Research-Based Solutions to Three Problems in Web-Based Training
The design of Web-based training should be based on scientific research and grounded in a cognitive theory of how people learn. In this chapter, I examine three classic problems in the design of Web-based lessons: (a) The material is presented in a way that is insensitive to the learner’s cognitiveprocessing system, (b) the content is inherently difficult for the learner, and (c) the material is presented in a way that is unfriendly to the learner. On the basis of the cognitive theory of multimedia learning (Mayer, 2001, 2005a; Mayer & Moreno, 2003) and on a body of scientifically rigorous empirical research involving approximately 80 experimental comparisons (Mayer, 2001, 2005b, 2005c, 2005d), I describe solutions to each e-learning problem. When the material is presented in an insensitive way, the solutions include weeding (in which extraneous words, sounds, and graphics are eliminated), decaptioning (in which presentations consist of animation and narration rather than animation, narration, and on-screen text), signaling (in which essential words and graphics are highlighted), aligning (in which corresponding words and graphics are presented near rather than far from each other on the page or screen), and synchronizing (in which corresponding narration and animation are presented simultaneously rather than successively). When the content is difficult, the solutions include segmenting (in which a lesson is broken into segments that can be paced by the learner rather than given as a continuous presentation), pretraining (in which the learner is given pretraining in the names and characteristics of the key concepts before the lesson), and off-loading (in which material is presented as graphics and spoken text rather than graphics and printed text). When the material is presented in an unfriendly way, the solutions include personalizing (in which the words are presented in a conversational style using I and you rather than formal style) and articulating (in which the words are spoken in a clear human voice rather than a machine voice). Well-designed Web-based training can result in large
improvements in learners’ performance on tests of transfer in which they are able to use what was taught to solve new problems.