E-Learning Design Principles and Methods 2016

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Course Details

Course number: 05-823

Semester: Fall 2015

Carnegie Mellon University

Class times

9:00 to 10:20 Tuesday & Thursday


Gates Hillman Center (GHC) Room 5222


Professor Ken Koedinger

Office: 3601 Newell-Simon Hall, Phone: 412-268-7667

Email: Koedinger@cmu.edu, Office hours by appointment

Course Prerequisites

To enroll you must either be in the Masters of Educational Technology and Applied Learning Science (METALS) or get the permission of the instructor.

Textbook and Readings

"E-Learning and the Science of Instruction: 3rd edition" by Ruth Colvin Clark and Richard E. Mayer.

Other readings will be assigned in class. See below.

Class URLs

Syllabus and useful links: learnlab.org/research/wiki/index.php/E-learning_Design_Principles_2014

For quizzes and reading reports go www.cmu.edu/blackboard.


This course is about e-learning design principles, the evidence and theory behind them, and how to apply these principles to develop effective educational technologies. It is organized around the book "e-Learning and the Science of Instruction: Proven Guidelines for Consumers and Designers of Multimedia Learning" by Clark & Mayer with further readings drawn from cognitive science, educational psychology, and human-computer interaction. You will learn design principles 1) for combining words, audio, and graphics in multimedia instruction, 2) for combining examples, explanations, practice and feedback in online support for learning by doing, and 3) for balancing learner versus system control and supporting student metacognition. You will read about the experiments that support these design principles, see examples of how to design such experiments, and practice applying the principles in your own educational technology design project.

Flipped Homework: Reading Quizzes and Reading Reports

You will have "flipped homework", a variation on the flipped classroom idea you might have heard of. Flipped homework is an assignment before a relevant class meeting rather than after it. It helps you to check your understanding of what you read, to practice to enhance your memory (we will talk about the "testing effect" in class), and to get a better sense of what you don't know so you are prepared to ask questions in class. It also helps instructors focus the class discussion to better avoid belaboring known points and pursue student needs and interests.

Before some class sessions, you will asked to do a quiz associated with the assigned book chapter. The quizzes will be on the Blackboard site (www.cmu.edu/blackboard, the course is listed as "Special Topics in HCI"). Before other class sessions, you will be asked to write "reading reports". We will use the discussion board on Blackboard. You should complete assigned quizzes or reading reports before 9am on the day of class.

For reading reports, the discussion forum post will usually direct you as to how to reply. If not otherwise directed, you should make two posts on the readings. Your two posts may be original or in response to another post (one of both is nice).

  • Original posts should contain one or more of the following:
    • something you learned from the reading or slides
    • a question you have about the reading or slides or about the topic in general
    • a connection with something you learned or did previously in this or another course, or in other professional work or research
  • Replies should be an on-topic, relevant response, clarification, or further comment on another student’s post.

In general, please come to class prepared to ask questions and give answers.

Laptop Policy

Given that class discussion is a major part of the course, laptops, cell phones, and smart phones are not to be used in class during Lecture days. Failure to listen to this will result in a reduction in your participation grade. During testing days (marked as such on the schedule), however, you will need your laptop.

Students have the option of using a laptop during presentations only if they are doing so to take notes and submit those notes to the full class for example on blackboard. To facilitate note taking during Lecture days, lecture slide handouts may be provided, if requested.

If interested in what educational research says about laptop use in class, or multi-tasking more generally, you might look at (available on the course BlackBoard):

  • Fried, C. B. (2008). In-class laptop use and its effects on student learning. Computers & Education, 50, 906–914.
  • Kirschner, P. A., & Merriënboer, J. J. V. (2013). Do learners really know best? Urban legends in education. Educational Psychologist, 48(3), 169–183. doi:10.1080/00461520.2013.80439
  • Kraushaar, J. M., & Novak, D. C. (2010). Examining the affects [sic] of student multitasking with laptops during the lecture. Journal of Information Systems Education, 21(2), 241-251.
  • Wood, E., Zivcakova, L., Gentile, P., Archer, K., De Pasquale, D., & Nosko, A. (2012). Examining the impact of off-task multi-tasking with technology on real-time classroom learning. Computers & Education, 58(1), 365-374. doi:10.1016/j.compedu.2011.08.02


  • 35% Final Project Project assignment
    • Six parts of final project
    • Final project submission
  • 5% E-Learning examples assignment
  • 15% Midterm exam
  • 15% Pre-class quizzes & reading reports
  • 15% Final Exam
  • 15% Class participation, including reading summary presentations

Class Schedule in Brief

  • E-Learning Introduction 9-1- to 9-3
    • Sept 1 Overview; Examples Assignment; Project; 1.E-learning (The "1." indicates this is a chapter in the Clark & Mayer book)
    • Sept 3 2.How People Learn; KLI Framework Events; Project topic brainstorming
  • Instructional Goals and Assessment 9-8 to 9-17
    • Sept 8 Determining instructional goals; Bloom's taxonomy; KLI KCs; Practice on goal setting
    • Sept 10 Standards & Assessment Frameworks; Evidence-based design; Practice assessment writing
    • Sept 15 Goal-setting Interviews: Structured Interviews, Contextual Inquiry; Practice interviewing
    • Sept 17 Online assessment; Practice e-assessment implementation
  • Cognitive Task Analysis (CTA) 9-22 to 10-1
    • Sept 22 Rational & Empirical CTA via Think Alouds
    • Sept 24 Quantitative Cognitive Task Analysis: Difficulty Factors Assessment
    • Sept 29 CTA to improve model building & instructional design
    • Oct 1 Quantitative CTA via Data Mining
  • Multimedia Principles 9-24 to 10-22
    • Oct 6 3.Evidence-based practice; KLI Learning & Instructional Events;
    • Oct 8 4.Multimedia Principle; 5.Contiguity Principle; Practice applying
    • Oct 13 6.Modality Principle & 7.Redundancy Principle; Practice applying
    • Oct 15 8.Coherence Principle & 9.Personalization Principle; Practice applying
    • Oct 20 Flex topic; Midterm review
    • Oct 22 Midterm exam Bring laptop to class
  • Learning By Doing Principles 10-27 to 11-24
    • Oct 27 KLI & Selecting appropriate instructional principles
    • Oct 29 10.Segmenting and Pretraining; 11.Leveraging Examples in E-Learning
    • Nov 3 12.Does Practice Make Perfect; 14.Who’s in Control?
    • Nov 5 15.E-Learning to Build Problem Solving Skill; 16.Simulations and Games
    • Nov 10 17.Applying the Guidelines; KLI Review
    • Nov 12 [Guest topic: Options CSCL, Cognitive Mastery, Hint Factory, CTAT?] (need substitute for this class)
    • Nov 17 Peer review of instructional design
    • Nov 19 In vivo experimentation; A/B Testing
    • Nov 24 Flex topic; Presentation & Report Preparation
    • Nov 26 Thanksgiving, no class
  • Final & Project Presentations 12-1 to 12-10
    • Dec 1 Final Exam Bring laptop to class
    • Dec 3 Project Presentations
    • Dec 8 Project Presentations
    • Dec 10 Project Presentations
  • Final Project due Dec 18
  • If needed: Final Exam Make-up - Thurs Dec 17, 1-4pm in GHC 5222

Class Schedule with Readings and Assignments

NOTE: This section is "living" -- parts will evolve as I get a better sense of your needs.

E-Learning Introduction 9-1 to 9-3
  • 9-1 Course Objectives & Course Project; The boom in e-learning!
    • Reading (from course book): 1.e-Learning: Promise & Pitfalls (28 pages). This chapter is here (click to get) but order the book right now!
      • Pre-class quiz: Answer questions for Chpt1 Quiz on Blackboard
      • Slides for this chapter are here.
    • Class activity: Introduce your background and interests in e-learning
    • Assignment: Examples assignment is due next Mon, Sept 7. Please submit on blackboard.
    • Assignment: Project step 1 is due in 16 days on Thursday, 9-17
    • For next time:
      • BRING two screen shots of an e-learning example to next class
      • Review project step 1 and come with a preliminary project idea.
      • a) Do the readings & b) associated flipped homework (See next date for reading assignment)
  • 9-3 How People Learn; Evidence-based practice; KLI Framework events
    • Read Ch2.How Do People Learn from E-Courses (20 pages) You can get this chapter here this last time!
    • Read sections 1-2 of KLI Framework paper (we will discuss other sections later)
      • Do the quiz for the reading Quiz 2.
    • Class activity: Promises & pitfalls review of e-learning examples
      • BRING a print-out of an e-learning example to class
    • Class activity: Project idea discussion
      • Come prepared with a preliminary project idea
    • For next time:
      • a) Do the readings & b) associated flipped homework
Instructional Goals and Cognitive Task Analysis 9-8 to 9-15
  • 9-8 Determining instructional goals; Structured Interviews; Contextual Inquiry
    • Class activity: Review Project ideas and step 1 write-up requirements; consider assessment tasks
    • Reading: Feldon paper
      • Do the quizzes on the Feldon reading.
  • 9-10 In-class practice on goal setting & interviewing; assessment writing
Cognitive Task Analysis and Think Alouds 9-17 to 9-22
  • 9-17 In-class practice on assessment design & implementation
    • DUE: Project step P1: Domain, Context & Initial Resources
    • Assignment: Project step P2 is due on Oct 1
    • Reading: Lovett paper and Gomoll paper
      • Do the quizzes on the Lovett and Gomoll papers.
  • 9-22 Discovering learning objectives (KCs) and Rational Cognitive Task Analysis
    • Reading: Zhu & Simon paper
    • Optional Reading: Working Minds: A practitioner's Guide to Cognitive Task Analysis, Ch 1 and Ch 2
      • Do the quizzes on the reading.
Multimedia Principles 9-24 to 10-22
  • 9-24 KLI Learning & Instructional Events; 4.Multimedia Principle; 5.Contiguity Principle
    • Reading: 4.Multi-media Principle (24 pages)
    • Reading: 5.Contiguity Principle (24 pages)
    • Optional Reading: Working Minds: A practitioner's Guide to Cognitive Task Analysis, Ch 1 and Ch 2
      • Do the quizzes for the readings.
  • 9-29 Empirical Cognitive Task Analysis: Difficulty Factors Assessment (DFA)
    • Reading: Heffernan paper
      • Do the quizzes for the reading.
    • Come with an attempt at a model of one of your task solutions and, ideally, with an initial draft of project step 2.
  • 10-1 DFA (con't)
    • Due: P2: Benchmark Tasks & Rational Cognitive Task Analysis
    • Finish discussion for DFA and Heffernan from last time
    • Introduce step P3
  • 10-6 Modality Principle & Redundancy Principle
    • Reading: 6.Modality Principle (18 pages)
    • Reading: 7.Redundancy Principle (18 pages)
      • Do the quizzes for the readings.
    • Class activity: Work on P3. How will you collect data?
  • 10-13 CTA via Data Mining
  • 10-15 Coherence Principle & Personalization Principle
    • Reading: 8.Coherence Principle (28 pages)
    • Reading: 9.Personalization Principle (26 pages)
    • Due: P3: Empirical Cognitive Task Analysis & Cognitive Model of Instructional Goals
      • Do quizzes for Chapter 8
    • Optional Practice quiz for Chapter 9 (not included in total quiz points)
  • 10-20 Midterm Review
Learning By Doing Principles 10-27 to 11-24
  • 10-27 Segmenting and Pretraining
    • Reading: 10.Segmenting and Pretraining (18 pages)
    • Do quizzes for Chapter 10
  • 10-29 KLI & Selecting appropriate instructional principles
    • Reading: KLI sections 6-7
    • Assignment: P3a and 3b are due 11-12
    • Do quizzes for reading.
  • 11-3 Leveraging Examples in E-Learning
    • Reading: 11.Leveraging Examples in E-Learning (28 pages)
    • Do quizzes for Chapter 11
  • 11-5 Does Practice Make Perfect
    • Reading: 12.Does Practice Make Perfect (28 pages)
    • Do quizzes for Chapter 12
  • 11-10
  • 11-12 Who’s in Control?
    • Reading: 14.Who’s in Control? (30 pages)
    • Do quizzes for Chapter 14
  • 11-17 E-Learning to Build Problem Solving Skill
    • Reading: 15.E-Learning to Build Problem Solving Skill (30 pages)
    • Do quizzes for Chapter 15
    • DUE: P3a: Assessment & Initial Instructional Design and P3b: Instructional Design Prototyping & Testing
    • Assignment: P4 is due 12-1
  • 11-19 Simulations and Games
    • Reading: 16.Simulations and Games (32 pages)
    • Do quizzes for Chapter 16
  • 11-24 Applying the Guidelines
    • Reading: 17.Applying the Guidelines (24 pages)
    • Do quizzes for Chapter 17
  • 11-26 Thanksgiving, no class
Project Presentations 12-1 to 12-10
  • 12-1 Project Presentations
  • 12-3 Project Presentations
    • Faculty course evaluation
    • DUE: P4: Research Design
    • Assignment: Final Project is due 12-18. It should include the reflection statement (see the project assignment handout).
  • 12-8 Project Presentations
  • 12-10 Project Presentations
Final Project Due on 12-18
  • 12-18 Project Due
Final Exam Date - Thurs December 17, 1-4pm in GHC5222 -- Bring laptop to exam