Borrowing from the 5 Es Learning Model

Borrowing from the 5 Es Learning Model

The 5 Es Learning Model, popular with many science educators (and promoted by NASA), offers inspiration for online and blended course development.
Instructional designers and course developers can borrow ideas from this constructionist learning approach and adapt them for online use.
Steps in the 5 Es Learning Model
The model has five steps: engage, explore, explain, extend, and evaluate.
The first step is to engage the learner. This happens through relating the material to the learner’s own world, sparking curiosity and questions.
The second step is for the learner to explore the subject matter with hands-on (if possible) involvement. This may include experimentation or observation, building models, collecting data, and in other ways building experiences. In this part of the cycle, the teacher provides the raw materials for the process, but does not lead by example; instead, he or she only provides guidance and suggestions to help students draw their own conclusions. This process ideally should be driven by the students’ own motivation to develop more knowledge.
The third step is for the student to explain what they’ve discovered, and how it relates to previous experiences and ideas. Students typically are encouraged to provide explanations for what they observed, and to move from the specific to the general.
The fourth step is for the learner to extend (sometimes this step is called elaborate or expand) their conclusions to other concepts, to solve problems, and to realize other implications of their newfound knowledge. With what they learn, students can begin to look at the world in different ways.
The fifth and final step is for the learner and instructor to evaluate what the student has come to understand from the lesson. This diagnostic allows the instructor to monitor the student’s progress, and adjust lesson plans accordingly.
Adapting the model for online learning
Engaging the learner from the very start of a course or training session, as advocated by the 5Es model, represents a pedagogical best practice–one so obvious that it’s surprising how often it is ignored. It’s especially important in an online setting where there may not be visual contact with the students (so it’s harder for the instructor to gauge learner interest) or where the learning is self-paced. Students should be encouraged to share their related experiences through interactive exercises or discussion or chat topics.
The middle stages of the 5Es model (explore, explain, and extend) lend themselves well to narrative learning, especially real world case studies or scenarios where learners can draw upon existing knowledge in solving problems or making decisions.
A comprehensive evaluation at the close of training or learning provides not only diagnostics but also helps students internalized what they have learned. We’ve found that embedding assessments throughout the learning experience, as well as at the end, provides added benefits in terms of mastery and retention.


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