Project #6: Coherence Analysis

What is the Coherence Principle and its most important constraints/criteria?

The Coherence Principle refers to the elimination of extraneous and unnecessary materials within a designed lesson.  The principle focuses on what the instructor can eliminate from the lesson design, such as extraneous audio, extraneous graphics, and extraneous words.  The question that instructors should ask themselves when designing a lesson is “Is this graphic (music, word, etc.) essential for the understanding of the lesson objective?”.

Describe and/or include one example of successful and one example of unsuccessful attempts to apply the Coherence Principle in actual instruction and training you have experienced, especially as it might be implemented in PowerPoint-based instruction and training.

One successful training I have taken that aligned with the Coherence Principle was the Powerpoint, discussion, and performance task training I took entitle “Active Shooter”.  The presentation portion only included information that we were going to use in the active shooter scenarios.  I have also seen unsuccessful trainings in relation to the Coherence Principle.  One training course I took to learn a student information database had pictures and paragraphs of information.  In truth, it should not have been a presentation, but probably a step-by-step .pdf format.

Have you ever seen this principle violated or abused? Identify the violations, including citations as needed from your textbook.

I have seen this principle violated frequently with the use of background music.  Many of the presentations that I have viewed in this program have had extraneous background music.  These were generally created by students, and I do not believe they were aware of the Coherence Principle.  Clark and Meyer state that “…evidence points to the mental toll that can be levied by extraneous sounds” (2011, p. 158).  After reviewing a variety of studies, Clark and Meyer (2012) noted better learning transfer when extraneous sounds and music are not included.

Discuss the relationship of the Coherence Principle to other Multimedia Learning Principles examined thus far in your readings.

The Coherence Principle easily aligns with the Contiguity Principle, as both consider the careful selection of both graphics and words.  Instructors are encouraged to think deeply about the wording and graphic selection in order to convey their message easily.  Additionally, the Modality Principle and Coherence Principle are related as the Modality Principle recommends narration for complex-graphic presentations, and does not recommend music or sound effects as part of the narration.  The Redundancy Principle directly relates to the Coherence Principle by recommending the use of audio OR text, not both, thus aligning with the reduction of extraneous audio and words.

Discuss the relationship of the Coherence Principle to fundamental theories of psychology as described by Clark & Mayer in your textbook.

The reduction of extraneous elements is supported by the cognitive theory of multimedia media learning in which deeper learning occurs when presentation-based distractions are reduced.  The arousal theory is contraindicated, however, and evidence seems to be stronger toward the reduction of extraneous elements, rather than the inclusion as a method to increase arousal.  It should be noted that additional research is needed in relation to learner interest and cognitive load.

What do you personally like or dislike about this principle? Present a coherent, informed opinion and explain why you hold this opinion.

I appreciate this principle because I am a learner that is often distracted by elements that are meant to arouse, but are not necessarily required to understand the content.  I remember when I learned PowerPoint many years ago and we were encouraged to add slide sounds effects.  Whenever I viewed a PowerPoint and heard the random sound effects, it would almost always result in a class-wide discussion of the sound effect selected, not the content.  I have seen this occur now that I am an educator, as well.  Sometimes I use presentations that were designed by others, and I have found that the presentations with sound effects are going to completely “derail” any content-based discussion I am hoping for.  Therefore, I am for the elimination of extraneous effects, specifically for objective-based learning.

Are there any limitations or qualifications of the principle (caveats) which the authors did not consider and, if so, what are they?

Although this was briefly discussed in the text, game-based learning theories contradict a lot of the information found in many of the multimedia principles.  I think a designation of objective-based versus “casual”, or informal learning should be made.  Casual learning could be playing a video game with historical elements, for example, and extraneous effects may be added when considering motivation, arousal, and flow theories.  Kapp (2012) explained that game research proves games are beneficial for learning, especially when the content is objective-based.  The multimedia principles discussed in this particular book seems to focus more on online/face-to-face instruction where the learning is more formal.  Considerations should be made for game-based learning in relation to the various multimedia principles.

Furthermore, as more research is done on multimedia theories, researchers are finding evidence that does not directly align with these principles.  One example is the study conducted by Schweppe and Rummer (2016) where they determined that “combining pictorial information and written text is beneficial for long-term learning, contrary to what has been suggested in the modality principle of multimedia learning” (p. 135).  If the modality principle is found to be questionable, then it is likely that the coherence principle will also be questionable.  Additional research is indicated, especially as society continues to learn more about the brain and memory.


Clark, R. C., & Mayer, R. E. (2008). E-learning and the science of instruction, 2nd                           edition. Pfeiffer: San Francisco, CA.

Kapp, K. M. (2012). The gamification of learning and instruction: Game-based methods and                         strategies for training and education. San Francisco: CA: Pfeiffer.

Schweppe, J., & Rummer, R. (2016). Integrating written text and graphics as a desirable             difficulty in long-term multimedia learning. Computers in Human Behavior, 60,                           131-137. http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.chb.2016.02.035  


Moodle Course Design

Photo: Blackfeet Indian Reservation, Montana, 2003 Attribution: Rmhermen at the English language Wikipedia

Recently I created an online course in Moodle.  I chose a topic that is pertinent to educators in Montana: the implementation and history of the Indian Education for All (IEFA) act.  The creation of the course required me to locate quality resources, videos, and to develop tasks, assessments, and rubrics to measure the level of understanding my students have achieved after completion of the modules.

My understanding of andragogy and adult learning theory was the primary foundation in regards to the various decisions I had to make when designing my course. First, I wanted the course to be asynchronous.  Students in the course would be people already familiar with education, and therefore would likely prefer a  course that is completed within their own timelines.  Additionally, I wanted to incorporate videos that invoked an emotional response, as transformative learning theory is a theory I consider whenever I make an educational decision.  The inclusion of the TED Talk called “Changing the Way We See Native Americans” by Matika Wilbur was deliberate as the emotional response invoked while watching the video will help educators change their frame of reference in relation to Native Americans.

As usual, I considered CARP design principle when designing the course.  I used the orange/blue theme available in Moodle as the contrast was sharper than the other themes. Alignment was mostly centered and left-justified.  Repetition was important to me, so each module begins with a little introduction, the objective of the module, and the tasks necessary to complete each module.  Finally, proximity was considered by choosing the left-to-right navigation model in Moodle rather than the vertical navigation model.  Often times, educators that use Moodle have difficulty with their courses looking like long overwhelming text-only documents, but I was able to adjust my proximity to avoid this.

I evaluated my use of cognitive, social, and instructor presence, as well.  I included resources that were cognitively-challenging, but integrated those resources in with other types of resources, such as timelines.  Social presence was included by implementing the use of forums for each module.  Finally, instructor presence was considered by including a teacher introduction block.  If the course were actually live, I would ensure that my presence is included by responding to students in the forums, and providing feedback on assignments.

Moodle can be a challenging program to learn, but I had some experience from using it in my blended learning sixth grade classroom.  As problems came up, such as glitches with not being able to use certain “assignment/resource” selections, I simply used a different option and made it work by using a link to the site I was needing the student to go to.  Moodle tutorials are available from a variety of educators, so simply Googling my problem was sufficient enough to bring up many resources on how to fix certain issues.

The most beneficial part of developing this course was the selection of quality resources and videos.  I did not realize just how much time it can take to evaluate resources thoroughly.  Sometimes it seems as if educators just link to resources without considering the amount of time it will take a student to read the resource, but I had the unique understanding of what it is like to both a graduate student and an educator with a limited time frame.  Because of my unique perspective, I was able to look at the resources I found and ask myself “What is really critical for my students to improve their understanding of the objective(s)?”, and select only the resources that are mandatory.

Out of all of the assignments I have completed in my Master’s program, I have enjoyed developing courses the most.  It is a beautiful blend of graphic design and content selection, and it makes me that much more passionate for my future career in Educational Technology.

The Community of Inquiry Framework and Online Learning Tools

As I reflect on the past two weeks of learning, I realize that there are so many web 2.0 tools out there that I have never even heard of before!  I consider myself to be pretty savvy technologically speaking, but I was blown away by how many learning tools are out there that I have never had the pleasure of playing around with.  Additionally, I had never heard of the community of inquiry framework, although I am quite familiar with John Dewey and his work.  We live in a very exciting time for education, and I cannot wait to experiment with some of the new learning tools I have discovered thanks to my edtech peers.  Most importantly, however, I now know how to evaluate learning tools in reference to the community of inquiry framework, thus ensuring I choose the correct learning tool for the task.

The community of inquiry framework refers to three presences within a virtual classroom.  The three presences are: social presence, teaching presence, and cognitive presence. Social presence references the discussion and communication portion of the course, teaching presence references how the facilitator helps students meet the learning outcomes, and the cognitive presence references how students generate the knowledge throughout the course (Borup, 2014, YouTube community of inquiry).  A blend of the three presences is more effective than a classroom with only one or two presences (Stavredes, 2011).  Additionally, selecting the right online learning tools that can be used to meet the community of inquiry framework is key.  As a future online educator, I do not want to increase my student’s cognitive overload by introducing too many online learning tools.  If the tool is able to meet the needs of all three presences, that is the tool I will most likely choose.

I found myself somewhat overwhelmed with the number of various blogging resources out there, but I do believe blogs are an effective learning log/portfolio, especially at the collegiate level.  I want to remember to allow my students some choice in how they create their blogs.  It seems as if certain blogs are used frequently, but could Twitter even be considered a blog/learning log?  Many social media tools are really blogs with character limits (Hsu & Ching, 2012).

The fact that many of the web 2.0 tools used to meet the needs of the community of inquiry framework are publicly available to anyone searching for it concerns me.  Personally, I am a bit of a private person, and I do not like having to put all of my learning “out there” for the world to see.  Even having a WordPress like this one is out of my comfort zone.  I think anonymity and collegiate blogs are possible, but random people can still find the blog and comment.  I prefer to use something like Google docs to create blog posts as I have the choice regarding access to the blog.  I will allow my students to preserve their online anonymity by providing choices such as Google docs.  And, if I do require social (public) media as a portion of the course, I will allow students to use some kind of “tag” or screen name if they so choose.  Maintaining a social presence in a course should not require students to forfeit their online privacy.

In summary, the community of inquiry framework helps me narrow my choices regarding web 2.0 tools, and I would like to share some of the tools I plan to use in my future classes.  Feel free to check them out yourself, as all of these tools are free.

  1. Kaizena – a Google docs add-on for commenting (text and voice) on documents, record lessons, and monitor skills of students.
  2. VoiceThread – a presentation tool that allows voice, text, and visual aids.  Great alternative to PowerPoint.
  3. bubbl.us – free mind-mapping tool that is simple to use.
  4. Twitter – follow and view comments from a variety of sources, while posting about your education.  Name does not have to be public, and a unique tag can be used.


Borup, J. (2014). Community of inquiry. YouTube. Retrieved from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=273WuFa6Z04&feature=youtu.be&list=PLyRut5mNtP9mgWrxMyu5uNLe_ScfJTrP9

Hsu, Y. & Ching, Y. (2012). Mobile microblogging: Using Twitter and mobile devices in an online course to promote learning in authentic contexts. The International Review of Research in Open and Distributed Learning, 13(4), 211-227. doi:http://dx.doi.org/10.19173/irrodl.v13i4.1222

Stravredes, T. (2011). Effective online teaching: Foundations and strategies for student success. San Francisco, CA: Jossey-Bass.




Welcome to my EDTECH Learning Log!

My name is Carli Cockrell, and I’m currently pursuing my Master’s degree from Boise State University.  I chose to create this site to catalog the various projects I will be creating.  I’m excited to learn more about educational technology, coding, and online education.  Technology is a true passion of mine, and I believe we need to teach the youth to understand the inner-workings of technology, as they live in a world where self-propelled learning is at their fingertips.  You can read more about me in the “About Me” section of the site.