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e-Learning and the Science of Instruction by Richard E. Mayer, Ruth C. Clark

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CHAPTER 1 e-Learning Promise and Pitfalls

CHAPTER SUMMARY

In this chapter we define e-learning as instruction delivered on a digital device that is intended to support learning. In e-learning the delivery hardware can range from desktop or laptop computers to tablets or smart phones, but the instructional goal is to support individual learning or organizational performance goals. Our scope includes e-learning designed for self-study available upon demand (asynchronous e-learning) as well as instructor-led e-learning presented at a fixed time (synchronous e-learning). Among these two forms of e-learning, we include e-courses developed primarily to provide information (inform courses) as well as those designed to build specific job-related skills (perform courses).

However, the benefits gained from these new technologies depend on the extent to which they are used in ways compatible with human cognitive learning processes and based on research-based principles of instructional design. When technophiles become so excited about cutting-edge technology that they ignore human mental limitations, they may not be able to leverage technology in ways that support learning. Instructional methods that support rather than defeat human learning processes are an essential ingredient of all effective e-learning courseware. The most appropriate methods depend on the goals of the training (for example, to inform or to perform); the learner’s related skills (for example, whether they are familiar ...

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