October 1st, 2013 E-Learning

Instructional designers are always looking for tips and tricks to improve the elearning, or training, that they are developing.  There are many successful models available to use today, all of which can be applied (or modified) in their own way to maximize the qualify of materials.

Before using any kind of model, it is important to remember that these are meant to be used just as tools to help with the content creation process. To often people look for the “winning formula”, when in reality this does not exist.

Learning is dynamic, and therefore so should your approach to content creation. Instead of relying upon one structured procedure, you should assess each elearning project or training initiative by itself and mold your approach to development accordingly.

The PAF Model

In this model, “PAF” stands for Presentation, Application, and Feedback.  The success of this model involves creating a proper blend.

Presentation – In this phase of the approach, learners are presented the content – be it in PowerPoint, programs like Articulate Storyline, through job aids, lectures, or videos.

Application – In a controlled fashion, create an environment where users can apply the new information that was just presented.  This is often a good time to implement simulations.

Feedback – Based on the performance in the Application phase, give the users feedback on what they did well and the areas they can focus on for improvement.  This real-time feedback allows for early alterations in behavior for increased performance improvement.

In general, it is best to have a great proportion of your training (elearning or live-presentations) involve more Application and Feedback than Presentation.  People tend to learn best when they are “doing” rather than listening.

Again, the PAF model is just a framework.  The key takeaway is that it is important to build-in some kind of exercise or “try-me” component into your training initiative as it helps learners internalize the content.



Nicole Legault
Paul Wilson

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About Justin Ferriman

Justin Ferriman started LearnDash, the WordPress LMS trusted by Fortune 500 companies, major universities, training organizations, and entrepreneurs worldwide for creating (and selling) their online courses. Justin's Homepage | Twitter


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I will admit that the PAF model is okay, but it emphasizes three of the five important elements described in Merrill’s “First Principles of Instruction.” I can only wonder… why ignore the other two principles that have been proven so effective?

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