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Three things to do BEFORE you present instruction

Human Brain Lobes on Blackboard.

Educational theorist and researcher Robert M. Gagné observed skilled teachers in action, and noticed that they followed nine specific steps in order to create effective learning.

He codified these steps and called them "The Nine Events of Instruction".

Let's take a closer look at the three things Gagné  noticed highly effective teachers do, BEFORE they present the new material they want their students to learn.

The first step is: Gain the learner's attention.  (See how I gained YOUR attention by using a different font color and larger text?)

How can you gain your learner's attention before presenting new instruction in your online course? 

Here's a humorous example: an attention-grabbing cat video I  designed as an ice-breaker for a (hypothetical) online piano course for reluctant first-time musicians:

I hope you got a kick out of that video,

and that it got  (and held) your attention!

Here's why it works:

  • It's funny
  • It's short
  • It's unexpected
  • It tunes in to the learner's anxiety and concerns (about being able to learn to play the piano)
  • It's supportive and encouraging
  • It leads directly into the (imaginary) piano lesson to follow
  • Everybody loves cat videos


Notice that this opening video does not actually start teaching how to play the piano. 


Gaining the learner's attention is an introductory step to take BEFORE you present the actual instruction.

What's next? 

The next step is to let your learners know what they will be learning in the instruction that is going to follow.

(You're still not presenting the instruction. 

 You're just TELLING THEM what they are going to learn).

In our imaginary music course, the instructor might say something like "In this lesson, you will learn how to play a simple chord on the piano."

And there's still one MORE thing you need to do before you actually start teaching the material. (Keep reading to find out what it is....)

Grab your learners' attention

with stunning digital workbooks.

It's FAST, EASY, and FREE!


The third step to take before actually presenting the instruction, is to help learners recall anything they already know, that is relevant to what you are about to teach them.  

For example, in our imaginary piano course, the instructor might say, "Remember that yesterday we learned the names of the notes on the piano. In today's lesson, you will learn how to put those notes together to make a pleasing sound called a 'chord'."

Course Design Formula™ Book



If you'd like to learn more about the three steps to take BEFORE you present any new instruction, check out pages 161 to 183 of my book, Course Design Formula: How to Teach Anything to Anyone Online.

I have a mission  for you (should you choose to accept it.... )

Think about a specific lesson that you'd like to teach online, and ask yourself these questions:

Before you begin actually teaching the lesson:

  1. 1
    How will you gain YOUR learners' attention?
  2. 2
    How will you inform them about what you're going to teach?
  3. 3
    How will you help them remember relevant things they already know, that will help them learn what you're about to teach?

I'd love to hear your ideas.

Write to me at Rebecca@learnandgetsmarter.com and let's talk about it!