E-Learning & the Science of Instruction

I am attending my first session of the conference, by Ruth Clark.

I like the title slide she is using, which lists her name, email, website, a photo of her book, and a brief activity (for anybody who has the book). I took a photo of this slide and will post to Flickr later today.

Very large conference room, that is, about 2 minutes before it begins, about 25% full. Not bad for one of the first scheduled sessions at 12:00 noon on a Sunday.

Wow, there even seems to be wireless access here. Sweet.

The intro – reminder to fill out an evaluation and the session materials. Nobody gave them to me when I came in. Will run grab them now.

Ruth is speaking now. Needs to speak louder. I just yelled out and asked her to speak more loudly. She then adjusted the microphone, to mixed results. She also speaks very quickly. Wonder if she is from NY?

Wow, text heavy slides! She is quick.

Her content seems like it may be useful.

She is speaking a lot about research she has done around eLearning. I wonder how this research was done and the methodology used? She has not mentioned this–perhaps it is a reason to buy the book?

Lots of speaking about evidence and research. She just mentioned “evidence-based education” and the research she uses. Reference to Educause 2007. Bridge to producers of research and consumers of research. She will be signing her book at 1:30 and 5:00 today.  This seems very familiar to the world of the scholar-practitioners in which I work. I think I would like to speak with her.

She is showing a bad example of eLearning. It is awful, though very common from my experiencing.

She is now having us speak with colleagues about what grade we would give the eLearning sample she just showed. Nice use of interactivity. Of course, I am so busy liveblogging this, I am not speaking with anybody.

She mentioned there is lots of research for what works best. I wish she would mention, at least once, where this research is from.

This is a common experience–people talk about the importance of research, how they use evidence, bridge the gap between scholarship and practice–all without explaining which research is used, the methodology, how it is validated, etc.

She just mentioned her handout, which looks interesting. I like the variety of modalities, interactivity in her presentation, and general facilitation techniques. She is engaging and seems to be modeling really useful techniques. This is particularly interesting in that she is speaking about eLearning.

She is now speaking about Richard Mayer at UC Santa Barbara, her research partner and co-author of her recent book (though her name is bigger on the cover!).

It feels good to liveblog a conference session again, as I have not done this since Northern Voice 2008 a few months ago.

Mayer’s Research Limits:

  1. Immediate learning
  2. Short lessons
  3. Process content
  4. Many lack practice
  5. Western learners

Words and visuals improve learning over words alone. Seems like a no-brainer, but she was speaking about this being research based (notice the limitations above). I wish there were some discussion as to the size of the study, when it was done, and the methodology used. Yes, once again the researcher in me.

When using eLearning, less is more. Stories throughout the eLearning sometimes distracts the learner from learning what is clearly in the learning objectives. Even if the stories are interesting and provide examples, they can still distract the learner from the fundamental content in the lesson itself.

Now she is speaking about animation vs. stills. Hmm, “Stills May Promote Learning” (from her slide title). I like her use of language in and around research = “May” promote vs. “Does” promote. This is a fine line that is very important for developers of eLearning. 

Is it better to have visuals explained with audio narration or with text or with text and narration? Visuals with narration seems to be better than with text alone or with text and narration.

I wonder how we can make use of this with the rapid development with are planning to use at my work?

“Leaning is better when animation is accompanied by narration alone  than by narration and text.”

Ruth’s handout is quite good. It does not repeat the slides. Instead, it complements them. It asks some of her same questions and topics with room for learner notes next to them.

She is really a good model from which to learn about how to teach / facilitate (if only she would speak more loudly and a little slower). I usually speak loudly, and often just as fast I suppose.

Ruth is now speaking about where text should be on slides in the eLearning. Visuals with narration is best, with Visuals and text together in a slide, and then visuals with text at the bottom  (separated) being the worst.

I think I want to buy her book.

Should have brought my back-up battery. Think it is in my other laptop bag.

Something smells nice in this room. Smells like vacation candy. I am metacognitively aware of how I am getting distracted. I just looked at my laptop battery settings.

Somebody just walked by in shorts, a beach hat, and wearing only socks on his feet. Guess adds to the “homey” feel at the conference?

Anyway, I think I am saturation level with Ruth’s content.

She just showed this demo with avatars. Entertaining and possibly useful. It seems the avatar needs to be / do something relevant, and the voice that is used is critical for learning success. I did find the avatar screen she used a bit confusing, though I think it was an example from a vendor rather than her own developed one.

Liveblogging is easier when typing is faster and there are no other windows or applications open to hog MS Vista resources (even though my Lenovo is strong enough to launch a spaceship, it is still no match for Vista).

There certainly seems to be an open world for eLearning and online educational research. Perhaps I should begin to more seriously consider engaging in formal research in this area?

Yes, at saturation point. Lots of great stuff. Will buy her book. Will post this now.

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