Donald Clark, a Non-Executive Director at Learning Pool, shares 10 brilliant design rules for e-learning. To read further blogs from Donald visit here.
Their e-Learning and the Science of Instruction (2003) covers seven design principles; multimedia, contiguity, modality, redundancy, coherence, personalisation, and practice opportunities.
Clear explanations are given about the risks of ignoring these principles – with support from worked examples and case study challenges.
It should be a compulsory text for online learning designers.
Media mix is not mind rich
Their precise studies have confirmed that our media mix (text, graphics, audio, animation, video) in online learning is often flawed, resulting in cognitive overload and dissonance.
Perhaps their greatest contribution has been in identifying redundancy as a serious problem in screen-based learning but they are known for research that produces clear practical recommendations that do not pander to those who think that media rich automatically means mind rich.
Less is more
If you were asked to sum up the psychology of learning in three words, it would be ‘less is more’, that’s also Mayer and Clark’s mantra.
In one study, Mayer, et al (1996) presented 600 pieces of scientific learning and found that briefer versions, which were concise, coherent and co-ordinated, resulted in far more effective learning.
They are precise in their recommendations,
‘There is a clear pattern in which the more words added to the core verbal explanation, the more poorly the student does in producing the core explanative idea units. These results are consistent with the idea that the additional words overload verbal working memory, drawing limited attentional and comprehension resources away from the core verbal explanation.’
The lesson with text is to cut it ‘til it bleeds! Bullet points, simple writing, highlighted keywords and short paragraphs are all useful screen writing techniques.
Avoid eye candy
They are critical of gratuitous graphics which are added to simply fill slots on pages of text. This is not uncommon in e-learning where designers simply take a noun within the text and slam in an associated image. This does nothing, according to Mayer and Clark, than add cognitive load and slow up learning.
Avoid ear candy
Text and graphics good
They argue that ‘text and simple relevant graphics’ can improve learning as they use separate cognitive channels. They are not absolutist on these rules, as text within graphics can be useful when explaining a process or in labeling.
Beware of text and animation
Beware of text and audio
Keep it close
Lessons for production