How 7taps aligns with the science of learning

An educator and a researcher at the Ontario Institute for Studies in Education at the University of Toronto. Her research focus is microlearning and cognitive psychology.

The context

Nidhi has worked with 7taps for over 1,5 years now. She has created more than 30 mini-courses for undergraduate students, graduate students and for folks working in the industry.

She kindly agreed to write this review of 7taps Microlearning to share her analysis of the platform from the ‘science of learning’ lens.

In this first part, she has chosen to analyze the platform using Rosenshine’s ten golden principles of instruction.

Rosenshine’s Principles of Instruction

A quick look at the background of these principles.

Siegfried Engelmann was an American educator, who developed the model of Direct Instruction (uppercase DI) in the 1960s.

DI model “emphasizes on well-developed, carefully planned, lessons, focussing on small learning steps with clearly defined and prescribed learning tasks.”

Kirschner and Hendrick, 2020

Engelmann claimed that clear instruction should eliminate misconceptions leading to more effective and efficient learning. Barak Rosenshine, who was a professor in the Department of Educational Psychology at the University of Illinois, further developed Engelmann’s notion calling it direct instruction (with lower di) covering a collection of variables related to optimal learning.

In 2012, Rosenshine published an article in the American Educator magazine about ten instructional principles that have proven their value time and again.

These principles were developed based on vast amount of empirical evidence from three different bodies of research. The three bodies of research include:

  1. Research in cognitive science;
  2. Research on the classroom practices of master teachers;
  3. Research on cognitive supports to help students learn complex tasks.
“Even though these are three very different bodies of research, there is no conflict at all between the instructional suggestions that come from each of these three sources”

Rosenshine, 2012

Siegfried Engelmann
Siegfried Engelmann
Barak Rosenshine
Barak Rosenshine
Principle 1

Begin a learning experience with a short review

Regular review helps strengthen the connections of learned content. It helps us recall concepts, words and procedures effortlessly (and automatically) when we need this material to solve problems or to learn new material.

This significantly decreases load on our working memory making it available to process new learning and helps with retention.

How 7taps aligns with it

7taps is designed in a way that can make regular review easy and effective and it’s not overwhelming for the learners.

You can create a microlesson or a mini-course that can offer review opportunities and learners can complete in a matter of minutes. They can also interact with the microlearning more than once because it is “short and sweet”.

7taps courses are short, light, and fun, but they do the job. People know what to expect and they appreciate it.
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Glenn Smith
Learning & Development Manager
Principle 2

Present new learning material in small steps

Working memory is a place where we process the new, incoming information. It can only hold 4-7 pieces of information at any one time. Not considering this limitation of our working memory can significantly increase the cognitive load, thereby preventing any learning from happening.

Presenting information in small steps can avoid cognitive overload by allowing learners’ working memory to process what is being presented.

How 7taps aligns with it

The way content is presented in 7taps seems well-aligned with the human cognitive architecture. When the learners interact with the content, their working memory has the time to process it.

The very design of the platform discourages content creators to have too many cards in one mini-course and too much content on each card. This naturally forces content creators to pause and take a step back and to rethink how the information should be presented.

7taps is taking away a lot of cognitive load from my head because it enables me to think from the learner's perspective. "Be brief and engaging." I could not think this way before.
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Funda Yokari
Team Manager, L&D Program
Principle 3

Ask questions to support connections between new and prior knowledge

When learners answer questions, they practice what has just been presented (i.e., new knowledge) and this gives them an opportunity to establish connections with their pre-existing knowledge.

It’s important to embed regular knowledge checks to be able to understand what the possible gaps in learning might be. It can also help the learners develop the much needed metacognitive skills to identify their own gaps and understand what the missing link might be.

How 7taps aligns with it

When using 7taps, you can embed quick knowledge checks throughout the course by simply using the ‘quiz’ card. It’s easy to integrate and offers a much needed recall opportunity.

We know from research that recall or retrieval leads to retention. Learners can take these quizzes any number of times, they are usually zero- or low-stakes. Content developers can also embed feedback within each question to offer further support.

7taps is aesthetically pleasing, easy to develop, and integrates well with our internal tools. I like the ability to build learner interaction with polls, forms, branching, and links. We use 7taps to support documentation and create microlearning training content.
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Kayla Bestor
Instructional Designer
Principle 4

Provide models and worked examples

Worked example and providing models involve step by step demonstration of how to perform a task or how to solve a problem. Rosenshine calls this “cognitive support”.

Models and worked examples can help clarify concepts and provide the much needed support for independent practice/application of the learned material.

How 7taps aligns with it

There are many ways to integrate worked examples within 7taps courses:

  • Use text or audio instructions;
  • Use videos;
  • Use AI characters to add a short video that can serve as a model.
7taps helps make our compliance training more sustainable. We create short scenario-based interactions to reinforce the key objectives.
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Cristina Pelli
Associate Training Specialist
Principle 5

Guide your learners with practice and review

For long-term learning to take place, new information must be reviewed. This requires time and practice and opportunities for recall and retrieval. Simply presenting new information isn’t enough, guiding your learners through a well-planned rehearsal to practice new knowledge is essential for long-term retention.

This rehearsal can take different forms, for example, asking questions or giving opportunities to learners to summarize the key points.

How 7taps aligns with it

7taps offers various ways to integrate guided practice. For example, you can use the quiz card option or the opportunity to submit responses to open-ended question using the ‘form’ card.

7taps is designed in a way that the learner feels that they are being guided through a learning experience and it does not feel overwhelming at all.

We're using 7taps as timely refreshers to ensure knowledge acquired is exercised. One of the main benefits is its asynchronous nature, making it possible for people to complete it when best for them.
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Maria Pujol
Learning & Development Partner

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Principle 6

Check for understanding

This is closely related to principle #3 (asking questions) and principle #4 (guided practice and review) with an additional focus on checking for understanding of the new incoming information and to ensure that there aren’t any misconceptions being acquired by the learners.

These knowledge checks are essential to ensure that the learners are building their background knowledge sufficiently and accurately.

How 7taps aligns with it

As mentioned previously, the microlearning nature of the 7taps platform makes it for content creators easy to check for learners’ understanding.

The platform offers three ways to do so – quiz card, form card and poll card. These three options can be used in various ways to embed zero- or low-stakes formative assessment (i.e., assessment for learning not of learning). Because of their low-stakes nature and simple design, learners don’t feel the stress that is often associated with any assessment. On the contrary, learners enjoy these quick formative checks before moving on to learning/acquiring new knowledge.

Our learners and stakeholders want quick and efficient training and something with a fast turnaround, these are all happening with 7taps. Plus it helps the learner in a way they are already used to.
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Ashley Stayskal
Manager of Learning Experience & Design
Principle 7

Obtain a high success rate

This is extremely important to provide ample opportunities for learners to achieve success. Success leads to self-efficacy, feeling of achievement and increased motivation to keep going.

Rosenshine uses the term “Mastery Learning” – it is a form of instruction where lessons are organized into short units and the goal is that all learners acquire mastery of the content before they process to the next step. This need of obtaining high success rates directly influences the gap that often exists between high achieving and low achieving learners. When everyone succeeds, learning becomes more effective.

How 7taps aligns with it

Once again, the option of breaking down content using 7taps provides optimal learning environment to learners. They can interact with the mini-courses as many times as they like until they achieve “mastery” of the content before moving on to the next piece.

Repeating a 7taps mini-course doesn’t take long and often doesn’t overwhelm the learners.

Everyone at the company is so busy there's very little time for training. 7taps allows me to slip in training that almost feels like entertainment. People enjoy the images and gifs so much they don't realize they're being taught something. And those images connect to the words and make people recall them a bit easier.
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Laura Coulter
Elearning Specialist
Principle 8

Provide scaffolds for challenging tasks

A scaffold is a temporary support that is used to assist a learner. It involves modeling the steps to solve a problem in the form of cue cards or checklists or short videos.

There are various different ways to provide scaffolds to your learners. These scaffolds have been called “cognitive apprenticeship”. Learners learn strategies and content (and often times background knowledge) during this apprenticeship that can enable them to do the task at hand or solve a problem.

How 7taps aligns with it

7taps is well suited to be integrated in one’s learning journey as a perfect scaffold or “cognitive apprenticeship” via several mini-courses that can be easily removed once the learner has reached mastery to be able to perform the task for which information was being disseminated.

The diversity of tools offered by 7taps allow content developers to create scaffolds that suit unique one’s learning needs. It helps that the platform is easy to use, in case, the content creator has to customize these scaffolds.

7taps is great for reviewing information that has already been learned and for covering topics that don't require facilitation or a full eLearning course. It's also super useful for covering multistep tasks that aren't completed super frequently, to walk a user through each step one card at a time.
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Linda Ray House
Sr. Instructional Designer
Principle 9


Learners need time to practice in order for skills and new knowledge to become automatic. This is true for all ages. Typically, a guided practice should be followed by an independent practice.

One thing to remember is that the independent practice should involve the same material as the guided practice so that the learners know what they need to practice avoiding unnecessary cognitive overload. Research has shown that, in addition to independent practice, cooperative/collaborative learning can also support long-term retention. Cooperative learning offers an opportunity for learners to receive feedback from peers, which promotes both engagement and learning. It can also provide opportunities to address learning gaps among learners.

How 7taps aligns with it

When developing a 7taps mini-course, you can use the ‘link’ card to hyperlink to external as well as internal (within 7taps) resources.

These resources could include opportunities for independent and/or collaborative activities in the form of assessments, submitting responses to open-ended questions, sharing of ideas etc. The options of branching between different 7taps courses can also provide opportunities for practice.

7taps is invaluable for creating just-in-time learning for our people that supports our culture and business. We use it in many ways… from drawing our people’s attention to resources that support their continued growth to enhancing learning transfer after workshops.
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Melanie Wassmuth
Instructional Designer
Principle 10

Engage learners in frequent review

Learners need extensive practice in order to develop well-connected networks of ideas (or schemas) in their long-term memory. This happens when learners have opportunities for frequent review via retrieval practice.

This act of retrieval helps with retention and makes it easier for them to recall knowledge when needed. “The more one rehearses and reviews information, the stronger the interconnections between the materials become” (Rosenshine, 2012). This is how domain-specific expertise is developed.

How 7taps aligns with it

The micro nature of 7taps mini-courses is ideal to integrate frequent reviews within one’s learning journey.

The platform also offers content developers ways to monitor these reviews to be able to identify any obvious knowledge gaps. The more a learner reviews the content, the more automatic information recall becomes for them. This further establishes connections between new knowledge and prior knowledge.

7taps keeps the learner at the forefront of their product with a simple, streamlined interface that is designed to be able to push quality content out the door quickly. Learners get well-balanced, interactive, and engaging content on their phone, tablet, or desktop in just a few minutes.
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Barry Knack
Sr. Enablement Program Manager


Rosenshine’s principles of instruction may have been developed with a focus on classroom-based learning and teaching, but their application goes way beyond the classroom, technology-enhanced online learning being no exception.

As a researcher, educator and content developer, I find these principles offer a solid foundation to much of the work I do. Since I often integrate 7taps when I create content for a wide range of learner groups, I wanted to pick the lens of these golden principles and see how well 7taps faired. In my opinion, 7taps is well designed to integrate these guiding instructional principles very well. The design of 7taps, its ease of use for both content developers and the learners, and the tools it carries provide many ways to be able to design instruction that aligns with human cognitive architecture.

This act of retrieval helps with retention and makes it easier for them to recall knowledge when needed. “The more one rehearses and reviews information, the stronger the interconnections between the materials become” (Rosenshine, 2012). This is how domain-specific expertise is developed.

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