E-Learning Design Principles and Methods 2017

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Course Details

Course number: 05-823

Semester: Fall 2017

Carnegie Mellon University

Class times

9:00 to 10:20 Tuesday & Thursday


Gates Hillman Center (GHC) Room 4301


Professor Ken Koedinger

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

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

Teaching assistant: Mimi McLaughlin Email: mimim@cs.cmu.edu

Administrative assistant: Jo Bodnar Email: jobodnar@cs.cmu.edu

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: 4th edition" by Ruth Colvin Clark and Richard E. Mayer.

Other readings will be assigned in class. See below.

Class URLs

For the syllabus go to http://www.learnlab.org/research/wiki/index.php/E-Learning_Design_Principles_and_Methods_2017

For quizzes and reading reports go to 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 8am on the day of class. Quizzes can be taken as many times as you want and your score will be the last attempt before 8am.

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 (updated 8/30/16)

Given that class discussion is a major part of the course, you should only use laptops, cell phones, and smart phones when you are directed to do so or within the common note taking Google page that I will provide. Deviation form this policy will result in a reduction in your participation grade. You will often need or want a laptop or smart device. You will definitely need one during testing days (marked as such on the schedule).

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 (Submit project steps preferably as a Google document (provide access by sharing with the instructor and TA), but a Word document is OK. Do not submit a pdf.)
    • 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 8-29 to 8-31
    • Aug 29 Overview and e-learning Promises & Pitfalls (OLI Module 1); Examples Assignment; Project; 1.E-learning
    • Aug 31 2.How People Learn; Instructional complexity (OLI Module 2)
  • Backward Design: Goals and Assessment 9-5 to 9-14
    • Sept 5 Determining instructional goals; KLI KCs; Bloom's taxonomy (OLI Module 3)
    • Sept 7 Refining goals and Introduction to Designing Assessments (OLI Module 4)
    • Sept 12 Why data toward goal setting improves design; Contextual Inquiry principles (OLI Module 5)
    • Sept 14 Online assessment design and implementation (OLI Module 6)
  • Cognitive Task Analysis (CTA) 9-20 to 9-28
    • Sept 19 Empirical CTA: Structured Interviews (OLI Module 7)
    • Sept 21 Think Alouds & Theoretical CTA (OLI Module 8)
    • Sept 26 Quantitative Cognitive Task Analysis: Difficulty Factors Assessment (OLI Module 9)
    • Sept 28 Quantitative CTA via Data Mining (OLI Module 10)
  • Learning By Doing Principles 10-3 to 10-24
    • Oct 3 3.Evidence-based practice; KLI Learning & Instructional Events (OLI Module 11)
    • Oct 5 Practice, practice, practice (OLI Module 12)
    • Oct 10 12.Does Practice Make Perfect; 14.Who’s in Control? (OLI Module 13)
    • Oct 12 15.E-Learning to Build Problem Solving Skill; 16.Simulations and Games (OLI Module 14)
    • Oct 17 10.Segmenting and Pretraining; 11.Leveraging Examples in E-Learning (OLI Module 15)
    • Oct 19 KLI & Selecting appropriate instructional principles; Midterm review
    • Oct 24 Midterm exam Bring laptop to class
  • Multimedia Principles 10-26 to 11-23
    • Oct 26 [Guest topic: Options CSCL, Cognitive Mastery, Hint Factory, CTAT?]
    • Oct 31
    • Nov 2 4.Multimedia Principle; 5.Contiguity Principle; Practice applying (OLI Module 16)
    • Nov 7 6.Modality Principle & 7.Redundancy Principle; Practice applying (OLI Module 17)
    • Nov 9 8.Coherence Principle & 9.Personalization Principle; Practice applying (OLI Module 18)
  • E-learning course design & evaluation 11-14 to 11-16
    • Nov 14 17.Applying the Guidelines; KLI Review (OLI Module 19)
    • Nov 16 In vivo experimentation; A/B Testing (OLI Module 20)
    • Nov 21 Flex topic; Presentation & Report Preparation
    • Nov 23 Thanksgiving, no class
  • Final & Project Presentations 11-28 to 12-7
    • Nov 28 Project Presentations
    • Nov 30 Project Presentations
    • Dec 5 Project Presentations
    • Dec 7 Final Exam Bring laptop to class
  • Final Project due Dec 12
  • If needed: Final Exam Make-up -TBD

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 8-29 to 8-31
  • 8-29 Course Objectives & Course Project; The boom in e-learning!
    • Reading (from course book): 1.e-Learning: Promise & Pitfalls (20 pages). This chapter is here (click to get) but order the book right now!
      • Pre-class quiz: Answer questions for Chpt1 Quiz on Blackboard Try to do this quiz before Tues class but it must be completed before Thurs class.
      • Slides for this chapter are here.
    • Class activity: Introduce your background and interests in e-learning
    • Assignment: Examples assignment is due next Mon, Sept 4. Please submit on blackboard.
    • Assignment: Project step 1 is due in 16 days on Thursday, 9-14
    • 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)
  • 8-31 How People Learn; Instructional complexities; Project topic brainstorming
    • Read Ch2. How Do People Learn from E-Courses (20 pages) You can get the chapter here this last time! Please order the book now if you have not!
    • Read Koedinger et al. (2013) paper Instructional complexities
      • Do the quiz for Chapter 2 (Quiz 2).
      • On Blackboard do a "Discussion Board" post for Instructional complexities paper within the forum titled "Instructional Complexity Reading Posts for 8-31"
    • Class activity: Project idea discussion
      • Be ready to discuss some of your preliminary project ideas -- enter these in Google Doc of class notes
    • For next time:
      • a) Do the readings & b) associated flipped homework
Instructional Goals and Assessment 9-5 to 9-14
  • 9-5 Determining instructional goals; KLI KCs; Bloom's taxonomy
    • Reading: Carver paper
    • Reading: KLI sections 1-3 KLI Framework paper (we will discuss other sections later)
    • Additional Reading: Bloom's taxonomy revised
      • Do Discussion Board post on Carver paper.
      • Do quiz for the KLI reading.
    • Class activity: Review Project ideas and step 1 write-up requirements
    • Class activity: Review of e-learning examples
      • BRING a print-out of your e-learning examples to class
      • We will find examples of promises & pitfalls, knowledge component types, etc.
  • 9-7 Writing assessments to meet goals
  • 9-14 Online assessment; Practice e-assessment implementation
    • Reading: Read the documentation for two online assessment authoring tools of your choosing
      • Discussion board posts on pros and cons of the tools you read about
    • Class activity: BRING YOUR LAPTOP and be prepared to use an online assessment development tool
    • DUE: P1: Context & Initial Resources (Submit all project steps as a shared google doc or in Blackboard as a Word doc. Do not submit a pdf.)
    • Assignment: P2 is due Sept 28
Cognitive Task Analysis (CTA) 9-19 to 9-28
  • 9-26 Quantitative Cognitive Task Analysis: Difficulty Factors Assessment
    • Reading: Heffernan paper -- Slides
    • Come with an initial draft of project step 2.
      • Do quiz for Heffernan paper.
  • 9-28 Quantitative CTA via Data Mining; CTA to improve instructional design
    • Class activity: Peer review of P2
    • Reading: e-learning data to improvement (10 pages)
      • Do quiz for e-learning data to improvement paper
    • DUE: P2: Identifying Goals & Online Assessment Creation
    • Assignment: P3 is due Oct 12
Learning By Doing Principles 10-3 to 10-24
  • 10-3 Evidence-based practice; KLI Learning & Instructional Events
    • Reading: Clark & Mayer book Ch3.Evidence-based practice (18 pages) Slides
    • Reading: KLI paper sections 4-5 (12 pages)
      • Do quizzes for the readings.
  • 10-10 Does Practice Make Perfect; Who’s in Control?
    • Reading: 12.Does Practice Make Perfect (28 pages) Slides
    • Reading: 14.Who’s in Control? (30 pages) Slides
      • Do quizzes for the readings.
  • 10-12 E-Learning to Build Problem Solving Skill; Simulations and Games
    • Reading: 15.E-Learning to Build Problem Solving Skill (30 pages) Slides
    • Reading: 16.Simulations and Games (32 pages) Slides
      • Do quizzes for the readings.
    • DUE: P3: Cognitive Task Analysis & Cognitive Model
    • Assignment: P4 is due Oct 31
  • 10-17 Segmenting and Pretraining; Leveraging Examples in E-Learning
    • Reading: 10.Segmenting and Pretraining (18 pages) Slides
    • Reading: 11.Leveraging Examples in E-Learning (28 pages) Slides
      • Do quizzes for the readings.
  • 10-24 Midterm exam Bring laptop to class
Multimedia Principles 10-26 to 11-7
  • 10-26 Optional topic
    • E-Learning in Industry
    • Work on project
    • DUE Mon, 10/30 by 12 noon: P4: Initial Instructional Design
    • Assignment: P5 is due 11-16
  • 10-31 Multimedia Principle; Contiguity Principle; Practice applying
    • Reading: 4.Multimedia Principle (24 pages) Slides
    • Reading: 5.Contiguity Principle (24 pages) Slides
      • Do quizzes for the readings.
    • Optional readings & slides about the multimedia principle:
      • Systematic Thinking Fostered by Illustrations in Scientific Text Paper Slides
      • Multimedia-Supported Metaphors for Meaning Making in Mathematics Paper Slides
    • Optional readings & slides about the Contiguity principle:
      • Cognitive Principles of Multimedia Learning: The Role of Modality and Contiguity Paper Slides
      • Why Some Material is Difficult to Learn Paper Slides
  • 11-2 Modality Principle & Redundancy Principle; Practice applying
    • Reading: 6.Modality Principle (18 pages) Slides
    • Reading: 7.Redundancy Principle (18 pages) Slides
      • Do quizzes for the readings.
  • 11-7 Coherence Principle & Personalization Principle; Practice applying
    • Reading: 8.Coherence Principle (28 pages) Slides
    • Reading: 9.Personalization Principle (26 pages) Slides
      • Do quizzes for the readings.
Putting it together & evaluation 11-9 to 11-23
  • 11-9 Applying the Guidelines; KLI & Selecting appropriate instructional principles
    • Reading: 17.Applying the Guidelines (24 pages) Slides
    • Reading: KLI sections 6-7 Slides
      • Do posts for the reading.
    • Time permitting: Peer review of instructional design
  • 11-14 In vivo experimentation; A/B Testing
    • DUE: P5: Instructional Design Prototyping & Testing
    • Assignment: P6 is due 11-28
  • 11-16 Finish discussion of experimentation
  • 11-21 Flex topic; Presentation & Report Preparation
  • 11-23 Thanksgiving, no class
Final & Project Presentations 11-28 to 12-7
  • 11-28 Project Presentations
    • DUE: P6: Experimental Design
    • Assignment: Final Project is due 12-12. It should include the reflection statement (see the project assignment handout).
  • 11-30 Project Presentations
  • 12-5 Project Presentations
  • 12-7 Final Exam Bring laptop to class
    • If needed: Final Exam Make-up - TBD
Final Project Due 12-12