. Measure Actual Performance Results
Ideally, an appropriate time after the learning (for example, two to six weeks later), we will measure whether the learner has applied the learning, the level of success, the success factors and obstacles encountered, and the level of supervisor support where warranted.
c. Measure Learning Comprehension and Decision Making During Learning
At a minimum, during the learning, we will measure both learner comprehension and decision-making ability. Ideally, we would also measure these at least a week after the learning.
d. Measure Meaningful Learner Perceptions
When we measure learners’ perceptions, we will measure their perceptions of the following: their ability to apply what they’ve learned, their level of motivation, and the support they will receive in implementing the learning.

We agree, and in terms of measuring impact, refer to our white paper on evaluation for tips. Get in touch with our elearning consultants for help in designing to achieve maximum impact.

17.  Iterate in Design, Development, and Deployment

We won’t assume that our first pass is right, but we will evaluate and refine until we have achieved our design goals.

This is something which is built into the core of Epic’s process for designing elearning and multi-device learning, as well as into our DRIVE model for designing performance support.

18.  Support Performance Preparation

We will prepare learners during the elearning event to be motivated to apply what they’ve learned, inoculated against obstacles, and prepared to deal with specific situations.

This seems sensible. Flagging learners to easily found performance support would be a good start.

19.  Support Learner Understanding with Conceptual Models

We believe that performance should be based upon conceptual models to guide decisions, and that such models should be presented, linked to steps in examples, practised with, and used in feedback.

We agree up to a point. But we think that this might depend on the type of performance being elicited. Do you need a conceptual model to learn how to ride a bike?  It might help perhaps, but an explicit conceptual model may not be where every successful cyclist starts.

20.  Use Rich Examples and Counterexamples

We will present examples and counterexamples, together with the underlying thinking.

This makes sense: people learn through examples and the more and richer the examples available the better the learning experience is likely to be.

21.  Enable Learners to Learn from Mistakes

Failure is an option. We will, where appropriate, let learners make mistakes so they can learn from them. In addition, where appropriate, we will model mistake-making and mistake-fixing.

We heartily agree. Epic’s goal-based and learn-apply design models enable us to provide a safe environment to learn from mistakes. Simulations do this too (refer to our white paper on simulations).

22.  Respect Learners

We will acknowledge and leverage the knowledge and skills learners bring to the learning environment through their past experience and individual contexts.

Back in the fifties, Gagne highlighted the importance of this in his nine steps of instruction. It is still important today, and key to engaging learners, especially with mandatory training.

Respecting learners is about personalising learning – something which is very important and much more possible today. Learners won’t welcome a sheep dip approach to training and one way to avoid this is through role filters and diagnostics which tailor training to training needs. The advent of Tin Can offers new opportunities to record and respond to learners’ individual contexts.

Another important move and one mentioned earlier in the manifesto is providing just-in-time learning through performance support rather than just-in-case learning in the form of long upfront courses.


In conclusion, I believe The Serious eLearning Manifesto makes many important and valid points. After so many years of learning technology, it seems surprising that some of the basic principles need to be listed in a manifesto at all, but the sad fact is that there are still learning initiatives out there which don’t conform to these principles. As long as this is the case, the manifesto must act as a watchword for good elearning design.

In their premiere video, the instigators express the hope that the principles can be used by designers as guidelines to benchmark (and if benchmarking is something that you’d like to do more of, we think that the annual Towards Maturity report is a great place to start) and also as ammunition for designers in discussions with stakeholders, to help them win the argument about quality of design.

The instigators intend the manifesto as a free to use tool for the community, to help people do better – a worthy undertaking and one that we endorse at Epic. Our freely available white papers, how to, and at a glance guides also attempt to share guidance with the wider community and we always welcome feedback on these, so do take a look at our resources for more elearning inspiration.

This post was written by Imogen Casebourne and first appeared on the Epic blog on 8th May 2014.