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Praise for the Second Edition of e-Learning and the Science of Instruction
"Their first edition was a landmark work. This new edition is even better. Too many guidelines for instructional design are based on opinion or an attempt to be consistent with some philosophical position. It is most refreshing when one of the world's most respected learning researchers teams with the premier translator of scientific findings to produce a set of e-learning guidelines based on empirical research findings. Both novice and experienced instructional designers will observe more effective and efficient learning from their instructional products if they implement the guidelines in this book."
—M. David Merrill, Visiting Professor, Florida State University
"As a scholar-practitioner, e-Learning and the Science of Instruction has been an invaluable resource. Clark and Mayer have a knack for placing theory into applicable and practical examples of instructionally sound e-learning. In the last four years, I have used this book as a reference for several e-learning courses and as a manager of several instructional designers. Quite frankly, our field needs more evidenced-based examples of instructionally sound e-learning and less of the 'wow' factor!"
?—Gina Ann Richter, President, GO-Learning Inc.
"This book is required reading in my graduate-level Instructional Media Design course. As an instructor, I appreciate the sound empirical basis for the book's e-learning guidelines. The students, on the other hand, are grateful for the clear, concise language used to describe the guidelines, which makes their application straightforward."
—Robert K. Atkinson, Assistant Professor, Educational Technology, Arizona State University
In this chapter we define e-learning as training delivered on a computer (including CD-ROM, Internet, or intranet) that is designed to support individual learning or organizational performance goals. We include e-courses developed primarily to provide information (inform courses) as well as those designed to build specific job-related skills (perform courses). Instructional methods that support rather than defeat human learning processes are an essential ingredient to all good e-learning courseware. The best methods to use will depend on the goals of the training (for example, to inform or to perform); the learner's related skills; and various environmental factors, including technological, cultural, and pragmatic constraints. We distinguish among e-learning courseware that reflect three views of learning: information acquisition (receptive), response-strengthening (directive), and knowledge construction (guided discovery).
The e-Learning Bandwagon
Will the new educational dot-coms that have proliferated over the past few years revolutionize business and government training? In 1999, Jack Welch, former chairman of General Electric, declared the Internet to be the single-most importantevent in the U.S. economy since the Industrial Revolution. John Chambers, Cisco Systems CEO, states that the two great equalizers in life are the Internet and education. Sensing the economic potential of marrying education and the Internet, a variety of sites have recently sprung up, offering training in everything from end-user computer skills to medical ethics. Universities also have rushed to tap into the distance learning market. Almost 90 percent of all universities with more than 10,000 students offer some form of distance learning-nearly all of which use the Internet (Svetcov, 2000). According to Gerhard Casper, outgoing president of Stanford University: "How Internet learning will shake out, I really do not know. But I am utterly convinced that over the next ten years we will see shifts from in-residence learning to on-line learning" (p. 284, Muller, 2000). In addition to Internet and university sites, corporate and government organizations that spend large amounts on employee training have developed proprietary computer-delivered courseware as a potential cost-effective alternative to classroom training.
Are the proliferating cyber courses harbingers of a new age in learning or just another overstatement of the expectations that have surrounded nearly everything associated with the World Wide Web? In spite of all the hype, since 1999, the amount of training delivered by computer in business and industry has decreased. In the year 2001, approximately 11 percent of all training was delivered via computer (including the Internet, intranets, and CD-ROM)-down from 15 percent reported in 1999 (Galvin, 2001). It remains to be seen whether in times of economic pressure and travel uncertainty the potential cost savings of desktop learning will reverse this trend.
Annual investments in training are high and growing. Every year between fifty and sixty billion dollars are spent on training workers in corporate and governmental organizations in the United States (Galvin, 2001). And these figures don't include the most expensive element of training, the salary time and lost opportunity costs of those taking training. In spite of this investment, during boom times there have been shortages of trained technical staff. Does e-learning offer a potential opportunity to cost-effectively build the skills required for the knowledge-based economy of this century? Part of the answer will depend on the quality of the instruction delivered in the e-learning products you are designing, building, or selecting today.
What Is e-Learning?
We define e-learning as instruction delivered on a computer by way of CD-ROM, Internet, or intranet with the following features:
Includes content relevant to the learning objective
Uses instructional methods such as examples and practice to help learning
Uses media elements such as words and pictures to deliver the content and methods
Builds new knowledge and skills linked to individual learning goals or to improved organizational performance
As you can see, this definition has several elements concerning the what, how, and why of e-learning.
What. e-Learning courses include both content (that is, information) and instructional methods (that is, techniques) that help people learn the content.
How. e-Learning courses are delivered via computer using words in the form of spoken or printed text and pictures such as illustrations, photos, animation, or video.
Why. e-Learning courses are intended to help learners reach personal learning objectives or perform their jobs in ways that improve the bottom line goals of the organization.
In short, the "e" in e-learning refers to the "how"-the course is digitized so it can be stored in electronic form. The "learning" in e-learning refers to the "what"-the course includes content and ways to help people learn it-and the "why"-that the purpose is to help individuals achieve educational goals or to help organizations build skills related to improved job performance.
Our definition indicates that the goal of e-learning is to build job-transferable knowledge and skills linked to organizational performance or to help individuals achieve personal learning goals. Although the guidelines we present throughout the book do apply to lessons designed for educational or general interest learning goals, our emphasis is on instructional programs that are built or purchased to build job-specific skills.
e-Learning Development Process
e-Learning that yields a return on investment is developed following a systematic process summarized in Figure 1.1. Since there are many good books on e-learning development, we provide only a brief overview here.
All e-learning projects should begin with a performance analysis to determine a) that training will help meet important organizational goals by filling a gap in knowledge and skills and b) that e-learning is the best delivery solution. Often training is requested to solve organizational problems that are not caused by a lack of knowledge and skills. In these cases, the root cause(s) of the problems should be defined and an expensive solution like training should be avoided. If training is needed, then the analysis should consider the tradeoffs among various delivery alternatives such as classroom, on-the-job, e-learning, or a blend of several of these.
Defining e-Learning Content
Following the performance analysis, a team begins the design of the course by defining the content needed to perform the job or achieve the educational objective. In order for training to pay off with improved job performance, an e-learning development effort must start with an analysis of the job tasks and the knowledge needed to perform these tasks. The e-learning development team observes and interviews people who are expert at a job to define the job skills and knowledge. For courseware developed for broader educational purposes, rather than a job analysis, the development team conducts a content analysis to define the major topics and related subtopics to be included. Based on either the job or content analysis, the team categorizes the content of an e-lesson into facts, concepts, processes, procedures, and principles. Table 1.1 defines these content types, which have been described in detail by Ruth Clark (1999). For example, the screen in Figure 1.2 is taken from e-learning designed to teach Dreamweaver, a software product used to build Web pages. The content being illustrated is a procedure. This screen is providing a simulation practice of the steps the user must take to effectively use the software.
At the completion of the job or content analysis, the design team will create a course blueprint that includes outlines and learning objectives. They will then begin to write the detailed course script and to select specific instructional methods to support learning.
Defining the Instructional Methods and Media Elements
Instructional methods are the techniques that support the learning of the content. Instructional methods include techniques such as examples, practice exercises, and feedback. In our example screen shown in Figure 1.2 the instructional methods include a simulation practice with feedback. We define media elements as the audio and visual techniques used to present words and illustrations. Media elements include text, narration, music, still graphics, photographs, and animation. In the Dreamweaver course, audio narration presents the words of the demonstration and an animated graphic presents the actions of the demonstration. One of our fundamental tenets is that to be effective, instructional methods and the media elements that deliver them must help guide learners to effectively process and assimilate new knowledge and skills.
How Delivery Platforms Influence Instructional Methods and Media Elements
e-Learning, as we use the term, includes training delivered via CD-ROM, intranets, and the Internet. Approximately forty percent of computer-delivered training uses CD-ROM, while twenty-two percent uses the Internet and thirty percent uses intranets (Galvin, 2001). Your choice of delivery platform can influence which instructional methods and media elements can be included in the courseware. For example, limitations in bandwidth may limit the use of memory-intensive media elements (such as audio) for Internet delivery. In contrast, CD-ROM provides considerably more memory than the Internet but will be more difficult to update and disseminate to users.
Two Types of e-Learning Goals: Inform and Perform
As summarized in Table 1.2, the guidelines in this book apply to e-learning that is designed to inform as well as e-learning that is designed to improve specific job performance. We classify lessons that are designed primarily to build awareness or provide information as inform programs. A new employee orientation lesson that reviews the company history and describes the company organization is an example of an inform program. The information presented is job relevant but there are no specific expectations of new skills to be acquired. The primary goal is to share information. In contrast, we classify programs designed to build specific skills as perform programs. Some examples of perform e-learning are lessons on software use, marking and labeling of hazardous materials, evaluating a bank loan applicant, and use of quality control tools. Many e-courses contain both inform and perform learning objectives, while some are designed for inform only or perform only.
Near Versus Far Transfer Perform Goals
We distinguish between two types of perform goals: 1) procedural, also known as near transfer, and 2) principle-based, also known as far transfer. Procedural lessons such as the Dreamweaver example in Figure 1.2 are designed to teach step-by-step tasks, which are performed more or less the same way each time. Most computer-skills training falls into this category. This type of training is called near transfer because the steps learned in the training are identical or very similar to the steps required in the job environment. Thus the transfer from training to application is near. More than half of all e-learning is near transfer, devoted to teaching computer skills for end-users and for information technology professionals.
Principle-based lessons, also called far transfer, are designed to teach tasks that do not have only one correct approach or outcome. Thus the situations presented in the training may not be exactly the same as the situations that occur on the job. These tasks require the worker to adapt guidelines to various job situations. Typically some element of problem-solving is involved. The worker always has to use judgment in performing these tasks since there is no one right approach for all situations. Far transfer lessons include just about all soft-skill training, supervision and management courses, and sales skills. Figure 1.3 illustrates a screen from a principle-based course on selling banking products. The screen shows customer reactions to various statements of the salesperson. To apply these new skills to the job, the bank employees must adapt guidelines presented in this training to various situations they will encounter with real customers. Since the worker will always have to use judgment in applying training guidelines to the job, we say that the transfer from training to job is far.
Is e-Learning Better? Media Comparison Research
Contrary to the impression left by recent reports on the use and benefits of e-learning, much of what we are seeing under the e-learning label is not new. Training delivered on a computer, known as computer-based training or CBT, has been around for more than thirty years. Early examples delivered over mainframe computers were primarily text on a screen with interspersed questions-electronic versions of behaviorist psychologist B. F. Skinner's teaching machine. The computer program evaluated answers to the multiple-choice questions and prewritten feedback was matched to the learner responses. The main application of these early e-lessons was training in the use of mainframe computer systems. As technology has evolved, acquiring greater capability to deliver true multimedia, the courseware has become more elaborate in terms of realistic graphics, audio, color, animation, and complex simulations. But as you will see, greater complexity of media does not necessarily ensure more learning.
Each new wave of instructional delivery technology (starting with film in the 1920s) spawned optimistic predictions of massive improvements in learning. For example, in 1947 the U.S. Army conducted one of the first media comparisons with the hypothesis that film teaches better than classroom instructors (see box for details). Yet after fifty years of research attempting to demonstrate that the latest media are better, the outcomes have not supported that hypothesis.
With few exceptions, the hundreds of media comparison studies have shown no differences in learning (Clark, 1994; Dillon and Gabbard, 1998). As in the Army experiment summarized in the box, the lessons delivered by various media were similar in the instructional methods they used. Therefore, the learning was the same whether the lesson was read in a book or on a computer screen. What we have learned from all the media comparison research is that it's not the medium, but rather the instructional methods that cause learning.
Excerpted from e-Learning and the Science of Instruction by Ruth Colvin Clark Richard E. Mayer Excerpted by permission.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.
1. e-Learning: Promise and Pitfalls.
The e-Learning Bandwagon.
What Is e-Learning?.
Self-Study vs. Virtual Classroom e-Learning.
e-Learning Development Process.
Two Types of e-Learning Goals: Inform and Perform.
Is e-Learning Better? Media Comparison Research.
What Makes e-Learning Unique?
e-Learning: The Pitfalls.
What Is Good e-Courseware?
Learning in e-Learning.
2. How Do People Learn from e-Courses.
How Do People Learn?
How Do e-Lessons Affect Human Learning?
What Is Good Research?
How Can You Identify Relevant Research?
How Do You Interpret Research Statistics?
What We Don't Know About Learning.
3. Applying the Multimedia Principle: Use Words and Graphics, Rather Than Words Alone.
Do Visuals Make a Difference?
Multimedia Principle: Include Both Words and Graphics.
Some Ways to Use Graphics to Promote Learning.
Psychological Reasons for the Multimedia Principle.
Evidence for Using Words and Pictures.
The Multimedia Principle Works Best for Novices.
Should You Change Static Illustrations into Animations?
What We Don't Know About Visuals.
4. Applying the Contiguity Principle: Align Words to Corresponding Graphics.
Contiguity Principle 1: Place Printed Words Near Corresponding Graphics.
Contiguity Principle 2: Synchronize Spoken Words with Corresponding Graphics.
Psychological Reasons for the Contiguity Principle.
Evidence for Presenting Printed Words Near Corresponding Graphics.
Evidence for Presenting Spoken Words at the Same Time as Corresponding Graphics.
What We Don't Know About Contingency.
5. Applying the Modality Principle: Present Words as Audio Narration, Rather Than On-Screen Text.
Modality Principle: Present Words as Speech Rather Than On-Screen Text.
Limitations to the Modality Principle.
Psychological Reasons for the Modality Principle.
Evidence for Using Spoken Rather Than Printed Text.
When the Modality Principle Applies.
What We Don't Know About Modality.
6. Applying the Redundancy Principle: Explain Visuals with Words in Audio or Text: Not Both.
Redundancy Principle 1: Do Not Add On-Screen Text to Narrated Graphics.
Psychological Reasons for the Redundancy Principle.
Evidence for Omitting Redundant On-Screen Text.
Redundancy Principle 2: Consider Adding On-Screen Text to Narration in Special Situations.
Psychological Reasons for Exceptions to Redundancy Principle.
Evidence for Including Redundant On-Screen Text.
What We Don't Know About Redundancy.
7. Applying the Coherence Principle: Adding Interesting Material Can Hurt Learning.
Coherence Principle 1: Avoid e-Lessons with Extraneous Audio.
Psychological Reasons to Avoid Extraneous Audio in e-Learning.
Evidence for Omitting Extraneous Audio.
Coherence Principle 2: Avoid e-Lessons with Extraneous Graphics.
Psychological Reasons to Avoid Extraneous Graphics in e-Learning.
Evidence for Omitting Extraneous Graphics.
Coherence Principle 3: Avoid e-Lessons with Extraneous Words.
Psychological Reasons to Avoid Extraneous Words in e-Learning.
Evidence for Omitting Extraneous Words Added for Interest.
Evidence for Omitting Extraneous Words Added to Expand on Key Ideas.
Evidence for Omitting Extraneous Words Added for Technical Depth.
What We Don't Know About Coherence.
8. Applying the Personalization Principle: Use Conversational Style and Virtual Coaches.
Personalization Principle 1: Use Conversational Style Rather Than Formal Style.
Psychological Reasons for the Personalization Principle.
Evidence for Using Conversational Style.
Promote Personalization Through Voice Quality.
Promote Personalization Through Polite Speech.
Personalization Principle 2: Use Effective On-Screen Coaches to Promote Learning.
Personalization Principle 3: Make the Author Visible to Promote Learning.
Psychological Reasons for Using a Visible Author.
Evidence for the Visible Author.
What We Don't Know About Personalization.
9. Applying the Segmenting and Pretraining Principles: Managing Complexity by Breaking a Lesson into Parts.
Segmenting Principle: Break a Continuous Lesson into Bite-Size Segments.
Psychological Reasons for the Segmenting Principle.
Evidence for Breaking a Continuous Lesson into Bite-Size Chunks.
Pretraining Principle: Ensure that Learners Know the Names and Characteristics of Key Concepts.
Psychological Reasons for the Pretraining Principle.
Evidence for Providing Pretraining in Key Concepts.
What We Don't Know About Segmenting and Pretraining.
10. Leveraging Examples in e-Learning.
Worked Examples: Fuel for Learning.
How Worked Examples Work.
How to Leverage Worked Examples: Overview.
Worked Example Principle 1: Transition from Worked Examples to Problems via Fading.
Worked Example Principle 2: Promote Self-Explanations of Worked-Out Steps.
Worked Examples Principle 3: Supplement Worked Examples with Explanations.
Worked Examples Principle 4: Apply the Multimedia Principles to Examples.
Worked Examples Principle 5: Support Learning Transfer.
Design Guidelines for Near-Transfer Learning.
Design Guidelines for Far-Transfer Learning.
What We Don't Know About Worked Examples.
11. Does Practice Make Perfect?
What Is Practice in e-Learning?
The Paradox of Practice.
How to Leverage Practice: Overview.
Practice Principle 1: Mirror the Job.
Practice Principle 2: Provide Explanatory Feedback.
Practice Principle 3: Adapt Amount and Placement of Practice to Job Performance Requirements.
Practice Principle 4: Apply the Multimedia Principles.
Practice Principle 5: Transition from Examples to Practice Gradually.
What We Don't Know About Practice.
12. Learning Together Virtually.
What Is Computer-Supported Collaborative Learning (CSCL).
Factors That Make a Difference: Overview.
Is Problem-Solving Learning Better with CSCL or Solo?.
Virtual vs. Face-to-Face Group Decisions.
Software Representations to Support Collaborative Work.
Group Roles and Assignments in CSCL.
Team-Building Skills and CSCL Outcomes.
Collaborative Structures and CSCL.
Collaborative Group Structures.
CSCL: The Bottom line.
13. Who's in Control? Guidelines for e-Learning Navigation.
Learner Control Versus Program Control.
Do Learners Make Good Instructional Decisions?.
Four Principles for Learner Control: Overview.
Learner Control Principle 1: Give Experienced Learners Control.
Learner Control Principle 2: Make Important Instructional Events the Default.
Learner Control Principle 4: Give Pacing Control.
Navigational Guidelines for Learner Control.
What We Don't Know About Learner Control.
14. e-Learning to Build Thinking Skills.
What Are Thinking Skills?.
Can Creativity Be Trained?.
Building Critical-Thinking Skills in the Workforce: Overview.
Thinking Skills Principle 1: Use Job-Specific Cases.
Psychological Reasons for Job-Specific Training.
Evidence for Job-Specific Problem-Solving Training.
Thinking Skills Principle 2: Make Thinking Processes Explicit.
Thinking Skills Principle 3: Define Job-specific Problem-Solving Processes.
Teaching Thinking Skills: The Bottom Line.
What We Don't Know About Teaching Thinking Skills.
15. Simulations and Games in e-Learning.
The Case for Simulations and Games.
Do Simulations and Games Teach?
Balancing Motivation and Learning.
Games and Simulations Principle 1: Match Game Types to Learning Goals.
Games and Simulations Principle 2: Make Learning Essential to Progress.
Features that Lead to Learning.
Games and Simulations Principle 3: Build in Guidance.
Games and Simulations Principle 4: Promote Reflection on Correct Answers.
Games and Simulations Principle 5: Manage Complexity.
What We Don't Know About Games and Simulations.
16. Applying the Guidelines.
Applying Our Guidelines to Evaluate e-Courseware.
Asynchronous Samples One and Two: Design of Databases.
Synchronous Sample Three: Constructing Formulas in Excel.
Asynchronous Sample Four: Simulation Course for Commercial Bank Loan Analysis.
The Next Generation of e-Learning.
List of Tables and Figures.
About the Authors.
How to Use the CD-ROM.
Pfeiffer Publication Guide.
Posted January 24, 2008
Companies everywhere are embracing the idea of e-learning, but few seemingly have given much thought to the science behind the craft. Evidence-based research is largely conducted in academic settings and is often difficult to transfer, or even translate, to the business world. In this book, Clark & Mayer present much research and numerous easy-to-understand principles that can be used to develop e-learning courses and activities. They give multiple examples and counter-examples to remove much of the guesswork from the e-learning development process. This book is a must-read for anyone involved in the development or evaluation of e-learning products. Applying these principles will almost certainly result in much greater transfer of learning and return on investment.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
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