E-learning insights

I’ve started yet another book on e-learning: E-learning and the Science of Instruction by Ruth Colvin Clark and Richard E. Mayer (the older edition which I just picked up for cheap). Most of the specific suggestions/guidelines come from studies of learning. Some interesting material. Among the insights in the first few chapters:

  • 2 different types of e-learning: inform programs (providing information) and and perform programs (building skills). For perform goals, there are procedural (step by step kind of things; “near transfer”) and principal based (tasks with more than one correct approach or outcome; “far transfer”). Obviously, the type of instruction has to match the kind of programs/goals.
  • Most studies of e-learning have showed no difference in learning. That is because instructional methods lead to learning, rather than medium or technology is the key thing for learning. This doesn’t mean that e-learning does not have benefits, but that we need to think about it better.
  • One of the pitfalls to e-learning is overloading cognitive processes (too much information, graphics, music, etc.)
  • While graphics can increase learning effectiveness, it adds cost and time to producing the instruction, so it is essential that the graphics are relevant (not merely decorative) and used properly.

Much more in later chapters.


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