E-learning theory is a combination of cognitive science principles, setting forward the goal to learn multimedia effectively by means of electronic educational technology. As Clark and Mayer state, many learners tend to understand e-learning as simply an “instruction delivered on a digital device” (7). However, this notion includes a whole variety of concepts that require a deeper study to operate with a sufficient amount of data (Peña-Ayala et al. 135). Normally, the concepts/principles are divided into the following:
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This concept is also called the multimedia effect. When using this principle, a learner operates with three variables: audio, visuals, and text. The combination of any two out of the list usually gives better results than the usage of just one or all three at once.
The learning process flows faster when a visual component is accompanied by an audio component instead of a text. Exceptions can be made if the material is used as a reference if a learner is not a native speaker, or when printed words are the only option.
According to this concept, the irrelevant material (music, video, graphics, etc.) needs to be removed entirely not to distract a reader from the main content. The exception can be made if a learner is already familiar with the material.
The way information is presented on a screen often defines how it will be accepted by a student (Brown and Charlier 41). Naturally, learning gives better results when relevant pieces of information are placed next to each other. Thus, placing feedbacks close to answers is the only right way to arrange the study process.
As derived from the name, the segmenting principle presupposes dividing learning material into segments or smaller fragments. Reading smaller passages helps learners to consume the material more efficiently and get more profound knowledge of a topic. Using this principle in different educational settings allows for learning practice to be improved significantly (Cox 97). Thus, a learner acquires a unique opportunity to ingest the information slide by slide and click the ‘continue’ button only after he or she has learned the previous material. Ingesting a new material step by step gives more opportunities for practicing and, according to Rennie and Morrison, “has potentially profound implications for education” (4).
Learner Control Principle
In the meantime, the learner control principle involves immediate monitoring of learning through the use of a specially programmed interface. This way a study process looks more like a game rather than work. The effect of gamification has proven to present better performance and give higher results than the rest of the concepts (De-Marcos et al. 84). The possibility to pause an application at one’s own will creates unprecedented opportunities for faster material digestion. Moreover, the ability to select information and set priorities allows students to focus on the most relevant parts.
A less formal and more conversational tone usually stimulates faster material digestion. Thus, a polite form of content presentation may appear to be a preferable option for beginning learners since it assists in better topic comprehension.
The main idea of this principle is to introduce key concepts before the start of a lesson. This way, students get prepared for material ingestion and dispose themselves to receive a set volume of information.
The concept involves using signals, such as circles, arrows, highlighting, pauses in speech, etc. This way, a student always knows what aspects to pay attention to.
The concept presupposes using a whole variety of tools (video, audio, graphics, and text) to create redundancy. However, the effectiveness of the method is rather questionable due to the usage of excessive information, which may turn out inappropriate for particular groups of learners.
Instructional methods introduced to make a study process of low prior knowledge learners more convenient might be of no use for high prior knowledge learners. This statement serves as evidence for the fact that a thorough approach to concepts selection is required in order to arrange a learning process in the most efficient way.
Brown, Kenneth G., and Steven D. Charlier. “An Integrative Model of E-learning Use: Leveraging Theory to Understand and Increase Usage.” Human Resource Management Review, vol. 23, no. 1, 2013, pp. 37-49.
Clark, Ruth C., and Richard E. Mayer. E-learning and the Science of Instruction: Proven Guidelines for Consumers and Designers of Multimedia Learning. John Wiley & Sons, 2016.
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Cox, Margaret J. “Formal to Informal Learning with IT: Research Challenges and Issues for E‐learning.” Journal of Computer Assisted Learning, vol. 29, no. 1, 2013, pp. 85-105.
De-Marcos, Luis, et al. “An Empirical Study Comparing Gamification and Social Networking on E-learning.” Computers & Education, vol. 75, 2014, pp. 82-91.
Peña-Ayala, Alejandro, et al. “Activity Theory as a Framework for Building Adaptive E-learning Systems: A Case to Provide Empirical Evidence.” Computers in Human Behavior, vol. 30, 2014, pp. 131-145.
Rennie, Frank, and Tara Morrison. E-learning and Social Networking Handbook: Resources for Higher Education. Routledge, 2013.