DEFH: My post on the section on theory (1.7)

An example of a the functionality I would like to see in a reusable learning object is in a NEJM article available at

There is a clickable icon for an interactive graph which is called Milestones in the Aids Pandemic. There are four components, including Epidemiology.

This really caught my eye because it is a visualisation of big data that allows the user to interrogate a global data set and choose particular views that interest them.

I can find out that in South Africa prevalance went from 0.8% in 1991 to 17.3% in 2011. Uganda went from 13% to 7.2% in the corresponding years. This could be a measure of the harm done by President Mbeki’s denialism about HIV/Aids.

I think that this goes beyond the incorporation of text, video, animation and audio because it is using the computing power of the digital platform to allow learners to discover information and think about explanations for what they find. Learners may produce new insights because they have access potentially to live data with tools to investigate trends over time as well as similarities and differences in different parts of the world.

The article on the course

Some of the theory behind multimedia learning

Professor Richard Mayer, Professor of Psychology at the University of California, Santa Barbara is one of the key researchers in the use different media in E-Learning. This article provides a brief summary of some of the design principles for multimedia learning based on his research.

People learn in different ways some people find graphics and animations helpful others prefer written words or audio. What features help you to learn?

  • multimedia principle: People learn better from words and pictures than from words alone.
  • segmenting principle: People learn better when a multimedia lesson is presented in learner-paced segments rather than as a continuous unit.
  • pre-training principle: People learn better from a multimedia lesson when they know the names and characteristics of the main concepts.
  • modality principle: People learn better from animation and narration than from animation and on-screen text.
  • coherence principle: People learn better when extraneous words, pictures, and sounds are excluded rather than included.
  • redundancy principle: People learn better from animation and narration than from animation, narration, and on on-screen text
  • signaling principle: People learn better when the words include cues about the organization of the presentation.
  • spatial contiguity principle: People learn better when corresponding words and pictures are presented near rather than far from each other on the page or screen.
  • temporal contiguity principle: People learn better when corresponding words and pictures are presented simultaneously rather than successively.
  • personalization principle: People learn better when the words are in conversational style rather than formal style.
  • voice principle: People learn better when words are spoken in a standard-accented human voice than in a machine voice or foreign-accented human voice.
  • image principle: People do not necessarily learn better from a multimedia lesson when the speaker’s image is added to the screen.
  • individual differences principle: Design effects are stronger for low-knowledge learners than for high-knowledge learners. Design effects are stronger for high-spatial learners than for low-spatial learners.

Discussion point

  • Which of these principles do you think are important?

You may want to refer back to these principles when you start to design your own E-learning resource or you might recognise them in the designs we have used in some of the reusable learning objects.


Clark, R. C., & Mayer, R. E. (2003). E-learning and the Science of Instruction. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass.

Mayer, R. E. (Ed.). (2005). The Cambridge Handbook of Multimedia Learning. New York: Cambridge University Press.

More on multimedia learning principles is available in the resource bank.


3.9 Effective Change management


I notice that colleges which seem to excel in the Learning Technology area tend to have a well-staffed ILT team that designs digital learning resources in collaboration with teaching staff. They tend to have a robust digital infrastructure that enables rather than hinders easy use of mobile devices. Examples are Uxbridge College and Loughborough college and of course Borders College discussed in the Getting Started part of this course.

Heart of Worcestershire and the Designlearn network have contributed a lot to the sector both with establishing these diplomas and the Blended Learning Consortium.

On’shocking poor’ internet access

End of week 1 discussion


I heard of a project in Kenya where teacher training is delivered through texts which are free for the education sector. PowerPoint slides are sent as an MMS. But I agree with campaigning for provision, particularly for education. I think if the Internet had emerged before the era of privatisation it would perhaps have been rolled out like electricity and water.


Debate on cost cutting through BL

3.6 Investing in blended learning



Learning analytics

(Course reference: Blended Learning Essentials Embedding Practice, 1.8)

This is a very interesting and somewhat daunting topic. There are many complexities like privacy and data protection; does the data support the analysis? is the data reliable? does a focus on learning analytics lead to an overemphasis on quantifiable indicators?

I thought George Siemens of SOLAR gave a very useful definition of learning analytics.

Learning analytics is the measurement, collection, analysis and reporting of data about learners and their contexts, for purposes of understanding and optimising learning and the environments in which it occurs.

Source: Introduction to learning analytics (7:08, George Siemens, SOLAR)

I welcome the focus on learners and their contexts and he emphasis on improving learning.

As educators, we owe it to learners to offer them the best opportunities to learn effectively. If learning analytics data shows that medical students learn anatomy faster with longer retention of information if they use an interactive app allowing them to see 3-d renderings of particular parts of the body, with in-built quizzes to test their own knowledge compared with using a textbook, then the app should be the resource provided.

For millenials who have grown up in a digitally sophisticated world, there are habits of acquiring information rapidly from digital content designed to be absorbed quickly. And this is not merely infographics, but interactive apps which make it possible to find relevant information from huge datasets. Think of the laborious process of finding out from a print source which new movies are showing compared to database driven web or mobile apps. Acquisition of information is a key component of learning. Educators should be taking advantage of all the digital tools available to facilitate acquisition in the most engaging and efficient way.



Blended learning session in action

(Course reference: Blended Learning Essentials Embedding Practice, 1.4)

The video showed an aromatherapy class where students were shown how to use an app which allowed them to learn about the components of different ingredients and how to mix essential oils suitable for clients.

The app allows the students to select different oils and displays a pie chart showing its composition in terms of effects such as stimulation, relaxation, balance etc.

The pie charts all use the same colour coding for the effects and is a good visual tool for seeing which effects are present and in what proportions.

The app allows the students to select oils to mix (they can select the quantity of each oil selected) and generates a pie chart showing the effect of the mixture.

The app’s use of interactivity, rich media, and dynamic display makes it an effective learning tool:

  • Colour and size are used to show information about effect and proportion – this visualisation of data engages important parts of the brain to enhance learning.
  • Students can be active in their learning – they can choose which oils to look at and mix.
  • Students can work together – they can talk about what they see and benefit from each other’s insights.
  • The ability to see a visual representation of their chosen mixture means they can experiment with different combinations and get immediate data on what their choices do.
  • They can save a particular mixture which means they can refer to it in future and also it is available for assessment.

A static textbook even with colour pie charts for each oil and some sample pie charts for some mixtures would be much more cumbersome to use for reference, and they would need to record their choices manually. They would presumably have to do fairly time-consuming calculations to work out the pie chart for their mixtures.

It was not clear from the video whether students could record the reasons for their choices and information about the qualities of the actual mixture they went on to create. And whether the saved document had room for teacher feedback to be added directly.

The issue of individual assessment for work done as a group was also not touched on.

It strikes me that while we are expecting to produce evidence of how technology may be enhancing learning, the bigger issue is where is the scientific evidence for the validity of aromatherapy.

Flipped Learning infographic

This is one of the resources shared by Belinda Caulfield on the BLE course section dealing with flipped learning. See

See also (with good infographic features!)

I find it an excellent resource for getting an overview of key aspects of flipped learning. The presentation method speeds up the learning and makes the content more memorable thanks to visual cues like colour, shape and size and the use of people as actors in a narrative with the concept emerging from practice and the impact on learning measured and evaluated.

Flipped Classroom

Created by Knewton