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Effective Learning Design

eLearning Incorporating Universal Design Principles
by

Ivan Ivanov

on 16 October 2012

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Transcript of Effective Learning Design

Effective design is based on incorporating several important principles Contiguity Principle Personalization
Principle Contiguity Principle Modality Principle Coherence Principle Redundancy Principle Multimedia Principle Modality Principle Redundancy Principle Segmenting
and Pre-training
Principle Multimedia
Principle Personalization
Principle The Modality Principle of elearning recommends "that you put words in spoken form rather than printed form whenever the graphic (animation, video, or series of static frames) is the focus of the words and both are presented simultaneously" (Clark & Mayer, 2007). An examples is provided below. The video explains and demonstrates the modality principle. The modality principle is related to two principles of universal design.
The first one is the Depth of Processing principle. It states that "information that is analyzed deeply is better recalled than information that is analyzed superficially" (Lidwell, Holden, & Butler, 2003). When the modality principle is followed, there are more cognitive resources available to the learner, which allows for deeper processing of info. Also, processing information via multiple channels allows for creating different links to it in the brain, which makes it more stable in memory (easily retrievable).
The second one is the Hierarchy of Needs principle. It states that basic needs of the user such as functionality and reliability have to be satisfied first before meeting higher-order needs (eg., creativity). Thus, the design of a presentation has to be functional (using dual modality for optimal comprehension) before it is anything else (aesthetic, providing choice of preferred medium/learning style, or provoking creativity). The Coherence Principle This principle recommends that you avoid gratuitous and unnecessary text, visuals, and sound that may hurt learning by distracting learners from key points, priming irrelevant background knowledge, or disrupting the learners organization of the material. It follows the maxim, "less is more." Below on the left is a video describing the principle and providing an example. On the right is a snapshot from a PP presentation that violates the principle by placing unnecessary visual information on the background. The Coherence Principle is related to several principles of universal design. The first is the cognitive dissonance principle, which states that people tend to seek consistency among their attitudes, thoughts, and beliefs (Lidwell, Holden, & Butler, 2003). Using interesting information that is not related to the main ideas can create cognitive dissonance for the learner by causing her to wonder what the important part of the lesson is or to prime the wrong background knowledge and make subsequent information consistent with it.

Another principle of universal design that is related to Coherence is Signal-to-noise ratio. It refers to the ratio of relevant to irrelevant information in a display. The goal of good design is to have high signal-to-noise ratio. High coherence can be viewed as high signal-to-noise ration, where irrelevant and distracting information is minimized. In the context of the example, unnecessary imagery serves as a noise that distracts the learner. The Contiguity Principle states that "on-screen words should be placed near the parts of the on-screen graphics to which they refer" (Clark & Mayer, 2007). In the example below you can see that the word "apple" is placed next to the image of apples. Placing text and image next to each other (rather than vertically) facilitates their integration in the brain. The Contiguity Principle is related to several principles of universal design. The first is the Alignment principle, which states that elements should be placed in a way that their edges line up along common rows or columns, or their bodies along a common center. In the snapshot on the right, images are aligned with text to form easily perceived rows. You can see that in order to be aligned, objects need to be contiguous. The second principle of universal design related to Contiguity is Proximity. According to it, "elements that are close together are perceived to be more related than elements that are farther apart" (Lidwell, Holden, & Butler, 2003). Placing text and image horizontally in congruity makes them appear proximal in space, which increases their perceived relatedness. Segmenting and
Pretraining Principle The Segmenting Principle of e-learning recommends that you divide an e-lesson or presentation to manageable segments in order to reduce the complexity of the material and to ease comprehension. Pre-training means providing a novice learner with relevant definitions and terms before starting an e-lesson. The Segmenting and Pre-training Principle is related to several principles of universal design. The first is the Performance Load principle, which states that "the greater the effort to accomplish a task, the less likely the task will be accomplished successfully" (Lidwell, Holden, & Butler, 2003). Segmenting information reduces the performance load.
Pre-training is related to the principle called Advance Organizer. Both have a similar function in that they prime background knowledge and provide helpful initial information on the topic. In the example on the left, the presenter demonstrates the principle by showing how to divide a course into modules, modules into lessons, etc. This way information is chunked and more easily comprehended and remembered by the learner. According to this principle, it is detrimental for learning to have redundant onscreen text presented at the same time as onscreen graphics and narration in an e-learning course. Both text and graphics are processed by the visual/pictorial channel in the brain so having the redundant text can overload our limited cognitive resources. An example is provided below. This principle recommends that online presentations and e-learning courses include words and relevant graphics, rather than words alone. It is based on the fact that the brain processes information via two different channels (visual and verbal). Learning is optimized when both channels are used and information from them is integrated in long term memory. The short video below provides an explanation and an example of this principle. The Multimedia Principle is related to several principles of universal design, two of which are Depth of Processing and Mental Model.
In regards of the former, multimedia allows for deeper processing based on the interaction between modes, the creation of multiple links in memory, and better mental organization of the material.
In terms of the latter, having a picture/graphic and text makes it easier to create a clear mental representation and activate the appropriate mental model for interpreting information. The Redundancy Principle is related to two principles of universal design.

The first one is Depth of Processing. It states that "information that is analyzed deeply is better recalled than information that is analyzed superficially" (Lidwell, Holden, & Butler, 2003). Redundancy overloads the visual channel of the learner and decreases her cognitive capacity so that she has no sufficient resources to process the information deeply.

The second one is Interference. Interference occurs "when two or more perceptual or cognitive processes are in conflict" (Lidwell, Holden, & Butler, 2003). It is the cognitive process underlying redundancy - attending to text interferes with attending to graphics. According to Clark and Mayer (2007), using conversational style, pedagogical agents, and visible authors has a psychological advantage that induces the learner to engage with the computer as a social conversational partner, and thus learn more effectively. Below are a short video explaining and exemplifying the principle (on the left) and an example of an pedagogical agent. Such agents make learners feel like in a conversational interaction with the computer, which increases their engagement with learning. The Contiguity Principle is related to several principles of universal design. The first is the Readability principle, which refers to "the degree to which prose can be understood, based on the complexity of words and sentences" (Lidwell, Holden, & Butler, 2003). Using the principle of readability, active voice and common words such as 'you' in particular, makes a presentation/lesson more personalized. The opposite is also true, a more personalized text is more readable.
The second one is Face-ism ratio, which refers to "the ratio of face to body in an image that influences the way the person in the image is perceived." Manipulating an pedagogical agents' face-ism ratio can affect learners' focus of attention. Principles of Productive e-Learning Based on Cognitive Research
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