eLearning concepts, skills and standards that are important to employers and that help instructional designers create better learning experiences.

Learning theories & instructional design processes

  • ADDIE: Analysis, Design, Develop, Implement, Evaluation – the traditional, 5-step waterfall-style method of designing eLearning courses. There are dozens of variations on this theme. Some say it is DADDIE – D for Define. Attempts made to integrate this approach with Agile design (see below).
    1. Analysis: Identify learning problem, goals/solutions, audience needs and existing knowledge. Evaluate learning environment, delivery options and timeline.
    2. Design: Specify detailed learning objectives and create storyboards/prototypes. Determine the graphic design, user interface and content.
    3. Development: Produce the learning materials designed in the previous phase.
    4. Implementation: Present the materials to learners.
    5. Evaluation: Evaluate effectiveness of course materials through specific tests and requests for feedback from users.
  • Agile design (in eLearning): Iterative, incremental approach to developing learning tools – like agile software design, based on constant feedback, evaluation, adaptation and improvement. See list of articles about agile design in eLearning – this one is particularly good. Contrasts with waterfall-style approaches like ADDIE, although now many people say that Agile design should be used to improve ADDIE.
  • Backward design: Method of designing eLearning experiences where you decide the results first, then work backwards to the tests and lesson plans you’ll need to achieve them. Like a road map where you decide the destination first and then figure out the best way to get there. Contrasts with traditional curriculum design where you create the list of content to be taught without properly considering the end goal.
  • Bloom’s taxonomy: Three types of learning: cognitive (knowledge and intellect); affective (emotions); phsycomotor (skills)
  • Content: Five categories of content in learning materials:
    • facts (specific data)
    • concepts (ideas, theories)
    • processes (how something works)
    • procedures (how to do something, step by step)
    • principles (guidelines – what should and should not be done)
  • Cognitive load theory: We can only process so much information at one time. So keep e-learning short and simple to “chunked” to stop us getting overloaded.
  • Gagné’s nine steps of instruction
    1. Gain attention
    2. Inform learner of objective
    3. Stimulate recall of prior knowledge
    4. Present the material
    5. Provide guidance for learning
    6. Elicit performance
    7. Provide feedback
    8. Assess performance
    9. Enhance retention and transfer
  • Gagné’s nine steps of planning instruction
    1. Identify the types of learning outcomes
    2. Identify the internal conditions or processes the learner must have to achieve the outcomes.
    3. Identify the external conditions or instruction needed to achieve the outcomes.
    4. Specify the learning context.
    5. Record the characteristics of the learners.
    6. Select the media for instruction.
    7. Plan to motivate the learners.
    8. Test the instruction with learners in the form of formative evaluation.
    9. After the instruction has been used, summative evaluation is used the judge the effectiveness of the instruction.
  • Gap analysis: What steps need to be taken to achieve a particular end goal? How do we get from state A to state B – what do we need to bridge the gap? Useful to identify which skills a person or team needs in order to do the job assigned. eLearning can help bridge those gaps.
  • Instructional system design (ISD): A process for creating learning tools.
  • Learner-centered design: Puts the learner/student at the forefront of the design process – focus is on the needs, growth, diversity and motivation of students. Contrasts with traditional view of the teacher as the active participant who imparts knowledge to the passive student. Similar to the principles of user-centered design (put the user’s needs first) but for eLearning.
  • Visual literacy: The ability to understand (and create) meaningful visual messages, e.g. charts, graphs, sketches.
  • See this helpful website listing and explaining a whole range of learning theories.

Types of e-learning and online learning

  • Badges:
  • Blended learning: a.ka. hybrid learning. See post on blended learning and download a PDF of the US government’s Evaluation of Evidence-Based Practices in Online Learning: A Meta-Analysis and Review of Online Learning Studies.
  • eLearning: a.k.a. e-learning, technology-enhanced learning. Learning experiences that are either online or have some advanced technology or interactive features. Many variations.
  • Flipped classroom: Traditional teaching is where a student learns a theory in class and practices it for homework. Flip teaching is where a student learns the theory before class (via a video lesson, for example) and practices it during class. See Wikipedia.
  • Instructional design: The process of creating eLearning experiences.
  • Learning Management System (LMS) a.k.a. Course Management System (CMS), Learning Management Systems (LMS), or Virtual Learning Environment (VLE). Software for delivering learning experiences. Examples include Moodle, BlackBoard, CourseMill, Saba, iSpring Online.
  • mLearning: Mobile learning – learning experiences delivered on smartphones, tablets, applications. Interesting argument by Joshua Kim that we should design eLearning experiences for mobiles first, and apply them to desktop/laptops later. I totally agree.
  • Massive Open Online Course (MOOC) Wikipedia: “A massive open online course (MOOC) is an online course aiming at large-scale interactive participation and open access via the web. In addition to traditional course materials such as videos, readings, and problem sets, MOOCs provide interactive user forums that help build a community for the students, professors, and TAs.”
  • Open Educational Resources (OER): Wikipedia: “Open Educational Resources (OER) are freely accessible, usually openly licensed documents and media that are useful for teaching, learning, educational, assessment and research purposes. ” Also called “open content.” Examples include MIT Open Courseware (the first educational institution to offer OER in 2002); Open Learning Initiative (OLI, Carnegie Mellon University); OpenLearn Works (previously LabSpace – Open University, UK).

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