Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Ruth Clark: eLearning and the Science of Instruction: A 10 Year Retrospection

These are my live blogged notes from December 13, 2011: eLearning Guild Thought Leaders Webinar

Ruth Clark and Richard Mayer’s book e-Learning and the Science of Instruction: Proven Guidelines for Consumers and Designers of Multimedia Learning – now in its 3rd edition.

An expert in evidence-based elearning – author of seven books!


Let’s reflect back on the three editions of the book – what’s stayed the same and what’s changed?

Technology has changed!  Smart phone…search functions…facebook/web 2.0…gaming…the cloud.

And what’s happened in your own life – new job? new family? losses? gains?

Some surprises:

  • Virtual classroom – SLOW adoption
  • Online collaborative learning? We’ve seen the tech expand; what about the research?
  • Multimedia principles – basically the same
  • Growth in scenario based

In 2001 = about 11% of delivery media was elearning; in 2009 to 36% – gradual decrease in instructor led.

Goal of books – help practitioners apply evidence based elearning guidelines to design, dev, eval of multimedia learning ---> to help us move toward professionalization!

So are we an emerging profession? Are we still order takers? Or are we growing to become business partners?  (64% of audience said – we’ve become more professional in the last 20 years as a profession, but not much…)

First half of book based on Mayer’s multimedia research…

Section 3 (of book):

Summary of Mayer’s research (use of graphics and words) – multimedia, contiguity, modality, redundancy, coherence, personalization, segmentation pretraining.

Working memory – we can hold five chunks (used to say seven, plus or minus 2).  The cognitive model of working memory hasn’t changed that much.

But now we’re talking more about cognitive load.  (didn’t talk about that at all in the first edition.)  Credit to Sweller.

3 Forms of Cognitive Load:

  • intrinsic (the complexity of your content) – listen to the audio, translate it, construct a response and pronounce it quickly – the number of cognitive activities you have to perform.  When you have greater intrinsic load, you have to attend more to cognitive load.
  • extrinsic – extraneous load put onto learner by poor design.
  • germane load – the good stuff.  When people are learning we want people to be engaged with their working memory.

Your job – to manage intrinsic load (esp when high), keep extraneous load low, and to maximize germane load…(you’ll see more about this in the 3rd edition of the book).

Eye Tracking Research


Right now just have a few experiments in this area…

Section 3 (of book): Use of Key Methods

Evidence around practice, collaboration and learner control in learner.

Research on examples and worked examples  -- where was learning better? (A) example, practice, example, practice…OR B) example, practice, practice, practice) – does more practice lead to better learning? –> worked examples/A) was less training time and better outcomes/fewer mistakes on the test.  Combining worked examples with practice gives you better and faster learning).

Better learning transfer when you distribute practice.

Worked examples lead to better learning outcomes for novices…having worked examples for the expert actually depressed their learning outcomes (the expertise reversal effect).  Some instructional methods for beginning learners may degrade learning for experts. (it might disrupt the experts own working models).  So as we worked with experts, we should FADE back worked examples…

Some problems with worked examples:  learners can gloss over them.  Need to make worked examples  more engaging.  Add a self-explanation question. Add a question that forces the learner to process and think deeply.  (e.g., – in a scenario program now ask “why is it important to verbally recap the doctor’s questions about contra indicators?”…)

Tests can be work-related projects that demonstrate quality.

The research on online collaboration

Evidence mostly around collaboration IN THE CLASSROOM vs. in an elearning setting.  Need more research in this area.

Kirchner (2011 study) – collaboration in problem solving – notes that collaboration takes cognitive resources.  Do you benefit enough? If the problems are relatively easy, then learning better in a solo setting.  If problems more complex, then collab will lead to better learning.


Three approaches to design.

  • Receptive – little overt engagement (as in this webinar) – documentaries, college lectures, books – these are mostly briefings.
  • Directive – traditionally used for procedures – have to do each step exactly in order.  Used for software training.  Instruct, Demo, Practice, Feedback.
  • Guided discovery – emerging in last five years – some people call this immersive learning.

Poll question – which architecture is predominant in your org’s elearning? (directive = Captivate; low percentage of guided discovery…) 42 % receptive, 45% directive, 4% guided, 8% we use all three equally.

A Look at Guided Discovery

(She’s showing a demo of guided discovery of a car repair – virtual shop that you have to go into and diagnose).

Good for critical thinking and problem solving. 

“Experience packaged in a box.” – simulations.

Does it work?  Research on part-task (more traditional directive learning) vs. whole task training (guided discovery) – better transfer with the whole task test….(e.g., how to use Excel to create a budget – to determine how well they could apply what they’ve learned in a different setting.)

Discovery vs. guided discovery: Mayer said “discovery learning does not work” – meta-analysis of discovery approach – much better learning from direct instruction or guided discovery.  Pure discovery = let them explore and go here and there.  It doesn’t work as well – learner’s need guidance.

Scaffolding – this means we need to do better scaffolding. We need to provide guidance and structure.

Start with simple cases and move to more demanding ones.

Case 1: demo; Case 2: let the learner complete part; Case 3: have learner do more; Case 4 – have learner do them all.

Ruth Clark new book – the essentials of scenario based elearning – she’s finishing it up now – will include scaffolding in Scenario Based eLearning (SBEL) – coming out next year.

Monday, December 05, 2011

Kineo eLearning Design Webinar December 8

Learning_Models The most impressive learning designs draw from best principles of adult learning theory, take a card from marketing and advertising, and ultimately result in effective programs that inform, instruct, and perhaps even change behaviours.

But how do you get there?…

Come join our webinar this Thursday, December 8 at 11:00 eastern and download the free Learning Models guide.