OIRE | A Learning Design Framework

Learning Design

OIRE | A Learning Design Framework

What is OIRE

OIRE is an acronym for Orient-Immerse-Reflect-Extend. It is a structured method of designing learning content that focuses on generating rich learner to learner interaction, reflection and transfer of learning to the real world. It can be used to design both classroom and online learning.

Here is a quick overview to the OIRE model

Note: In this article, we will use Conflict Management as a topic to illustrate each step in the OIRE framework.

Stage 1: Orient

The objective of Orient is to bring the attention of the participants to here and now i.e. the learning environment and direct their attention to the learning objectives. The Orient must be striking enough to grab the learner’s attention and at the same time it should also introduce the learning objectives.

In this sense the goal of the Orient stage is similar to the Receiving Phenomena stage from Bloom’s taxonomy of the Affective domain.


For example, in a program on Conflict Management a good Orient can be the replay of a video from a popular film showing a conflict situation. Stories and videos make great Orient sessions because of their power to grab attention.

Stage 2: Immerse

This is where learners experience first-hand the variables that are critical to the learning of the phenomena. The Immerse usually takes the shape of an activity – case discussion, serious game, or a business simulation. The Immerse attempts to create an environment in which learners can actively explore the various dimensions and real life attributes that are relevant to the learning objective. True immersion happens as a result of game play and learner to learner interaction that ensues. Most Immerse sessions that we design are full of energy, play, movement, thinking, debating and problem solving and are a lot of fun!

Unlike the real world, in an Immerse, learners get the opportunity to try different things, makes mistakes, interact and observe. The activities are designed to present the right amount of complexity to the learner and engage all the senses to provide a whole body and mind experience. A good Immerse leads learners to confront their own beliefs, values, assumptions and behaviour.


Continuing with our theme of Conflict Management, a case that explores a complex conflict situation between two persons/departments can be used for the Immerse stage. The learners are divided in two teams, each playing the role of one party. The teams are expected to interact using any medium of communication with an objective that the conflict must be resolved within 3 rounds of communication. External constraints and rules can be placed to make the case more interesting and the interaction more lively. For example, teams can be asked to rate each others ability to communicate effectively thus forcing them to arrive at a  win-win deal. The whole activity may also be video recorded for use in the Reflect stage.

Note: The tool that you chose for an Immerse will depend on your objective. For example, while case studies are good tools to understand concepts, they may not be be the best choice if the objective requires application of concepts. A business simulation on the other hand allows learners to try different options and experience the relation between various variables thus allowing learners to apply and practice learned concepts.

Stage 3: Reflect

This is the stage in which learners step out of the learning activity (the Immerse) and reflect on what happened. Reflect is a stage in which learners engage in metacognitive thinking and led by Socratic questioning by the facilitator, discuss why they behaved in a certain manner and how changes in their choices/actions could have lead to different outcomes.

The role of the facilitator, in this stage, is to ask the correct probing questions prepared as a result of close observation of behaviour and interactions during the Immerse activity.

The facilitator probes by asking reflective questions like – Why did you do this? Would you have done anything different? What did you experience? Questioning and reflection leads learners to challenge their own assumptions, values and beliefs.


For the Immerse activity on the Conflict Management situation mentioned in the previous paragraph, some of the probing questions can be:

  • Why did you choose a particular medium of communication? Do you think it was the best choice and why?
  • Did your communication receive the reaction you expected, why and why not?
  • For which medium of communication was the reaction of the other team closest to your expectation?
  • What techniques worked best in resolving this conflict?
  • How was your body language while you were having a one-on-one discussion?
Stage 4: Extend

This step is critical for adequate and proper transfer of learning to the real world. Since, it is in the transfer stage that learners experience barriers to implementing the learning, it’s a good idea to begin the learning transfer process in the classroom itself. According to us this is also the best stage to present learning content and guidance since the learners are already in problem solving and implementation mode.

An extend sessions involves discussion and gaining commitment on how the learning can be used in the organizational context and in day-to-day life. Learners also create personal tools for transfer like checklists, notes and To Do lists at this stage.


For our Conflict Management objective in an Extend session a facilitator could:

  • Ask learners to identify one person they would want to resolve conflict with in real life.
  • Draft their communication strategy using the conflict management techniques they have learnt.
  • Make the learners call up or email the person to set up a time for discussion.

Apart from this, learners can also create a personal checklist for managing conflicts at the workplace. They can carry the  checklist back to their work as a job support aid.

Where is OIRE most suitable?

Although the OIRE framework can be used for a variety of learning objectives, it is best used in the following situations:

  • When the learning objectives are in the Affective domain of the Bloom’s Taxonomy. The affective domain (Krathwohl, Bloom, Masia, 1973) includes the manner in which we deal with things emotionally, such as feelings, values, appreciation, enthusiasms, motivations, and attitudes.
  • When the learning objectives are in the Analysis and Evaluations stages of the Bloom’s Taxonomy of the Cognitive Domain. The cognitive domain (Bloom, 1956) involves knowledge and the development of intellectual skills.
  • When the learning/training environment is a synchronous/live event. However, innovative use of technology and tools can make the framework useful even for designing asynchronous learning events.
  • When you have a at least 10-15 participants and not more than 30 participants. Number of participants is a constraint purely because if you have too less, the interactions would be weak and if you have too many the interaction will be manageable.

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