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Applying the Coherence Principle to eLearning Courses

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Applying the Coherence Principle to eLearning Courses

One of the mistakes commonly made when e-learning developers formulate a course is to use excessive background music and content, and irrelevant graphics on-screen.

According to Clark, R.C., & Mayer, R.E. (2003) in the book “E-Learning and the Science of Instruction”, the Coherence Principle states that all unnecessary information in multimedia messages should be eliminated, such as sound, images and words as they harm the learning. The learning can be improved only when unnecessary music or sound, graphics and words are removed from e-learning courses. As by adding interesting but irrelevant materials to e-learning courses, the learner can get distracted.

The three principles which instruction designers should follow:

1. Avoid extraneous sounds in e-lessons: According to the Cognitive Theory of Multimedia, the capacity of human memory is very limited. It predicts that adults will learn more deeply from multimedia presentations which do not contain any extraneous sound. Music can be used at the beginning of the course to make the learner focus on the course. Right and wrong sounds can also be used in the internal assessments.

2. Avoid extraneous pictures in e-lessons: This principle states that adult learners want to build the structure or image of the course as they read the content on-screen. The image placed in the course should complement the thinking process and not distract learners.

3. Avoid extraneous words in e-lessons: This principle states that simple, basic and concise on-screen text helps learning. Therefore, we should avoid using long phrases and sentences and instead help the learner by using sounds sparingly, adding complementary images and simple and concise on-screen content.

Thus by applying the coherence principle, eLearning developers can make their course effective and interesting. Also, remove the unnecessary multimedia that hampers learning.

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Topics: eLearning Implementation

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