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Cognitive Load Implications of Social Media in Teaching and Learning


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Teaching and learning in the 21st century had taken advantage of technology to foster effective learning through multimedia education, active learning and improved classroom interaction. Social media have particularly helped in the area of content sharing and learner collaborations. Several schools in both developing and developed nations have incorporated social media as informal Learning Management Systems (LMSs). Reports also abound on the positive contributions of these media to teaching and learning. However, the capability of these media to derail learning due to the high cognitive load generated from the extraneous processing induced by their design have not been extensively studied. This paper discusses the place of social media as educational technology in terms of its ability to foster collaborative learning, classroom communication and improved learning. The challenges associated with its use are also discussed from cognitive load standpoint based on the nature of human cognitive architecture (HCA) and information processing. Implications for essential processing, effective processing and extraneous processing are discussed. The implications for teaching and learning are also highlighted.
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Journal of Multidisciplinary Engineering Science and Technology (JMEST)
ISSN: 3159-0040
Vol. 2 Issue 11, November - 2015
JMESTN42351156 3026
Cognitive Load Implications of Social Media in
Teaching and Learning
1,2Bosede Edwards 1Baharuddin Aris Nurbiha Shukor
1Dept. of Educational Science, Mathematics & Creative Multimedia
Universiti Teknologi Malaysia
Skudai, Johor
2Dept. of Chemistry, School of Science
Osun State College of Education
Ilesa. Osun State. Nigeria
AbstractTeaching and learning in the 21st
century had taken advantage of technology to
foster effective learning through multimedia
education, active learning and improved
classroom interaction. Social media have
particularly helped in the area of content sharing
and learner collaborations. Several schools in
both developing and developed nations have
incorporated social media as informal Learning
Management Systems (LMSs). Reports also
abound on the positive contributions of these
media to teaching and learning. However, the
capability of these media to derail learning due to
the high cognitive load generated from the
extraneous processing induced by their design
have not been extensively studied. This paper
discusses the place of social media as
educational technology in terms of its ability to
foster collaborative learning, classroom
communication and improved learning. The
challenges associated with its use are also
discussed from cognitive load standpoint based
on the nature of human cognitive architecture
(HCA) and information processing. Implications
for essential processing, effective processing and
extraneous processing are discussed. The
implications for teaching and learning are also
Keywords social software; cognitive load;
information processing; distraction; multitasking,
collaborative learning, extraneous processing
Effective learning must be focused on the
generation of schemas; that is, single, large,
extensive information chunks that are retrievable
for use at any time and requiring no further
processing [1], [2]. Effective teaching and learning
techniques should therefore foster and support
creation of schemas. Various techniques are
constantly being explored in teaching and learning
to achieve improved effectiveness. The common
thread in these techniques being collaboration or
team work, which, according to Educational
Broadcasting Corporation (EBC), can help learners
create meaningful learning experiences [3].
Students are able to engage in paced learning,
individual differences are supported, and in many
cases, personal as well as group credit accrues.
Various methods are leveraged to foster
collaborative learning; face-to-face and remote
connections are possible depending on the
learners and the learning situations as well as the
resources available. In recent times, as the use of
media and gadgets become commonplace, great
advantage is being taken of the affordances of new
media and gadgets for educational purposes. As a
result, technology is continually invading the 21st
century classroom. These changes, according to
the submission of Higher Education Funding
Council for England (HEFCE), are due to the fact
that technology enhances learning and learners
are enthusiastic about technology in education [4].
The Technology-Enhanced Learning (TEL)
research of the United Kingdom also identified
some benefits of technology in education to
include its ability to support the learning of abstract
concepts through the provision of visual systems
that the learner can relate with. It can also
enhance the productivity of both teachers and
students through the use of software which cuts
down the required effort, time and cost for some
tasks [5]. Other technologies (e.g. artificial
intelligence systems) have the ability to anticipate
and meet user-needs.
A major stride of technology in education in the
form of media is the use of social software.
Classrooms across the world now employ these
software that were originally meant for non-
academic communication. The result has been
found to be quite positive. These media offer a
platform for learner-focused education by
promoting social interaction and collaborative
learning. They stimulate ‘proactive and reactive
participation’ [6] in addition to providing a platform
for content sharing. Facebook is particularly
outstanding in its classroom invasion due to its
design which affords a lot of applications for
academic transactions.
Some of the factors that make Facebook a
unique educational tool were identified by [6]
Journal of Multidisciplinary Engineering Science and Technology (JMEST)
ISSN: 3159-0040
Vol. 2 Issue 11, November - 2015
JMESTN42351156 3027
through comparison with a conventional LMS.
They identified among other elements, the factors
of student-focused ownership, creation,
organization, management and sharing of content
as well as synchronous interaction. They reported
on several studies of Facebook as an academic
tool and identified the advent of Facebook ‘groups’
as a major welcome development that was to
redefine teacher-student communication.
The use of social software in education when
viewed from its support for collaborative learning is
tremendous. However, technology in education is
not without its negative consequences. According
to [7], the design of multimedia instruction uses two
main approaches: the technology-centered and the
learner-centered approaches. The focus of the
learner-centered approach is the nature of human
cognitive system. The three possible learning
outcomes according to Mayer include: no learning
(indicated by poor retention and poor transfer of
learning), rote learning (typified by good retention
but poor transfer) and meaningful learning
(characterized by excellent retention as well as
transfer). This is however dependent on the
learner’s cognitive activity during learning. One of
the key issues of multimedia learning therefore
focuses on the cognitive load implications.
Cognitive load refers to the mental demand
placed on the information processing system for
learning based on the nature, type and design of
the learning material. Hence, this paper is focused
on the assessment of the implications of social
software in Education from cognitive load
perspectives. It will highlight the implications for
teaching and learning, retention and transfer as the
ultimate goal of instruction. It will also make
recommendations for addressing the identified
The use of social software in education affords
several opportunities and advantages. Applications
for in-class use as well as for out-of-class
communication are extensive and have been
explored by many teachers in institutions across
the world. Some of the key affordances are
A. Collaborative Learning and Classroom
Collaborative learning is greatly enhanced
through the use of social software. Classroom
communication and the sharing of content
(graphics, video, animations, documents), links
and many other educational materials are possible.
Groups within a large class group can also
collaborate separately and carry on private
discussion among the few members. Such
discussion can be labelled for easy reference or for
a revisit by members.
Through Facebook groups, classroom
communication is extended beyond the classroom.
Sharing of content including documents and
various multimedia materials are possible and out-
of-class ‘live’ interactions are enabled by the
asynchronous capabilities afforded by the platform.
These groups afford various modes of connection
and participants in a course or programme can
learn together ‘alone’ in their course group without
interferences from ‘outside’ the class. The teacher
is also able to provide guidance, corrections and
share useful materials with the learners. These
software can be great assets in distance education
B. Fostering Improved Learning
According to [8], various factors that support
improved education include factors of collaborative
learning (Fig 1). They submit that the identification
of a clear purpose for the learning as well as the
use of repetition is important for effective learning
but also identified the creation of stories, break-
times, enjoyment as well as the use of visuals
among other things as important factors. These
techniques work by supporting encoding of
information which is fundamental to retention and
learning. The techniques also underscore the
importance of engagement and motivation in
learning as factors that foster transfer and storage
and the creation of schemas (Fig 1).
One of the key challenges of technology in
education is multitasking or engagement with
multiple media or gadgets. With the proliferation of
media and gadgets came the need for individuals
to attempt to do many things at the same time.
This is necessarily a challenge to learning where
there is an overriding need for focus or learner
A. Multitasking and Distraction
According to [9], 72 hours of video content
alone goes online on YouTube every minute. This
amounts to 12-year content per week, putting the
normal person under the constant pressure to
meet up with so much information. Hence, the
need to continually multitask. This situation is
described by [9] as the fear of missing out’ or
‘FOMO’. The effective 21st century person is thus
often found trying to ‘meet up’ by multitasking. This
is also carried on into the classroom. Multitasking
is defined by [10] as the ‘simultaneous execution of
two or more processing activities’. It is a parallel
processing function which [11] believe the
members of the ‘net’ generation are enabled for by
virtue of their relationship with technology.
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However, many researchers [12],[13],[14],[15]
opined humans are incapable of multitasking.
Fig 1. Techniques for Improving Education
This is in spite of the fact that supporters of
multitasking believe it is the ‘way to go’ in the age
of information and it is promoted by the business
world and touted as the selling point for new tools,
gadgets and media. Invariably, humans are
expected to function the way these gadgets and
tools would. There is however no denying the fact
that multitasking constitutes a great source of
distraction. [16] in his article, reported on a Havard
study of distracted driving in America which
identifies 2,600 annual deaths and 330,000
moderate and severe injury cases resulting from
cell-phone distractions during driving alone. There
is therefore reason to expect ‘danger’ to learning
as well. Research actually attests to the
detrimental effect of multitasking on the brain and
personality [17] as well as the fact that ‘distractions
make learning harder’ [18]
Information processing in the human memory
system is influenced by the design of the HCA.
This is because of the limitations of the working
memory responsible for information processing.
Cognitive resources are allocated in the HCA for
the handling of cognitive load which have three
components as identified. When social software is
being used, the learner is exposed to multiple
processing and distractions from sources including
posts and comments, chats, uploads (multimedia,
web links, etc.), notifications on the activities of
other connected users and many other factors
inherent in the design of the social software. The
implications of social media in education viewed
from cognitive load perspective are therefore
discussed from information processing
A. The Human Cognitive Architecture (HCA)
and Information Processing
The HCA describes the nature, design and
properties of the human memory system [19]. It
describes the manner in which information is
processed by humans as well as the limitations of
the human memory system. The HCA provides a
layout of the memory system as a 3-part structure
(Fig. 2) composed of an external or physical
sensory memory, a working memory that
constitutes the seat of information processing [20],
[21], [22] and a long term memory that is
responsible for storage of processed information
[23], [24].
The key significance of the HCA in education
lies in the capacity of the working memory [20],
[21], [22]. While the long term memory is unlimited
in its capacity, the working memory is quite limited;
able to process only a very small amount of
information at a given time. As a result of this,
when there is information overload, the processing
demand may exceed the capacity of the working
memory and the processing become ineffective,
resulting in consequent loss of material.
Ref [7] identified the implications of cognitive
load for essential processing, effective processing
and extraneous processing. He discussed the
need to employ cognitive load principles in the use
of media and technology in education and provided
insights on the means by which this might be
B. Cognitive Load and Information Processing
According to cognitive load theory [19], [20],
[21], every learning material imposes a mental
demand or cognitive load on the working memory.
Total cognitive load (CLt) have three components
[23], [25] that are summative in nature. These are
the intrinsic load (CLint), the extraneous load (CLext)
and the germane load (CLger). The three
components are related such that,
CLint + CLext + CLger = CLt
This total capacity (CLt) cannot be exceeded;
hence an increase in one component can only
cause a decrease in others or vice versa. The
intrinsic load or CLint is a property of the learning
material and cannot be manipulated. CLext and
CLger can however be manipulated. Though both
CLext and CLger are functions of instructional
design/presentation, CLext is undesirable because
it constitutes a waste of cognitive resources and
does not contribute to learning. It is occasioned by
bad presentation of instruction, unnecessary
materials or activities that are unrelated to or
distracting from the learning tasks; this include
multitasks and distractions.
1) Implications for essential processing
The learning material constitutes the intrinsic
load. This load represents the mental demand
inherent in and native to the learning material. It is
the cognitive resource required to process the
learning material. It is ‘unalterable’ and can only be
managed in such a way that the learner is
supported to achieve effective processing.
Journal of Multidisciplinary Engineering Science and Technology (JMEST)
ISSN: 3159-0040
Vol. 2 Issue 11, November - 2015
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Mayer suggested the use of paced presentation for
addressing this; that is, presentation of instruction in
small sequential parts rather than as a whole chunk of
heavy material. This will assist the learner in
mastering content in a stepwise manner such that
cognitive resources can be allocated according to the
need of each part.
2) Implications for effective processing
Effective cognitive load or germane load (CLger)
contributes positively to learning. It is invested in
effective transfer and storage of fully processed
materials. In other words, it is required for the
formation of schemas. This refers to chunks of
learnt materials that have been automated and
needs no more processing but available for use
whenever needed. Good instruction is therefore
one that maximizes CLger. Cognitive load devoted
to effective processing is cognitive resource
effectively employed.
3) Implications for extraneous processing
When multitasking is viewed within the context
of cognitive load theory, it can be understood that
having to handle many tasks simultaneously
demands a correspondingly huge working memory
capacity that can easily become unaffordable for
the memory system. This is extraneous processing
and can result in ineffective learning. Materials
capable of causing extraneous processing include
unnecessary texts, graphics, sounds and other
similar cognitive activities. They constitute the
extraneous load, causing unnecessary processing,
transfer losses and poor storage (reduced
germane load) and a defeat of the ultimate goal of
Allocation of cognitive resources in the HCA is
depicted in Fig 2. The green arrows depict
information received in the sensory memory while
the thick arrows represent cognitive resources
allocated to intrinsic, germane and extraneous
loads in the Working Memory. The red arrows
represent fully processed information as schema
passed into the long term memory for storage
while the long broken arrows symbolize wasted
cognitive resources devoted to extraneous
processing which makes no contribution to learning
but rather defeats transfer and storage.
4) Implications for Teaching and Learning
The implications of social software in education
from cognitive load viewpoint can be summarized
based on the operations of working memory and
long term memory. When social media is employed
in education, the design of the interface could
constitute a source of multitasking and distraction
to the learner. This imposes cognitive load on the
working memory system as the extraneous
processing competes for the consumption of
cognitive resources. This can impose additional
threat on concentration and engagement with
learning, resulting in ineffective learning.
It is possible that extraneous processing may
override the learning materials in the competition
for cognitive resources due to the fact that they are
less demanding on attention, more engaging and
more motivating. This can jeopardize the entire
learning process. Furthermore, the demands
placed by this extraneous processing in addition to
those legitimately placed by essential processing
of actual learning material may exceed the working
memory capacity. Failure of processing in the
working memory will result in ineffective transfer
and consequent ineffective storage, thereby
jeopardizing the formation of schema and a
compromise of the goal of education.
Social software in education have great benefits
as effective platforms for multimedia education,
content sharing and collaborations. They can
provide cost-effective platforms for collaborative
and peer learning and academic communications
at various levels and modes of education. The fact
that they are designed primarily for social rather
than academic communication must however not
be lost on especially learners, teachers and
designers of instruction. Efforts at using these
software should be with cognizance to the
cognitive load implications of their employment to
achieve effectiveness. Instructional design
employing social media should focus at minimizing
cognitive load. Learners should understand the
dangers of distractions during learning while
teachers should take into account these factors
during instructional presentation.
The use of social software should leverage on
cognitive load principles as presented in the
cognitive load theory. Principles that foster
essential processing, effective processing and
those that reduce extraneous processing should
be employed for use with social software for
education. Instructional methods that leverage on
the increase of learner motivation and engagement
with learning materials should also be employed
Fig. 2. Cognitive Load & Resource Allocation in the HCA
Journal of Multidisciplinary Engineering Science and Technology (JMEST)
ISSN: 3159-0040
Vol. 2 Issue 11, November - 2015
JMESTN42351156 3030
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... However, extraneous and germane load are the functions of instructional design, thus, can be manipulated. Extraneous load is undesirable and does not contribute to learning, it is caused by ineffective instructions, unnecessary and excessive activities (Edwards et al., 2015). ...
... They constitute the extraneous load, causing unnecessary processing, transfer losses and poor storage. All aforementioned affects defeats the ultimate goal of instruction (Edwards et al., 2015). ...
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Purpose Social media has shown a substantial influence on the daily lives of students, mainly due to the overuse of smartphones. Students use social media both for academic and non-academic purposes. Due to an increase in the usage of social media, academicians are now confronting pedagogical issues, and the question arises as to whether the use of social media affects students’ performance or not. Considering this, this study aims to examine the role of social media usage on students’ academic performance in the light of cognitive load theory. Design/methodology/approach Using a quantitative research approach, 220 valid responses were received through an e-survey administered to university students. The proposed claims were tested through structural equation modeling using AMOS version 24. Findings Findings revealed that social media usage for non-academic purposes harmed students’ academic performance. Additionally, social media usage for academic purposes and social media multitasking did not affect students’ academic performance. Most importantly, social media self-control failure moderates the relationship between “social media usage for non-academic purposes” and students’ academic performance. Practical implications The findings of the study can be used by the academic policymakers of institutions and regulatory bodies. Originality/value The study suggests that teachers not only rely on using social media as a learning tool but also concentrate on improving student self-control over the use of social media through various traditional and non-traditional activities, such as online readings, group discussions, roleplays and classroom presentations.
... Social media is an effective platform for multimedia education, sharing content, discussion, and collaboration Edwards, Aris, & Shukor (2015). The reality that social media is designed especially for social networks than scholarly communication no negates the benefits for students. ...
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The second screening activity has become practice media use among many students. Especially on political issues, someone tends to look for more information received through television with access to social media-related issues simultaneously. This study wants to see the effect of a second screening on political efficacy directly or indirectly. The involvement of students in the political process is needed in democratic life; moreover, Indonesia is facing a global world crisis. The research used a survey method to distribute questionnaires through social media platforms with a sample of 385 college students who live in Jakarta. The results showed that the second screening has a direct effect on the political efficacy of students, and there is also an indirect effect with the mediation of online discussion-related politics. The second screening activity, with information sources from television and social media as well as interaction with other users, is a learning process student for more involved in the political process. The practice of second screening can be applied to design learning to get student involvement in democratic lives.
... These public displays of pseudo-engagement may not be conducive to behavioral change, and in fact, may represent detachment from actual behavior by making participants believe that they have already made some significant effort [64]. Compared with observing and endorsing, contributing on social media requires a higher level of cognitive engagement, as individuals need to develop some original perspectives or responses to the issue [65]. Contributing on social media may lead to positive health-related outcomes and influence behavior change [50]. ...
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Background Many interventions find that social media engagement with health promotion materials can translate into behavioral changes. However, only a few studies have examined the ways in which specific actions on various social media platforms are correlated with health behaviors. Objective The objective of this study was to examine the association between social media use and HIV testing behaviors among Chinese men who have sex with men (MSM). Methods In July 2016, a Web-based survey was conducted to recruit MSM in 8 Chinese cities through Blued (Blue City Holdings Ltd.), the world’s largest gay mobile phone app. Data on sociodemographic variables, social media use platforms and behaviors, sexual behaviors, and HIV testing histories were collected. HIV testing–related social media use was defined as having ever engaged with HIV testing content on social media, which was further divided into observing (ie, receiving), endorsing (eg, liking and sharing), and contributing (eg, posting or commenting on HIV testing materials). Confirmatory factor analysis (CFA) was conducted to determine the best division of HIV testing–related social media use. Univariate and multivariable logistic regressions were used to examine the association between HIV testing–related social media use and HIV testing behaviors. Results A total of 2105 individuals participated in the survey. Among them, 46.75% (984) were under the age of 24 years, 35.43% (746) had high school education or less, and 47.74% (587) had condomless sex in the last 3 months. More than half of the respondents (58.14%, 1224/2105) reported HIV testing–related social media use. Additionally, HIV testing–related social media use, especially on multifunctional platforms such as WeChat, was found to be associated with recent HIV testing (adjusted odds ratio [aOR] 2.32, 95% CI 1.66-3.24). Contributing on social media was correlated with recent HIV testing (aOR 2.10, 95% CI 1.40-3.16), but neither observing (aOR 0.66, 95% CI 0.38-1.15) nor endorsing (aOR 1.29, 95% CI 0.88-1.90) were correlated. Conclusions Our data suggest that social media use, particularly on multifunctional platforms such as WeChat and with contributing behaviors, is correlated with HIV testing among MSM in China. Campaigns that promote active participant contribution on social media beyond passive observation and endorsement of promotional materials are needed. This study has implications for the design and implementation of social media interventions to promote HIV testing.
As more learning continues to move online, the implications of extraneous processing for the human memory system, especially within digital learning spaces, calls for instructional approaches that promotes essential processing. This chapter discusses the nature and direct implications of cognitive (over)overload for human working memory, and how to mitigate this in online and technology-mediated learning environments. In a 2-stage, mixed-mode study involving university students in Malaysia, the chapter highlights important elements of pedagogy that instructors can leverage to promote effective technology-aided instruction in the digital, but distraction-loaded learning environments of the twenty-first century.
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The presentation of several sources of information through different sensory modalities in multimedia environments has great potential for promoting meaningful learning. However, multimedia learning sometimes fails to live up to its full potential, because high cognitive loads are often generated, pri-12 F. paaS, p. aYreS, and M. paChMan
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First, we propose a theory of multimedia learning based on the assumptions that humans possess separate systems for processing pictorial and verbal material (dual-channel assumption), each channel is limited in the amount of material that can be processed at one time (limited-capacity assumption), and meaningful learning involves cognitive processing including building con- nections between pictorial and verbal representations (active-processing assumption). Second, based on the cognitive theory of multimedia learning, we examine the concept of cognitive over- load in which the learner's intended cognitive processing exceeds the learner's available cogni- tive capacity. Third, we examine five overload scenarios. For each overload scenario, we offer one or two theory-based suggestions for reducing cognitive load, and we summarize our re- search results aimed at testing the effectiveness of each suggestion. Overall, our analysis shows that cognitive load is a central consideration in the design of multimedia instruction.
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Réflexions sur la surcharge cognitive. Cet article aborde le problème de la saturation cognitive tel que les individus le vivent au quotidien sur leur lieu de travail. Il examine d'abord une série d'hypothèses sur les causes de ce phénomène : trop d'information en "push" et en "pull", le multi-tâche et les interruptions, un environnement de travail mal conçu. En passant, il pose une série de questions : la mesure de la qualité de l'information, la forme de sa fonction d'utilité, la pertinence de différentes stratégies de gestion des flux. Ensuite, il cherche à bâtir un cadre d'analyse pour améliorer la conception des environnements de travail. Il enrichit la formalisation de Simon et Newell sur l'espace de la tâche, en montrant que les stratégies cognitives du sujet peuvent l'amener à des détours qui, sans être des tâches proprement dites, sont des reformulations du problème qui facilitent sa résolution. Cette avancée permet de poser plus clairement la question de la charge cognitive et des coûts cognitifs qui découlent de l'environnement. L'article distingue notamment la charge de calcul, la mémoire, la concentration, le stress. Il montre sur quelques exemples simples comment un réaménagement de l'environnement peut abaisser la structure de coûts pour l'opérateur, et lui procurer une aide dans son travail cognitif .
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Within the cognitive load theory research community it has become customary to report theoretical and empirical progress at international conference symposia and in special issues of journals (e.g., Educational Psychologist 2003; Learning and Instruction 2002). The continuation of this custom at the 10th European Conference for Research on Learning and Instruction, 2003, in Padova, Italy, has materialized in this special issue of Instructional Science on the instructional implications of the interaction between information structures and cognitive architecture. Since the 1990s this interaction has begun to emerge as an explicit field of study for instructional designers and researchers. In this introduction, we describe the basics of cognitive load theory, sketch the origins of the instructional implications, introduce the articles accepted for this special issue as a representative sample of current research in this area, and discuss the overall results in the context of the theory. It is generally accepted that performance degrades at the cognitive load extremes of either excessively low load (underload) or excessively high load (overload) – see e.g., Teigen (1994). Under conditions of both underload and overload, learners may cease to learn. So, whereas learning situations with low processing demands will benefit from practice conditions that increase the load and challenge the learner, learning situations with an extremely high load will benefit from practice conditions that reduce the load to more manageable levels (Wulf and Shea 2002). Cognitive load theory (CLT; Paas, Renkl and Sweller 2003; Sweller 1988, 1999) is mainly concerned with the learning of complex cognitive tasks, where learners are often overwhelmed by the number of information elements and their interactions that need to be processed simultaneously before meaningful learning can commence. Instructional control of this (too) high load, in order to attain meaningful learning in complex cognitive domains, has
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There is much talk of a change in modern youth – often referred to as digital natives or Homo Zappiens – with respect to their ability to simultaneously process multiple channels of information. In other words, kids today can multitask. Unfortunately for proponents of this position, there is much empirical documentation concerning the negative effects of attempting to simultaneously process different streams of information showing that such behavior leads to both increased study time to achieve learning parity and an increase in mistakes while processing information than those who are sequentially or serially processing that same information. This article presents the preliminary results of a descriptive and exploratory survey study involving Facebook use, often carried out simultaneously with other study activities, and its relation to academic performance as measured by self-reported Grade Point Average (GPA) and hours spent studying per week. Results show that Facebook® users reported having lower GPAs and spend fewer hours per week studying than nonusers.
For hundreds of years verbal messages - such as lectures and printed lessons - have been the primary means of explaining ideas to learners. In Multimedia Learning Richard Mayer explores ways of going beyond the purely verbal by combining words and pictures for effective teaching. Multimedia encyclopedias have become the latest addition to students' reference tools, and the world wide web is full of messages that combine words and pictures. Do these forms of presentation help learners? If so, what is the best way to design multimedia messages for optimal learning? Drawing upon 10 years of research, the author provides seven principles for the design of multimedia messages and a cognitive theory of multimedia learning. In short, this book summarizes research aimed at realizing the promise of multimedia learning - that is, the potential of using words and pictures together to promote human understanding.
Cognitive load theory uses evolutionary theory to consider human cognitive architecture and uses that architecture to devise novel, instructional procedures. The theory assumes that knowledge can be divided into biologically primary knowledge that we have evolved to acquire and biologically secondary knowledge that is important for cultural reasons. Secondary knowledge, unlike primary knowledge, is the subject of instruction. It is processed in a manner that is analogous to the manner in which biological evolution processes information. When dealing with secondary knowledge, human cognition requires a very large information store, the contents of which are acquired largely by obtaining information from other information stores. Novel information is generated by a random generate and test procedure with only very limited amounts of novel information able to be processed at any given time. In contrast, very large amounts of organized information stored in the information store can be processed in order to generate complex action. This architecture has been used to generate instructional procedures, summarized in this chapter.
Cognitive load is a theoretical notion with an increasingly central role in the educational research literature. The basic idea of cognitive load theory is that cognitive capacity in working memory is limited, so that if a learning task requires too much capacity, learning will be hampered. The recommended remedy is to design instructional systems that optimize the use of working memory capacity and avoid cognitive overload. Cognitive load theory has advanced educational research considerably and has been used to explain a large set of experimental findings. This article sets out to explore the open questions and the boundaries of cognitive load theory by identifying a number of problematic conceptual, methodological and application-related issues. It concludes by presenting a research agenda for future studies of cognitive load. KeywordCognitive load theory