Tips For the Effective Use of Gating In Your Online Course

May 5, 2016



Sometimes you need to slow your learners down to make sure they’re getting the most out of your online course.

How do you do that? It’s called gating, and it’s an effective way to make sure learners can’t just click through training without absorbing your content. It’s also a way to keep your learners engaged.

When a course is gated, it means part of a course is off-limits to a learner. Assessment might be part of this: if a learner doesn’t score 70 percent on a quiz, for example, they can’t move to the next lesson until they pass that quiz.

Gating is used in other scenarios as well:

  • To ensure a learner consumes critical information, like terms of use or an academic integrity policy, before they can move forward with training.
  • To prevent a learner from obtaining a proof of completion or other certificate without mastering the material.
  • To stack courses, one building on one another after a learner masters earlier lessons.

SchoolKeep’s instructional design specialist, Julee Ho, has worked with many companies to design effective online training. Here she shares some observations about using gates to slow learners down.

Can you give a quick definition of gating?

Gating is basically when you are preventing a learner from accessing a piece of content until they've met certain criteria.

Related content: How to Transition Your Customer Training From a Cost Center to a Profit Center

Why use gates in a course?

When gating is properly used, it can be very effective in setting up the learning experience that you want and in being able to engage learners the way you want. It just needs to be properly assessed to determine whether that's the right fit for each particular case, and the content that's involved in the course.

How is gating typically used within an online course?

There are a few scenarios in which gating might be used. The first is when an online program has specific success metrics that needs to be measured, and the educator wants an easy and automated way to determine whether learners have met that criteria. The educator will gate the learners from completing the course until they actually meet that criteria, and then the instructor can go back and look at the analytics around the milestones to see how many of the learners actually reached one hundred percent.

How can an instructional designer use gates most effectively in a course?

If you have content that is best consumed in sequential order I would definitely recommend gating, since all the pieces build upon each other, and it's important for the learner to consume the content in order.

I would also recommend that you put a quiz in front of the gate that accurately evaluates the learner's knowledge and forces the learner to reflect on everything they've learned in that section.

Should gating be used in all online training?  

If there's not a strong position as to why the content needs to be consumed in sequential order, I wouldn't recommend it, because gating shouldn't be used to force learners to consume the content. There has to be a specific purpose for wanting that gate there, and it has to really aid in the learning process, not just force learners to sit through a video or read through content.




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