Increasing learner interactions with E-learning systems can either decrease or increase cognitive load depending on the nature of the interaction

By Ali Darejeh, Nadine Marcus, John Sweller

The effects of increasing interactions between learners and digitally presented subject matter were investigated in Experiment 1 while increasing interactions via a pedagogical agent were investigated in Experiment 2. In Experiment 1, we compared an E-learning system with and without interactive animation to teach software applications to novice users. Interactive animation was found to significantly decrease cognitive load in the learning phase for both low and high element interactivity materials, however, it did not have a significant effect on test task performance. The positive effects of an interactive animation may suggest that embodied cognition effects establish links between mind and body allowing movement to support cognitive tasks. In Experiment 2, interactions between the subject matter and learners were increased by introducing a talking, animated avatar that did not require any additional activity by learners, eliminating embodied cognitive effects. The results showed that when the avatar was used in conjunction with other visual elements, it increased learners’ cognitive load due to the redundancy effect, especially for high element interactivity materials.

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