DECLARE: Online Instructional Design for Everyone

ImageYou can view a recording of this webinar at

Presenter: Jason Bickle, Manager of Instructional Design & Development at Experlogix

Summary: This webinar explained Jason Bickle’s workflow for developing online learning. There is nothing new, necessarily, about his design, only that he broke it down and organized it so that all areas are included in the design (interaction, content, assessment, etc.). This is a process he created for his students so that they would have a plug-n-play model for lesson development.

D is for Discovery – This includes typical instructional design process, like needs analysis, objectives, SME management. He creates his initial outline to make sure all the basic pieces of the program are included (primary topics, objectives, flow). This isn’t the DECLARE model, yet, just an overview of the intention. He then plans the detailed DECLARE outline.

His basic outline is as follows:

  • Introduction
    • Attention device
    • Demo benefit & relevancy (adults need this)
    • Preview – conceptual model of course
  • Topic 1
    • Overview – display relation to other topics
    • Engage
    • Conceptualize/Load
    • Activate/Recall
    • Evaluate
  • Topic 2
    • Overview – display relation to other topics
    • Engage
    • Conceptualize/Load
    • Activate/Recall
    • Evaluate
  • Close
    • Review concepts
    • Closing
    • Next steps

E is for Engage – This is how to gain the learner’s attention and to show the benefit of the program, course, or lesson. He says to grab their attention using sights, sounds, and motion. Make sure it’s relevant to them in some way and inform them of the program/course/lesson benefit.

C is for Conceptualize – Build effective models to transfer information. For example, a graphic needs to be a model on which we can build knowledge. Use the models to teach with.

He made an interesting observation about perception and retention:

“Since we cannot see or know everything, we must select information. We select it because its relevant, beneficial, unique, repetitious. Once we select it, we organize it. We control what they are selecting, and then we want them to organize it. We need to give them mental file folders to put them in otherwise they’ll build their own, and maybe misplace the information. We want to control the construct they put the info into. We select how they interpret it. Then we ask them to recall that information (through performance, etc). This is the process of perception. If we use models, it allows us to do this.”

L is for Load – Make sure you have an effective content delivery system. This is for one way transfer of information. This goes hand in hand with conceptualization.

A is for Activate – This is how you engage the learner to use knowledge in some way. He mentioned that he likes to create an “information vacuum” in which he asks a question that the learner does not know the answer to. This creates anxiety so that when the answer is given, the student pays more attention to it to relieve the anxiety. He finds the retention is higher when doing this.

Activate and recall work together to improve retention and retain user attention. Activate grabs their attention and includes exercises, scenarios, games, verbal questions, etc.

R is for Recall – Force your students to recall information or ask them to use the knowledge in some way. It doesn’t necessarily need to be in the LMS or tracked.
Recall forces them to remember what they don’t know. It needs to be practical, but safe to fail.

E is for Evaluate – This is how you evaluate knowledge and performance. Typically using quizzes or other means, like mentorship. This should be more than just quizzes and should measure quantifiable improvement.

Use things like practical performance exams (employees testing each other), surveys, view support tickets, video testimonials, or forums. The idea is to track performance over time. Might want to use coaches or mentors, bringing in that social aspect of learning, as a way to track performance as well.

His last thought of the webinar was about a question he often receives. “How do I improve my online or mobile learning design?” His answer was to be visual, use images and models to make it more engaging. He also mentioned that you need to plan across programs as well.

He takes these concepts and maps them into a storyboard, so he can see how they fit together. He can also see, in a broad way, how best to reuse the concepts throughout the program, course, or lesson. As he steps moves from broad to narrow, the details become clearer. He uses an excel sheet to keep track of all the pieces.


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