Category Archives: 1.2 Message Design

Ed Tech 513- Coherence Principle Analysis

Jon Freer
Ed Tech 513
Coherence Principle Analysis

Coherence Principle Description

The coherence principle essentially states that superfluous material, in the form of visuals, audio or text, should be avoided when preparing a multimedia lesson (Clark & Mayer, 2008, p. 153).  In each of these cases, there is support for the idea that the extra information that is not directly related to the learning objectives can distract the learner and hinder the learning process.

The most important aspects of the coherence principles focus on the avoidance of extraneous material.  In terms of audio, it is best to avoid the inclusion of background music or sounds in a lesson.  With a limit to the amount of working memory a learner has, the background music or other sounds can lead to overload of the working memory and hinder learning.  Eliminating or avoiding superfluous graphics is also recommended. While graphics related to the learning objectives are important to include, adding graphics not related to those objectives for the purpose of “spicing up” the lesson causes the learner to divide their attention between the learning material and the graphics.  When graphics are used, they should be simple in nature to improve the learning process.  Detailed graphics may depress learning, especially among beginners in a particular subject.  Lastly, it is best to avoid the use of extra words.  Words added to interest learners, expand on ideas or go into technical detail can all be distracting for the learners and hinder the learning process.

Examples of Coherence Principle

An example of successful adherence of  the coherence principle is the following slide from the instructor materials from Campbell Biology, the support site for the Biology textbook by Neil Campbell.  The slide presents a clearly identifies the “key to flight” as “aerodynamic structure and provides an image that illustrates this structure in a simple, relatable way.  In addition, the slide avoids going into the technical details of the airfoil in either words or images.  This allows the learner to come away with the simple idea that it is the structure of a wing that allows a bird to overcome gravity.

Another source provides an example of suspect adherence to the coherence principle.  In the slide below from a slideshow on evolution, focus is on Lamarck’s contribution of evolution theory.  While the limited text implies that this slideshow is being used while a teacher narrates, there is also the inclusion of a picture (perhaps one of the students) and the words “Are you still paying Attention?”  Both of these seem to be an attempt to retain the attention of students, but as they do not directly relate to the information being related, serve only to distract and disrupt the learning process.  They most certainly do not add to the learning experience for the student, nor do they effectively make the material more interesting.

Relationship of Coherence Principle to Other Multimedia Principles

Prior principles discussed include the multimedia principle, which states that learners benefit from having words and images together, rather than words alone, and the contiguity principle that states that those included images should be relatively close to the words to which they are related.  In short, these principles state that images should be included and be close to the words they are illustrating.  The relationship this has to the coherence principle is something like a reality check for image inclusion (or other media such as audio).  It is important to include multiple forms of media to allow users to access both auditory and visual learning channels, however, it is equally important to be sure that the images (or audio) serve a specific purpose.  Images must be related to the learning objective.  If they are not, the benefits of adherence to the multimedia principle may, in fact, be contradicted by the lack of adherence to the coherence principle.

Coherence Principle Related to Psychological Theories

Beginning with arousal theory, many instructors seem to face the challenge of keeping the attention of the learner.  To do this, they make attempts to grab or keep attention through the inclusion of “exciting” images, “fun” audio or “interesting” facts or stories.  Arousal theory assumes that the learners will become emotionally engaged and, therefore, have greater interest and focus in the main learning material (Clark & Mayer, 2008, p. 156).  In many ways, it seems like arousal theory makes perfect sense.  If I am attentive to the screen, thanks to the included media, I must be attentive to the topic at hand. Cognitive theory, however, contradicts this.  Essentially, it comes down to the idea that we must process information through our working memory and that working memory has limited capacity. Inclusion of images that do not specifically and coherently relate to the learning objectives will utilize some of the working memory space and may overload the working memory.  This would lead to decreased learning, rather than increased.  The dual-coding theory goes on to imply that improved learning comes from utilizing both the auditory and visual channels (Moreno & Mayer, 2000).  An example of this might be using an image along with narrated text.

My View of the Coherence Principle

The aspect of the coherence principle that strikes me as being right on target is that the illustrations used in a multimedia presentation should be simple in nature.  As a science teacher, I am faced with the constant challenge of helping students to better understand complex systems.  Clearly, images and video go a long way towards helping a student visualize a process such as muscle contraction.  However, there exists a wide variety of diagrams that can show this.  Diagrams that are simple and focus on few specific details help beginner students to pay attention to the process in general without getting lost in the details.

The one aspect of this idea that I would say warrants qualification is that not all students possess the same knowledge base.  Advanced students, who may already have an understanding of the basic ideas, would likely benefit, or at least not be distracted by, a more detailed view of this same material.  They key to this is that the advanced students have prior understanding of the material to link the details to, whereas the beginner students do not.

References

Campbell, N. A., & Reece, J. B. (2001). Campbell Biology. San Francisco, Calif: Benjamin Cummings.

Clark, R. C., & Mayer, R. E. (2008). E-learning and the science of instruction, 2nd edition. Pfeiffer: San Francisco, CA.

Mayer, R. E. (1999). Multimedia aids to problem-solving transfer. International Journal of Educational Research, 31(7), 611-623.

Moreno, R., & Mayer, R. E. (2000). A learner-centered approach to multimedia explanations: Deriving instructional design principles from cognitive theory. Interactive Multimedia Electronic Journal of Computer-Enhanced Learning, 2(2), 2004-07.

Links

Campbell Biology Online (subscription needed)

Southgate Schools Biology presentations

Coherence Analysis

Coherence Principle Description

The coherence principle essentially states that superfluous material, in the form of visuals, audio or text, should be avoided when preparing a multimedia lesson (Clark & Mayer, 2008, p. 153).  In each of these cases, there is support for the idea that the extra information that is not directly related to the learning objectives can distract the learner and hinder the learning process.

The most important aspects of the coherence principles focus on the avoidance of extraneous material.  In terms of audio, it is best to avoid the inclusion of background music or sounds in a lesson.  With a limit to the amount of working memory a learner has, the background music or other sounds can lead to overload of the working memory and hinder learning.  Eliminating or avoiding superfluous graphics is also recommended. While graphics related to the learning objectives are important to include, adding graphics not related to those objectives for the purpose of “spicing up” the lesson causes the learner to divide their attention between the learning material and the graphics.  When graphics are used, they should be simple in nature to improve the learning process.  Detailed graphics may depress learning, especially among beginners in a particular subject.  Lastly, it is best to avoid the use of extra words.  Words added to interest learners, expand on ideas or go into technical detail can all be distracting for the learners and hinder the learning process.

Examples of Coherence Principle

An example of successful adherence of  the coherence principle is the following slide from the instructor materials from Campbell Biology, the support site for the Biology textbook by Neil Campbell.  The slide presents a clearly identifies the “key to flight” as “aerodynamic structure and provides an image that illustrates this structure in a simple, relatable way.  In addition, the slide avoids going into the technical details of the airfoil in either words or images.  This allows the learner to come away with the simple idea that it is the structure of a wing that allows a bird to overcome gravity.

 

Another source provides an example of suspect adherence to the coherence principle.  In the slide below from a slideshow on evolution, focus is on Lamarck’s contribution of evolution theory.  While the limited text implies that this slideshow is being used while a teacher narrates, there is also the inclusion of a picture (perhaps one of the students) and the words “Are you still paying Attention?”  Both of these seem to be an attempt to retain the attention of students, but as they do not directly relate to the information being related, serve only to distract and disrupt the learning process.  They most certainly do not add to the learning experience for the student, nor do they effectively make the material more interesting.


Relationship of Coherence Principle to Other Multimedia Principles

Prior principles discussed include the multimedia principle, which states that learners benefit from having words and images together, rather than words alone, and the contiguity principle that states that those included images should be relatively close to the words to which they are related.  In short, these principles state that images should be included and be close to the words they are illustrating.  The relationship this has to the coherence principle is something like a reality check for image inclusion (or other media such as audio).  It is important to include multiple forms of media to allow users to access both auditory and visual learning channels, however, it is equally important to be sure that the images (or audio) serve a specific purpose.  Images must be related to the learning objective.  If they are not, the benefits of adherence to the multimedia principle may, in fact, be contradicted by the lack of adherence to the coherence principle.

Coherence Principle Related to Psychological Theories

Beginning with arousal theory, many instructors seem to face the challenge of keeping the attention of the learner.  To do this, they make attempts to grab or keep attention through the inclusion of “exciting” images, “fun” audio or “interesting” facts or stories.  Arousal theory assumes that the learners will become emotionally engaged and, therefore, have greater interest and focus in the main learning material (Clark & Mayer, 2008, p. 156).  In many ways, it seems like arousal theory makes perfect sense.  If I am attentive to the screen, thanks to the included media, I must be attentive to the topic at hand. Cognitive theory, however, contradicts this.  Essentially, it comes down to the idea that we must process information through our working memory and that working memory has limited capacity. Inclusion of images that do not specifically and coherently relate to the learning objectives will utilize some of the working memory space and may overload the working memory.  This would lead to decreased learning, rather than increased.  The dual-coding theory goes on to imply that improved learning comes from utilizing both the auditory and visual channels (Moreno & Mayer, 2000).  An example of this might be using an image along with narrated text.

My View of the Coherence Principle

The aspect of the coherence principle that strikes me as being right on target is that the illustrations used in a multimedia presentation should be simple in nature.  As a science teacher, I am faced with the constant challenge of helping students to better understand complex systems.  Clearly, images and video go a long way towards helping a student visualize a process such as muscle contraction.  However, there exists a wide variety of diagrams that can show this.  Diagrams that are simple and focus on few specific details help beginner students to pay attention to the process in general without getting lost in the details.

The one aspect of this idea that I would say warrants qualification is that not all students possess the same knowledge base.  Advanced students, who may already have an understanding of the basic ideas, would likely benefit, or at least not be distracted by, a more detailed view of this same material.  They key to this is that the advanced students have prior understanding of the material to link the details to, whereas the beginner students do not.

 

References

Campbell, N. A., & Reece, J. B. (2001). Campbell Biology. San Francisco, Calif: Benjamin Cummings.

Clark, R. C., & Mayer, R. E. (2008). E-learning and the science of instruction, 2nd edition. Pfeiffer: San Francisco, CA.

Mayer, R. E. (1999). Multimedia aids to problem-solving transfer. International Journal of Educational Research, 31(7), 611-623.

Moreno, R., & Mayer, R. E. (2000). A learner-centered approach to multimedia explanations: Deriving instructional design principles from cognitive theory. Interactive Multimedia Electronic Journal of Computer-Enhanced Learning, 2(2), 2004-07.

 

Links

Campbell Biology Online (subscription needed)

Southgate Schools Biology presentations

Ed Tech 513: Project 1- Multimedia Instruction

For this project, the assignment was to create a presentation that utilizes the multimedia and contiguity principles (I have tried to embed the presentation here, but had no luck) as they are applied to learning a process.  I have chosen the creation of a voicethread on voicethread.com as the process to be learned.  The method I chose was to take screenshots of the process and highlight the steps being described.  The utilization of screenshots that have been annotated (with arrows) reduces the cognitive load of the viewer, allowing them to better process the information.  The setup allows learners to easily find the necessary tabs and buttons to proceed through the process of creating and commenting on slides as well as sharing a completed voicethread.

The combination of the words (slide narration) and the graphics, in this case arrows, creates the “multimedia effect,”  which enhances learning.  Rather than simply reading over a screenshot or simply placing arrow on the screenshots with no narration, the learners are guided through the steps of the process by a combination of graphics and words.  Even this somewhat easy process becomes much easier to understand and process.

Ed Tech 543- Development of a Social Media Policy

While many teachers still choose to keep their head in the sand, the fact is that Social Media is in our schools.  Moreover, that’s where it should be.  There is no doubt that dealing with social media in a school setting is tricky business.  Fears about students safety, cyber-bullying, reputation management, distraction in school and the like are real issues that should be addressed by school communities.  More and more, this is being handled by the development of a Social Media Policy for the school or school district.  This is an important part of creating a culture where students learn to use social media,, something they are already doing in the personal lives, in the space they spend so much of their time.  By taking the approach of creating a policy that cultivates an understanding of the proper use of social media, schools not only protect themselves and their students, they also help students learn to better use such technology.

The following was developed as a guideline for developing such a social media policy in a school.  The original document can be found here.

Plan for Development of a Social Media Policy for Holmquist School

With the ever increasing presence of Social Media in the world of our students, it is important that the school take time to reflect upon what it deems to be “appropriate use” of social media in the school setting.  While it is important to ensure the safety of our students, it is equally important to help students develop skills for using social media and a sense of how to manage their online world.  To that end, this plan was developed as a guideline for developing a Social media policy that effectively meets the needs of our school.

Take a Social Media Inventory

Before developing a policy, it is important to first have an understanding of a great many factors.  The following topic/areas should be included in a questionnaire that may be shared with teachers, administrators, students and parents.  Gaining an understanding of the current use and impact of social media on the school is essential to craft an appropriate policy.

  • Definition of “Social Media”
  • Current Use
    • Teachers/Classes
    • Administration/School Communication
    • Student Use (Academic and Non-Academic)
    • Examples of Good Use
    • Concerns related to Social Media Use

Form a Social Media Policy Committee

A committee of representatives from each of the main areas of the school (teachers, administrators, students and parents) should be assembled with the purpose of working through the answers to the questionnaire and crafting the policy.  It is important to include those who are technology literate and those who are a bit more dubious of technology.  Having the spectrum of attitudes represented on the committee will help to build a policy that makes sense to all members ofthe community.

Research Existing Policies

While the goal of this process is to develop a policy that is crafted specifically for our school, the committee should certainly utilize existing policies to develop an understanding of what areas should be covered in such a policy and how schools similar to ours approach social media in their school.  Individuals with their own learning networks via Social Media may also reach out to find guidelines and ideas.  The following are areas that may be included:

  • Type of Usage
  • Web Access
  • Collaboration, Web 2.0 and Academic Policies
  • Personal Device Useage
  • Security
  • Downloads
  • Online Behavior and Etiquette
  • Personal Safety and Cyberbullying

Write a Draft of the Social Media Policy

With an understanding of the school’s current use of social media and policies of similar schools, the committee should turn their attention to crafting their own policy.  Once completed, this draft should be presented to some constituent groups within the school community (students, teachers, parents), school administrators, the school board and, if deemed necessary by the administration, the school’s attorney.  It is important to emphasize that this is a draft of the policy to reduce confusion and to open the way for feedback from those reviewing it.  Edits may be made based on the feedback received.

A policy may include the following sections (as needed):

 

  • Introduction
  • Rationale for Policy Development
  • Policy Guidelines (broken into sections)
  • Help/Questions Contact Information
  • Signature of Student and/or Parent

Introduction of the Social Media Policy to the School Community

Once reviewed and edited, the policy should be presented to the school community.  The members of the committee should play a central role in explaining the policy and answering any questions that may arise.  This could/should include:

  • Introduction to faculty
  • Introduction to student body
  • Introduction to parents
  • Posting of policy in accessible space

Review the Policy

As social media changes, policies may become somewhat outdated.  Regularly scheduled reviews of the policy should be scheduled to be sure it is up to date and still meets all the needs of the school community.

Resources Used:

Anderson, S. (2012). How to create social media guidelines for your school. Edutopia. Retrieved from http://www.edutopia.org/how-to-create-social-media-guidelines-school

Dunn, J. (2012). It’s time to crowdsource your school’s social media policy. Edudemic. Retrieved from http://edudemic.com/2012/05/social-media-policy-crowdsource/

Johnson, S. (2010). How we used twitter to create our school’s social media guidelines. Ed Social Media. Retreived from: http://www.edsocialmedia.com/2010/08/how-we-used-twitter-to-create-our-schools-social-media-guidelines/

Schultz, J. (2012). Should we fear children accessing facebook? DMLcentral. Retrieved from: http://dmlcentral.net/blog/jason-schultz/should-we-fear-children-accessing-facebook

Smith, L.  (2012). Creating social media policies for school educators- a wise step for a better future. Solutions for Schools. Retrieved from http://solutions-for-schools.com/creating-social-media-policies-for-school-educators-a-wise-step-for-a-better-future/

Vision Statement

Image Credit: Lisa Andres

There has been a shift in the world of education that has created both new needs and new opportunities.  The fact that many students now live their lives in a world in which technology is so pervasive has created a reality to which our educational systems must adapt.  While, as Collins and Halverson note, “the school system has evolved to adapt to incremental changes,” (62) the world has been changing at an incredible pace.  The time has come for students to be prepared for a new world and it is up to the educational systems to adapt and meet this need.

Edutopia points out that “The acceptance of change is a major requirement for technology integration.”  Our educational system must begin to understand that change is not only inevitable, it also can be seen as an enormous opportunity.  There is no doubt that many can see the need for our students to improve in order to keep pace with their peers from other nations.  The National Education Technology Plan 2010 (NETP) makes clear reference to this point.  Technology integration, when done properly, helps students to develop the skills they will need in their ever-changing world.

Moreover, technology goes well beyond need to opportunity.  The rapid evolution of means of connecting with people from around the world has opened up possibilities that students and teachers of previous generation could not have imagined.  Students today can play the role of learner and teacher.  Their work can be shared globally, just as they can tap into resources of experts and peers throughout the world.  Bonk points out that this “sudden trend towards sharing educational resources…is fueling change in education and opening new doors to optimism and human potential” (15).

Making technology an integral part of the learning process serves everyone.  Students are able to learn to effectively and responsibly utilize various forms of technology in their lives to enrich their world experience.  Teachers are able to better meet individual needs and to keep focus on learning rather than the plethora of tasks that pull them away from that objective.  As a whole, the nation and the world become better able to connect and to learn from one another.  The time to embrace the opportunity at our feet has come.

Resources:

Bonk, Curtis J. The World Is Open: How Web Technology Is Revolutionizing Education. San Francisco, Calif: Jossey-Bass, 2009. Print.

Collins, Allan, and Richard Halverson. Rethinking Education in the Age of Technology: The Digital Revolution and Schooling in America. New York: Teachers College Press, 2009. Print.

Edutopia. (n.d.). What is technology integration? Retrieved from http://www.edutopia.org/technology-integration-guide-importance

Edutopia. (n.d.). Why do we need technology integration? Retrieved from http://www.edutopia.org/technology-integration-guide-description

U.S. Department of Education. (2010) National Education Technology Plan 2010 Executive Summary. Retrieved from http://www.ed.gov/technology/netp-2010

Ed Tech 503- Instructional Design Models Concept Map

Assignment:

Learning Objectives of this activity

Learners will be able to

  1. Synthesize 4 Instructional Design Models found in Gustafson & Branch (2002) book.
  2. Represent their synthesis of the Instructional Design process model in a concept map format. The map will exemplify the format where each node represents a concept and where a link between two nodes represents the relationship between the concepts.
  3. Use a concept mapping tool (e.g. Google Drawing) to draw the synthesized model and publish it to the web.
  4. Compare and contrast one’s own model with those of peers.

As a classroom teacher, I chose to focus my attention on the models geared towards that setting. While I did feel that there were moments of clarity gained by mapping out the ideas within each model, I was also taken aback by how complicated they can look on paper. Much like Professor Freed’s PB&J example (I used to use the same activity in my labs, something that seems simple can end up appearing complex when care is taken to mention details.

I used bubbl.us for my concept map. Although I like the tool, I am a bit unsure of how to present the results here, so I will go with overkill.