Have you heard of the PAF Model for instructional design? PAF—which stands for Presentation, Application, and Feedback—is an instructional design model that defines how to structure training content. The general rule of the PAF Model is that one-third of a course should focus on presenting content, one-third should allow learners to apply what they learned in the course, and one-third should provide learners with real-time feedback on the application of their skills. 

Courses that use the PAF Model engage learners by actively involving them rather than boring them by only focusing on presenting content. Let’s take a closer look at each element of the model.

Presentation Methods

Presentation methods are ways to deliver course content to learners. This part of the course is typically more passive for learners; they take in and absorb the content. You can present content in many ways, including:

  • Videos
  • Text
  • Images and graphics
  • Audio and narration
  • Charts and graphs

A common presentation method is a slide that includes bullet-point text and an accompanying image. While there is nothing wrong with presenting material in this manner, be sure it is not the only way you format your presentation. Not all slides should look the same, so use different layouts to add variety to your course.

Application Methods

Many people learn through doing, and application methods allow learners to apply what they have learned. This part of the course involves the learner and requires their input or participation. There are many ways to help learners apply what they have learned, such as:

  • Simulations
  • Scenario-based exercises
  • Practice exercises
  • Case studies
  • Knowledge checks or quizzes
  • Games
  • Interactions

Consider the timeliness and frequency of the application methods you use. Don’t wait until the end of your course to include application methods, and don’t group all of your application methods together. Spread them out throughout the course, being sure to add one at the end of each topic or section. And just as variety is essential to content presentation, it is also vital to application methods. Make sure you are engaging your learners in a variety of ways, not the same one over and over! 

Feedback Methods

Feedback methods are how you provide learners with feedback about how they applied the content in the course—specifically:

  • Videos
  • Text
  • Images and graphics
  • Audio and narration

Feedback should be timely, specific, and consistent. For example, when building a knowledge check, provide instantaneous feedback after the learner submits their answer for each question. 

Feedback shouldn’t only be provided in terms of “correct” or “incorrect”; it should also include details as to why the learner’s response was correct or incorrect. Giving this insight will encourage those who got it right and educate those who got it wrong. 

Consider allowing multiple attempts for learners who incorrectly complete an activity, so they can continue to practice their skills until they succeed, and a review section for learners who correctly complete an activity to reinforce and retain what they applied. 

Summary

The PAF Model is a simple but effective way to approach e-learning development. Evenly distributing presentation, application, and feedback throughout a course will educate and engage learners. 

Take a look at your latest courses and ask yourself: am I spending more of my learner’s time on presentation than on activities? If yes, consider adding elements that make your courses more dynamic and interactive for the learner.

Resources

Looking for ways to make your e-learning courses more interactive? Check out these articles:

Which application and feedback methods do you like to include in your e-learning courses? Share your ideas in a comment below.

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