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How to Create Engaging eLearning Activities

Allen Interactions (2018).

Do you create eLearning modules that just convey information or do they provide an engaging and immersive learning experience?

When we are designing an eLearning course it can be tempting to gather all of the information relevant to the topic and disguise its volume by breaking it up over information screens, quizzes and videos. Whilst this provides the learner with the content that they need, it doesn’t necessarily provide them with a valuable and immersive learning experience. Rather than the design being focused on the content, it should center around what the learner needs to do (Edwards, 2015). An approach we’ve grown fond of and fan-girl over is the CCAF model created by Allen Interactions, which enables you to create engaging learning activities.

Dr. Allen’s CCAF Model is a useful tool for any instructional designer as it defines the characteristics that a good eLearning interaction should have (Keramida, 2015). In this blog I will explore each part of the model and share some practical examples to support you in implementing their pearls of wisdom into your next eLearning project.

CCAF stands for Context, Challenge, Activity and Feedback. These can achieve true instructional interactivity and lead to actual performance change (Edwards, 2015).

Let’s discover what each part of the model means and how you can use it for your learning solutions.

1. Context – A meaningful framework and conditions

The CCAF model suggests that for learners to be able to gain an understanding of the intent of the learning and to be able to apply their learnings post the course, they require a meaningful framework and conditions, also known as context (Edwards, 2015).

You can incorporate context into your learning solution by simply placing the learner in their day to day context or the context required for the learning experience. This could be done through imagery, stories, audio or videos. The intent is for your learner to understand how the learning relates to their day to day life and environment so that they will understand how to implement the learning in the real-world.

If your learning is for fire fighters, position them in front of a house that is burning down. If your learning is for office workers, position them at their desk interacting with a colleague. Put yourself in the shoes of your learner, obtain a deep understanding of their context and replicate it throughout the learning experience.

Below is an example of an eLearning activity that incorporates context. The scenario puts the learner in the first person context and its intent is to replicate their actual work environment. The introduction text explains the context to them, “You approach your desk to start your shift for the day”, and the screen depicts what their work environment looks like, including desks, computers, coffee mugs and team mates.

Belvista Studios Example

2. Challenge – A stimulus or urgency to act

We are now up to the exciting part, creating a compelling challenge within the context! The challenge will require the learner to make a decision or take action with some sense of urgency. A challenge results in your learner thinking that what they do matters (Edwards, 2015) and therefore they are more inclined to be engaged and to reflect on the content that they have learnt at a deeper level.

Using the same example as above, we are now focusing on the ‘challenge’ within the context. The learner needs to make a decision on how they want to react to the situation. To create a sense of urgency you could add a timer to reflect the social norm of responding within a socially acceptable time limit.

Belvista Studios Example

3. Activity – A physical response or gesture in response to the challenge

The activity part of the model involves the physical response or gesture to the challenge at hand (Edwards, 2015).

Prior to designing your activities think about what behaviours you would like your learner to demonstrate as well as any skills that you would like them to obtain. You can then incorporate these behaviours and skills into your activities. Ensure that your activities represent reality so that learners can replicate the behaviours outside of the learning experience. Consider the learning experience a safe place to practice prior to undertaking it in the real world.

In the example we have been using, the response or gesture to the challenge is presented through the red buttons on screen. This allows the learner to react to the challenge.

Belvista Studios Example

4. Feedback – The reflection back to the learner about the effectiveness of their actions

We are now up to the final part of the model, feedback! Feedback is the messaging that the learner receives depending on the actions that they take in response to the challenge.

It is important that feedback is helpful and either acknowledges correct behaviour or steers them towards it (Edwards, 2015). Rather than just stating that the learner made the right or wrong decision, show them the realistic outcome along with how to improve if necessary. Provide the learner with insight of the consequences involved by embedding the consequences directly into the simulated environment.

An example of feedback that reflects the effectiveness of the learner’s actions is shown below. The screen confirms the choice that the learner made, shows the outcome of their decision and provides them with helpful feedback that either acknowledges correct behaviour or steers them towards it.

Belvista Studios Example

That’s all for this blog on the CCAF model. This is a brief introduction into a model we find very valuable when designing activities for eLearning. Allen Interactions have many resources and deeper insights into CCAF, which you can find on their blog here. One of our favourite resources for creating the ‘Context’ for our learning solutions is this one. I hope that by gaining an understanding of this model, you have picked up some tips and tricks to master engaging and immersive learning activities. What models do you use to create effective eLearning? Have you used the CCAF model before? We would love to hear what helps you to improve your learning activities!


Allen Interactions. (2018). eLearning Design with CCAF. Retrieved from

Edwards. E (2014). Practitioners Guide. CCAF Context Design Road Map for e-Learning. Retrieved from

Edwards. E (2015). Using Instructional Interactivity to Improve e-Learning Design. Retrieved from

Keramida. M (2015). Create Effective eLearning Interactions Using the CCAF Model. Retrieved from

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