Build Effective Engagement

Engage by Jeanine O’Neill-Blackwell is a great resource for new instructional designers, subject matter experts or anyone looking for the “formula” for course design. As many of you know, I am always interested in books that help teach the essentials of ISD. This is a great book that allows you to not only have the formula for creating a course, but also how your teaching style and learning styles effect the way the course should be built.

There are many books out there that tackle similar subjects, but this book did a great job of teaching it in a practical way that will allow you to apply your new skills right away. Not only do you learn about the theory or reason behind each step but there are real life, practical examples to give you ideas for your own storyboarding and designing.


The Formula: (taken from


Build Effective Engagement

1. Engage: Establish a relationship between content and the learner’s lives and experiences

–Activities that work well: Personal storytelling, simulations, scenarios that really take place, reflections on past experiences, interactive dialogues, sharing stories and insights, creating mindmaps, choosing images that represent perceptions of the content

2. Share: Trainer/Designer creates content that connects learners to the concepts

–Activities that work well: Visual metaphor exercises, imaging exercises, storytelling, visual data representations, multi-media presentations, lecture, demonstration

3. Practice: Hands-on activities, simulations and scenarios that allow a learner to apply what they have learned

–Activities that work well: Role plays, worksheets, field work, simulations, problem solving situations, in-field work

4. Perform: Moves the learner to take ownership of the information by assessing their own performance/progress. Action planning to take the learning back on the job.

–Activities that work well: Self-assessment, scaling criteria, peer feedback, refinement of learning, demonstrations, on-site applications, sharing commitments, follow-up progress reporting sessions.

Overall, this is the missing book on instructional design and how to think about how to build engaging activities that match the way learner’s learn – using all different styles. I highly recommend you add this to your library to truly connect the interactions that you are creating with the effect they will have on learners and their application to real life job performance.