4 Simple Steps to e-Learning Design: Action Mapping by Cathy Moore

Whether you’re just getting started designing e-Learning courses or are an experienced e-Learning developer, it’s always beneficial to explore new design models and methods to expand your content and discover new possibilities for your courses. One interesting and popular model for many instructional designers is Cathy Moore’s “Action Mapping,” outlined on her “Cathy Moore Let’s save the world from boring elearning!” blog.

Moore indicates the goal of this model is to help you “change what people do, not just what they know” with “action-packed materials that are 100% dedicated to improving business performance.” Rather than including loads of information and tossing in a quick quiz, Moore claims that Action Mapping results in real actions, rather than merely delivering information. Moore claims, “A tool like the action map makes everyone focus on the business reason for the project and keeps extraneous information out – it provides discipline.”

The Action Mapping model includes four points or steps that create the backbone of your action map for e-Learning course creation: 1. Identify the business goal, 2. Identify what people need to do, 3. Design practice activities and 4. Identify what people really really need to know.

1. Identify the Business Goal
Identifying the business goal keeps the course focused on what the learners actually need to know, rather than simply including all of the information that could be relevant. This way, you include the most essential points and avoid the inclusion of extra and unnecessary information. As Moore indicates, a measureable business goal will help you design relevant activities, identify the most important content, evaluate success and show the value of your training.

Action Map: This goal is the center of your map.

2. Identify What People Need to Do
This step pinpoints all of the steps or actions that employees need to take to achieve the business goal. These steps indicate actions, not pieces of knowledge and should be things that employees will do. For example, if your learners sell energy solutions, you may want to identify the types of things they need to do to increase sales such as explain advantages of their solutions over competitors’ to potential clients.

Action Map: These actions will surround your goal in the center of your map

3. Design Practice Activities
Practice activities refer to real activities or tasks that employees will perform in the workplace and should mirror real-world situations as much as possible. An example is to identify a possible problem the employee may encounter and design an exercise to help them find the best solution.

Action Map: Each practice on the map will relate to an activity or activities, all of which relate back to the business goal.

4. Identify What People Really Really Need to Know
Find the minimum amount of information that your employees must have in order to complete each practice activity. According to Moore, “if the information doesn’t directly support an activity, don’t add it!” If there is additional information, perhaps including your company’s history or other valuable resources, consider creating a special place for these aside from the training in an appendix or “Additional Resources” section that the learners are not required to navigate through.

Action Map: Each piece of information directly relates to a practice activity, which accordingly, relates back to all of the actions and the overall business goal.

As Moore notes, Action Mapping is a great way to break out of a linear course. This non-linear structure can give you the inspiration to design a more engaging e-Learning course that will motivate learners to explore, learn and retain the concepts and actions in your online training.

Easily create your action map with a mind-mapping tool such as Bubbl.us and use it as your guide to quickly create your e-Learning course. For more information regarding Action Mapping, please refer to Cathy Moore’s blog, “Be an elearning action hero!.”