E-learning Design Principles 2013

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Course Details

More recent version at E-Learning Design Principles 2014

Course number & official name: 05-899 Special Topics in HCI: E-Learning Design Principles

Semester: Fall 2013

Carnegie Mellon University

Class times

1:30 to 2:50 Tuesday & Thursday


5222 Gates-Hillman Center (GHC)


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 instruction.

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_2013

For quizzes and reading reports go www.cmu.edu/blackboard. The course is listed as "Special Topics in HCI".


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 educational technology development.

Flipped Homework: Reading Reports and Reading Quizzes

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.


  • 55% Final Project
    • 45% Six parts of final project, 7.5% each
    • 10% Final project submission
  • 5% E-Learning examples assignment
  • 10% Peer review and feedback
  • 10% Pre-class quizzes & reading reports
  • 10% Chapter summary
  • 10% Class participation

Class Schedule in Brief

  • E-Learning Introduction 8-27 to 9-5
    • Aug 27 Overview; Examples Assignment; Project
    • Aug 29 1.E-learning; KLI Framework events (The "1." indicates this is a chapter in the Clark & Mayer book)
    • Sept 3 2.How People Learn; KLI KC's
    • Sept 5 3.Evidence-based practice; KLI Learning & Instructional Events
  • Instructional Goals and Cognitive Task Analysis 9-10 to 9-17
    • Sept 10 Determining instructional goals (tasks)
    • Sept 12 Guest lecture
    • Sept 17 Discovering learning objectives (KCs) & Rational Cognitive Task Analysis
  • Multimedia Principles and Cognitive Task Analysis 9-19 to 10-17
    • Sept 19 4.Multi-media Principle
    • Sept 24 Empirical Cognitive Task Analysis: Think aloud
    • Sept 26 5.Contiguity Principle
    • Oct 1 CTA: DFA & Model building
    • Oct 3 6.Modality Principle & 7.Redundancy Principle
    • Oct 8 CTA & Designing Assessments for Continual Improvement
    • Oct 10 Midterm review; Flex topic
    • Oct 15 8.Coherence Principle
    • Oct 17 9.Personalization Principle
  • Learning By Doing Principles 10-22 to 11-19
    • Oct 22 10.Segmenting and Pretraining
    • Oct 24 KLI & Selecting appropriate instructional principles
    • Oct 29 11.Leveraging Examples in E-Learning
    • Oct 31 12.Does Practice Make Perfect
    • Nov 5 13.Learning Together Virtually
    • Nov 7 14.Who’s in Control?
    • Nov 12 15.E-Learning to Build Problem Solving Skill
    • Nov 14 16.Simulations and Games
    • Nov 19 17.Applying the Guidelines
  • Project Presentations 11-21 to 12-5
    • Nov 21 Project Presentations
    • Nov 26 Project Presentations
    • Nov 28 Thanksgiving, no class
    • Dec 3 Project Presentations
    • Dec 5 Project Presentations
  • Final Project due Dec 13

Class Schedule with Readings and Assignments

NOTE: This section is "living" -- it will grow and change as the semester goes on.

E-Learning Introduction 8-27 to 9-5
  • 8-27 Overview, course project, your interests
    • Class activity: Discuss your interests in e-learning
    • Assignment: Examples (click to get) is due next Thursday, 9-5
      • BRING two screen shots of your first example to next class
    • Assignment: Project step 1 is due in 16 days on Thursday, 9-12
    • NOTE: See reading assignment for next time on next date.
  • 8-29 E-learning intro and KLI Framework events (Click here for slides)
    • Class activity: Promises & pitfalls review of e-learning examples
      • BRING two screen shots of your first example to this class
    • Reading (from course book): 1.e-Learning: Promise & Pitfalls (28 pages). You can get this chapter here this time but order the book right now!
      • Pre-class quiz: Answer questions for Chpt1 Quiz on Blackboard
    • For next time:
      • BRING two screen shots of your second example to this class
      • Review project step1 and come with a preliminary project idea. You might write some thoughts down, but you do not need to hand anything in.
      • a) Do the two readings, b) associated quiz & c) discussion board post on Blackboard
  • 9-3 How People Learn and KLI Knowledge Components (Slides)
    • Read Ch2.How Do People Learn from E-Courses (20 pages) You can get this chapter here this last time!
      • Pre-class quiz: Answer questions for Chpt2 Quiz on Blackboard (5 minutes)
    • Read KLI Framework paper sections 1-3 (18 pages)
      • Make one post to Blackboard -- see questions in Forum introduction
    • Class activity: KC type in e-learning examples
      • BRING two screen shots of your second example to this class.
    • Class activity: Project idea discussion
      • Come prepared with a preliminary project idea
  • 9-5 Evidence-based practice and KLI Learning & Instructional Events Media: (Slides)
    • Reading: 3.Evidence-based practice (18 pages)
      • Pre-class quiz: Answer questions for Chpt3 Quiz on Blackboard
    • Reading: KLI sect 4-5 (12 pages)
      • Make one post to Blackboard -- see questions in Forum introduction
    • Class activity: Principles present in e-learning examples
    • DUE: Examples assignment is due at beginning of class. Please submit on blackboard.
Instructional Goals and Cognitive Task Analysis 9-10 to 9-17
  • 9-10 Goals, assessment tasks, cognitive task analysis, and instructional design
    • Class activity: Review Project ideas and step 1 write-up requirements; consider assessment tasks
    • Reading: Feldon paper
      • Posts: Do two posts on the Feldon reading.
  • 9-12 Cognitive Task Analysis and Think Alouds by guest lecturer Vincent Aleven
    • DUE: Project step P1: Domain, Context & Initial Resources
    • Assignment: Project step P2 is due on 9-26
    • Reading: Lovett paper and Gomoll paper
      • Posts: Do two posts (total) on the Lovett and Gomoll papers.
  • 9-17 Discovering learning objectives (KCs) and Rational Cognitive Task Analysis
Multimedia Principles and Cognitive Task Analysis 9-19 to 10-17
  • 9-19 Multi-media Principle
    • Reading: 4.Multi-media Principle (24 pages)
      • Do the quiz and one post.
  • 9-24 Empirical CTA: Difficulty Factors Assessment (DFA)
    • Reading: Heffernan paper
      • Do two posts on the reading
    • Come with an attempt at a model of one your task solutions and, ideally, with an initial draft of project step 2.
  • 9-26 Contiguity Principle
    • Reading: 5.Contiguity Principle (24 pages)
    • Due: P2:Benchmark Tasks & Rational Cognitive Task Analysis
    • Class activity: Peer review of P2
  • 10-1 From CTA to model building & instructional design
  • 10-3 Modality Principle
    • Reading: 6.Modality Principle (18 pages)
    • Class activity: Work on P3. Analyzing your data
  • 10-15 Richard Clark visit to class [Was previously Coherence Principle]
  • 10-17 Coherence and Personalization Principles
    • Reading: 8.Coherence Principle (28 pages)
    • Reading: 9.Personalization Principle (26 pages)
Learning By Doing Principles 10-22 to 11-19
  • 10-22 Segmenting and Pretraining
    • Reading: 10.Segmenting and Pretraining (18 pages)
    • Do quiz and one post
  • 10-24 KLI & Selecting appropriate instructional principles
    • Reading: KLI sections 6-7
    • DUE: P4: Assessment & Initial Instructional Design
    • Assignment: P5 is due 11-7
  • 10-29 Leveraging Examples in E-Learning
    • Reading: 11.Leveraging Examples in E-Learning (28 pages)
  • 10-31 Does Practice Make Perfect
    • Reading: 12.Does Practice Make Perfect (28 pages)
  • 11-5 Learning Together Virtually
    • Reading: 13.Learning Together Virtually (30 pages)
  • 11-7 Who’s in Control?
    • Reading: 14.Who’s in Control? 30 pages)
  • 11-12 Simulations and Games
    • Reading: 16.Simulations and Games (32 pages)
    • DUE: P5: Instructional Design Prototyping & Testing
    • Assignment: P6 is due 11-26
  • 11-14 E-Learning to Build Problem Solving Skill
    • Reading: 15.E-Learning to Build Problem Solving Skill (30 pages)
  • 11-19 Applying the Guidelines
    • Reading: 17.Applying the Guidelines (24 pages)
Project Presentations 11-21 to 12-5
  • 11-21 Project Presentations
  • 11-26 Project Presentations
    • Faculty course evaluation
    • Changed "Due: P6: Research Design" to revise your project with a particular focus on improving steps 3 and 5. Turn all your revisions in as part of the final project and include the reflection statement (see the project assignment handout).
    • Assignment: Final Project is due 12-13
  • 11-28 Thanksgiving, no class
  • 12-3 Project Presentations
  • 12-5 Project Presentations
Final Project Due on 12-13
  • 12-13 Project Due