pattern #3 - Action Cards

Activity Cards


Provide learners with a set of swappable cards that present an authentic narrative (e.g. a common day at the office) where learners are presented with new information and asked to apply it in various situations.

  • VALUE Knowledge and Skills
  • Design Effort Medium
  • Share


Action cards are a great way to present new information in context in order to improve transfer, especially if budget is low. At the core of action cards, there is a narrative that presents information in a conversational style, which according to Mayer’s Principle of Personalization, manages to engage learners with the computers as a social conversational partner. Research on text cognitive processing shows that learners work harder when they feel they are in a conversation with an author, rather than just receiving information. Mayer’s research on social cues proves the same thing. Having social cues in a text (such as “I” or “you” and a conversation tone) will engage your learners in deeper cognitive processing.


Moreover, each slide presents just one simple idea which is easy to grasp for new learners. This way of chunking new information in very small bits is a very effective way of avoiding memory overload, which is a very common when designing content for novice learners.
Finally, new information is put into practice through basic but authentic interaction which replicate real-world scenarios. This improves transfer and elaboration of information, which improves retention.


The main components of the action cards are:
      Content Cards, which presents new information in a conversational style, with each card presenting just one basic idea, easy to grasp, which is required later in the interactive cards;
      Interactive Cards, which embed basic interactions, such as drag and drop, select of fill-in, which require learners to put into practice new information;

Activity Rating Pattern
Provide Context

As action cards require information to be presented in context, it is essential to start with a brief that places the learner in a real-life context.

Activity Rating Pattern
Continue with Content Cards

New knowledge needs to be presented in a conversational style, with each slide presenting just one basic idea.

Activity Rating Pattern
Add Interactive Cards

Ask your learners to put new information into practice through basic, yet authentic interactions.

Activity Rating Pattern
Provide Feedback Cards

Provide feedback at the end of each activity and guide your learners to review some of the cards if necessary.

Activity Rating Pattern
Close with Summary Cards

Close with a short summary that help learners refresh everything they have learned and organize the new information in a more meaningful way.

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