There are many different eLearning models available, but that doesn’t imply they’re all made equal or can all be used to develop an eLearning course for the same organization or business. On the other hand, the Four-Door eLearning Model provides a substantial number of advantages. It enables instructional designers to rapidly and accurately build attractive and successful eLearning courses, and SMEs and others can also use it with no formal training as instructional designers.

The four-door eLearning design paradigm, developed by Dr. Sivasailam Thiagarajan (Thiagi), is an instructional design approach that places learners in charge of their learning. It appears to be straightforward. Yes, it is. Four doors link to each other. The design of each one is to resemble four critical aspects of the learning environment. And they’re all working for the same goal.

The Four-Door eLearning Model: An Introduction
four-door elearning

Thiagi was dissatisfied with how eLearning emphasized passive learning (where participants learned mostly through reading) interspersed with pointless multiple-choice exam items many years ago. Employees were thrilled since they could attend these classes on their own time, at a low cost, and without traveling. The issue was that these eLearning courses did not function when it came to mastering and applying new skills and knowledge.

Thiagi came sorted the learning activities into four categories. He compared these groups to chambers divided by four doors. Each space was connected to the others and adhered to a set of design guidelines:

  • The learner’s learning must be relevant to him or her.
  • Learning must be linked to a commercial goal.
  • What matters is the activity, not the content.
  • The students are free to set their own pace and sequence.
  • Don’t rely on technology just because it is convenient.

Thiagi’s four-door eLearning approach is appealing since it acknowledges the learning process that instructional designers go through when working on a project. And it’s applied to the students themselves. Learners have control over how they progress through the program, including which doors to open and when. As a result, they are more engaged with the material. As a result, knowledge intake and retention improve.

It’s a basic instructional design paradigm that allows training and non-training professionals to create eLearning programs that meet the demands of a wide range of learners rapidly and affordably.

So, what does each of these doors signify? Let’s have a look at what we’ve got.

The Four-Door eLearning Model: A Look at Each of the Doors

The four-door eLearning model by Thiagi is designed with the goal in mind. So, before you begin constructing your four rooms, you must first determine what deliverables or activities your learner will need to complete. Then, using this as a foundation, create or add content to support these tasks in your eLearning design.

For example, your overall training goal could be to improve employee awareness of compliance training to better prepare for the next audit. Your students will need to complete specific assignments to support this in such a situation. So, now, the time has finally come to open the first door and see how our hypothetical scenario would work out using Thiagi’s four-door eLearning concept.

Door 1: The Library

A study area is provided. This area is where your students will find the resources they need to expand their knowledge, as the name implies. It’s entirely up to you what you keep in your Library. Videos, papers, and images, as well as audio snippets, podcasts, checklists, templates, and slideshows, are all possible items. Only the relevance to the program’s ultimate deliverables should be used as a criterion.

These resources are likely already in your possession. If that’s the case, adding them to the room is a breeze. If your toolkit is missing something, now is the time to generate new resources and save them here. Why not take it a step further and categorize what you have on your “shelves”? For example, classify your assets as “Critical” or “Recommended.” Alternatively, utilize any other categories that could assist your learner in navigating the content.

Door 2: The Playground

The Playground is a place to have fun. Small, self-contained web games (Thiagi refers to them as “frame games”) abound in The Playground. These are intended to assist students with practicing and applying their information and testing recall. Each game is quick, enjoyable, and focused, and it complements one of the Library’s resources.

These games should be simple to play and feature multiple-choice or typed-in responses. Consider games like hangman, tic tac toe, crossword puzzles, and anagrams. They’re created to be played repeatedly, with the levels of difficulty increasing each time, to improve knowledge fluency. Then there’s a post-game debriefing.

You can make your own if you have a skilled instructional designer and time on your hands. However, if you’re short on time or money, why not use a game generator or templates? There are several to choose from (including Thiagi’s recommendations), and customizing them takes only a few minutes.

Making flashcards that describe various circumstances would be a good practice game for product training. Each scenario will depict a common customer complaint, and students will be asked to propose one solution. The remainder of the team might then rank the responses: which was the most successful, which was the most cost-effective, which was the most innovative, and so on.

If you’re educating your teams online, creating quizzes through your LMS is a quick and easy solution. Learners will be able to put their skills to the test and even compete against one another.

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Door 3: The Cafe

The Cafe is a place where people can talk and interact. Learning becomes communal in this space. Learners are invited to participate in discussions that examine the more unclear aspects of the course through open-ended questions, forums, and case studies. And the information they’ve gathered thus far.

Other students and subject matter experts (SMEs) join learners in the Cafe to contribute their opinions, information, and experiences. Students can do this by typing their answers to open-ended questions into a box. Other participants will then have access to them and will be able to review and compare them to their own. SMEs can also see and respond to the information.

Wikis, blogs, and message boards are examples of social learning components that can keep people connected and sharing. Using the product knowledge example mentioned earlier, the learners could be asked, for example, how they would answer a customer’s question concerning customization.

Door 4: The Evaluation Center

A place to think about things: the Evaluation Centre, sometimes known as the Torture Chamber, tests to see if learners have learned the skills and information needed to execute the objectives or activities you set out at the start. The performance assessments here are more like assignments based on on-the-job experiences or obstacles, as opposed to the games in the Playground and the talks in the Cafe.

For example, you could create an assignment around presenting a product demo to a specific customer or business type. The assignment might be conducted as a role-playing exercise via a web conferencing platform with a training instructor or subject matter expert acting as the client to make the assignment more real-life. Alternatively, a one-way video with the learner talking through their demo can be filmed.

How and Why to Use the Four-Door eLearning Model for Corporate Training?

Before we go any further, it’s important noting that Thiagi discusses his four-door eLearning design model in a particular order, which we’ve mirrored here. He emphasizes, however, that students can open the doors in any order they like, based on their tastes. For example, more traditional rule-followers will likely stick to the conventional format, which begins with the Library learning aspect and ends with the assignments – the Evaluation Centre.

Depending on what piques their interest and how they feel at a given time, more impulsive, less traditional personality types will open doors as per their choice. Super confident students may skip straight to the assessment stage, skipping any studying or sharing.

Focusing on the final test, selecting or designing learning materials that build the essential skills and knowledge to pass the test, and offering chances for practice and reflection are the best ways to execute the four-door eLearning model. The final test is the most crucial aspect of the model. It’s a good idea to ask your subject matter expert to determine the performance task and then work backward from there.

Manuals, films, marketing materials, documents, intranet articles, job aids, flow diagrams, and organizational charts are examples of content your SME can help you find for the Library. Then, by offering three difficulty levels and limitless attempts, use the Playground to create mini-games or activities that enhance learning reinforcement. This can also detect gaps in knowledge that learners can fill by using the Library.

Provide opportunities for learners to reflect in the Café and the ability to observe model answers or behaviors. Use social learning platforms to get extra help from peers and professionals.

The Library’s information, the Arcade’s activities, and the Café’s reflection opportunities should help the student pass the final test, an online evaluation, or an observable workplace assessment.

Advantages of This Approach

Thiagi’s four-door eLearning concept is becoming increasingly popular because it:

  • Is adaptable: Learning can be guided, self-directed, or a combination of the two. More doors can be added, as well as the names of each door.
  • Learners are empowered because they can absorb the course and its information at their leisure. They are not required to read every learning resource or participate in every conversation. They can choose what they need to do in order to learn new knowledge and pass the final assessment.
  • Cost-cutting: It makes the most of existing resources, technology, and techniques while avoiding the need for eLearning design expertise. Non-training professionals, for example, SMEs with no expertise in instructional design, can use the four-door model to create an effective training program.
  • Is simple to create and implement: With the structure in place and no need for a deep content analysis, all your instructional designer needs to do now is sit down with your subject matter experts and define the final activity/task. Then choose the material that goes along with it. Games can be created quickly utilising readily available templates and resources.
  • Simulates real-life situations: Learners will be comfortable with the format, flexibility, and content interactions. Gamification will appeal to Gen X and millennials in particular. This increases engagement and displays practical application in the workplace.
  • Knowledge retention is improved: The four-door concept requires more input from the learner because it allows for a lot more self-direction. As a result, content stickiness is aided.

There are several successful eLearning models out there. Only you can decide which one is best for you. Thiagi’s four-door model isn’t without flaws. If people are more used to traditional learning methods, navigating can be challenging. You may have to do some digging to find the best games for your training goals. Also, a means to provide a more advanced level of simulation, although the assignment in the Evaluation Room can give this opportunity. But there’s a lot to like about Thiagi’s approach for many people. And, if you’re short on resources and on a tight timeline, it could be exactly what you need to get your eLearning program off the ground quickly.

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