ET 504 – Annotated Bib

Cognitive Load Theory

Impelluso, T. J. (2009). Assessing Cognitive Load Theory to Improve Student Learning for Mechanical Engineers. American Journal of Distance Education, 23[JF1] (4), 179–193.

Author is basically stating that material was continually reinforced during the redesign of this program class, so if they went into a mechanical engineering example, they would talk about how the example related to the algorithm they were just talking about, and how it relates to what they’re going to talk about next.  It seems complicated to implement, but I do like the ideas presented in this paper.  A consistent environment in which to do their work, as well as nearly unlimited access to the instructor and course materials led to marked improvement in student performance (same final was used in 2006 and 2008).  I really enjoyed this paper – it’s clear that the authors are excited about the outcome.


Bell, F. (2011). Connectivism: Its Place in Theory-Informed Research and Innovation in Technology-Enabled Learning. International Review of Research in Open and Distance Learning, 12[JF2] (3), 98–118.

It’s so interesting to me that even research articles have become interactive, in the past decade.  Even this article, which admittedly is a bit dry compared to the last couple that I read, links to several blogs and other websites with pertinent information.  I find it makes up for the lack of enthusiasm on the author’s part, to some extent.

This article discussed connectivism as something that is more of a phenomenon than a theory – it needs more research in order to considered a full-blown theory.  He described several imaginary instructional scenarios where different theories were applied, including connectivism and states that other theories could have just as easily been substituted.  A dense read.

Constructivist Theory

Baitz I. (2009). Concept mapping in the online learning environment: A Proven learning tool is transformed in a new environment. International Journal of Learning, 16[JF3] (8), 285–292.

Concept maps are considered to be rooted in constructivist learning theory because of their collaborative or hands-on nature.  The author excitedly listed reasons for creating concept maps, software for creating concept maps, ideas for getting started with concept maps, types of concept maps, and some of his personal experiences working with concept maps as a student.  I think the goal was to first be familiarized with the concept of a concept map, and then to be introduced to using a concept map in an online course, in case you are an instructor interested in incorporating something like that into your class.

Ladkin D, Case P, Gaya Wicks P, & Kinsella K. (2009). Developing leaders in cyber-space: The paradoxical possibilities of on-line learning. Leadership, 5[JF4] (2), 193–212.

The authors run a master of arts in leadership program online and were sort of surprised at how well it went.  It turned out that leadership students like to learn where they’re working, where they can apply some of the information that they’ve gleaned from the week’s readings/ activities.  In much the same way that in the edtech program at BSU, we work closely with our instructors, these students were each assigned a leadership coach that has already gone through a program like this and is working in area that the students work or aspire to work.  Constructivist theory is referenced in this article, because students take what they’re learning in the classes and apply them to what they’re doing in their offices.

Socio-Technical Systems Theory

Wang J, Solan D, & Ghods A. (2010). Distance learning success-a perspective from socio-technical systems theory. Behaviour and Information Technology, 29[JF5] (3), 321–329.

Placed emphasis on the “7 Principles of Good Practice” in designing online courses: encourage contact among students and faculty; develop reciprocity and cooperation within group of students; use active learning techniques; give feedback quickly; emphasize time on task; communicate your high expectations; respect different abilities and ways of learning.  It was noted that a content management system with lots of bells and whistles on the instructor side is ideal for online learning because instructors are more likely to be able to accomplish what they need to with the CMS.  Socio Technical Systems Theory was emphasized, which states that task design and system design interact with one another.  This was article was nearly incomprehensible.

Systems Theory

Luppicini, R. (2005). A Systems Definition of Educational Technology in Society. Educational Technology & Society, 8[JF6] (3), 103–109.

Educational technology is a difficult field to define and the importance of having it defined lies in professionals’ desires to state that they are “in” the field of educational technology.  Seemingly unrelated to the systems definition of educational technology, professionals in this field are often referred to as agents of change.  This was a difficult article for me to get through.

Transactional Distance Theory

Benson, R., & Samarawickrema, G. (2009). Addressing the Context of E-Learning: Using Transactional Distance Theory to Inform Design. Distance Education, 30[JF7] (1), 5–21.

Transactional distance theory is kind of like the perceived discordance among students, their classmates and the instructor(s) in an online course.  If there is a high level of dialogue, for instance, the transactional distance is small.  Something interesting to note was that if elearning classes had either a high level of dialogue and a high level of structure, or a low level of dialogue and structure, the need for students to have autonomy was low.  If courses had a mid-level of dialogue and structure, however, the need for student autonomy was high.

The authors presented several examples of successful elearning models, often there was a mid-level of transactional distance.  Whether the course had high dialogue, low dialogue, high structure or low structure seemed to be dependent on the learner and field characteristics.  For instance, in an example where many of the students were working professionals, the course was designed ot have a low level of structure.  I wonder how the level of autonomy is determined, whether it is a natural outcome for the levels of dialogue and structure, or if it’s something that is discussed in course descriptions or with students prior to really digging into the class.

Several examples of successful elearning designs were presented for the readers’ reference, and the authors explained each course’s levels of dialogue, structure and the learners’ autonomy.  This article started out sounding like nonsense, but I think I found the information useful.


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