Preventing or reducing cognitive overload

For our assignment this week, we were asked to choose an interesting blog post and make a response or contribute to the content. I chose a fascinating article by Connie Malamed ( about methods to reduce cognitive load, since this ties in well with our current week’s topic of neuroscience and information processing.


In her blog post, Connie discusses ways to reduce cognitive load that are under the control of the instructional designer. These include removing extraneous content, incorporating reflection practices, writing succinctly, scaffolding new learning, allowing collaboration (to increase efficiency of learning), and supplying cognitive aids. These strategies are backed up by significant scientific research. I found a couple related articles in various scientific journals that provide additional suggestions.


The first article, by Jianzhen Chen of the Tianjin University of Technology and Education, focused on reducing cognitive load in mobile learning. Chen describes cognitive overload caused by poor instructional design, such as when a learner attempts to solve a presented problem, but no problem solving procedure has been presented. Additional issues are caused when information that is needed simultaneously is not available simultaneously, too much new information is introduced too quickly, or learners do not have the prerequisite prior knowledge. Chen provides some suggestions for alleviating these issues such as including learners in the development of the mobile learning, providing proper access to learning resources, removing extraneous content and improving usability of the interface.


The second article, by Annelies Vredeveldt, Graham J. Hitch, and Alan D. Baddeley, focused on visualization through eye closure. Although this article was not specific to instructional design, it does have implications in learning, specifically as related to the use of reflection. According to the article “Closing the eyes helps people to remember. When faced with a difficult task, people often spontaneously close their eyes or look away,” (Vredeveldt, 2011). The main theory behind this effect is that eye closure reduces the cognitive load, as a result of freeing cognitive resources. An additional theory is that by closing the eyes and blocking visual distractions, an individual can better visualize what they are trying to remember. These concepts come into play in regards to learning when we ask learners to reflect on their learning. Perhaps a suggestion to close their eyes would actually be very useful in helping them recall more of the content that was presented. It could also help to have learners close their eyes when attempting to activate prior knowledge, so that they can make better connections to the newly learned information while it is in their short term memory and being encoded for storage in long term memory.


Overall, the suggestions provided by Connie Malamed, as well as the additional suggestions by Chen and Vredeveldt would likely be very helpful to an instructional designer. Understanding how to limit cognitive overload would allow an instructional designer to develop more effective courses that encourage rather than challenge learning.



Chen, J. (2010). Proceedings from 2010 International Conference on Networking and Digital Society: Reducing cognitive load in mobile learning: activity-centered perspectives. United States.


Malamed, C. (n.d.). Six strategies you may not be using to reduce cognitive load. [Web log comment]. Retrieved from


Vredeveldt, A., Hitch, G.J., & Baddeley, A.D. (2011). Eyeclosure helps memory by reducing cognitive load and enhancing visualisation. Memory and Cognition. Vol 39: 1253-1263.

Useful Instructional Design Blogs

As a future instructional designer, it is important to keep up to date on the current trends in the field. A great way to do this is by reading the blog postings of other instructional design professionals and instructional design companies. This is a helpful way to pick up tricks, techniques, and even theory. As part of our first assignment for EDUC 6115, I have chosen three English language blogs that I find particularly useful and have posted a description of these blogs below. In addition to the assignment requirements, I added a helpful resource (for learning assets) and three French language blogs to my list (for my own reference – not as part of the assignment). These French language blogs can not only provide me with additional information similar to what I can find in the English language blogs, but they also will help me learn the insider language of ‘la conception pédagogique’ or instructional design, which will be helpful as I hope to eventually attain a bilingual job.


The first blog I examined is the eLearning coach. This is an excellent blog with sections devoted to articles about eLearning design, mobile learning, eLearning 2.0, and cognition. It also provides a series of multimedia resources, book reviews, and podcasts on various instructional design topics. This site has been in existence for quite a while, therefore there are many extremely helpful resources presented. I hope to specifically focus on eLearning as I launch my instructional design career, so I think that this blog will be a helpful resources as I look for information to improve my eLearning practices and projects. In fact, the site author wrote a book, Visual Design Solutions: Principles and Creative Inspiration for Learning Professionals, which I had previously seen on Amazon and had put in my shopping bag to purchase at a later date. Based on the information I have seen in the preview of the book, and my overview of the blog, I believe that the eLearning coach will be an excellent blog to follow.


The second blog I examined is the eLearning industry. There are multiple contributors to this site, which means that there will be multiple points of view on various topics. I think that increases the validity of the blog. This blog has a number of interesting blog posts, such as how to choose an LMS or adaptive design authoring tool, incorporation of micro learning, managing discussion groups in online learning, and preparing for multilingual online training. The blog also has a series of free eBooks available for download. I think this site will be extremely useful as I move forward in my career as an instructional designer focusing on eLearning development. The posts are varied and take different points of view which will be useful to me when it comes to getting the best information. This blog will likely serve as an ongoing resource for me.


The third blog I examined is the eLearning Heroes. Although we focus on Adobe Captivate in our courses at Walden, a similar piece of software, Articulate Storyline, is equally popular and I have been learning it on my own to best prepare myself for future employment (since I do not know which rapid authoring software each company prefers). The eLearning Heroes website is part of the community built around the Articulate Storyline software. Similar to the eLearning Industry blog, there are multiple contributors to this site. The blog not only provides useful posts such as help for choosing eLearning characters, course navigation, and recording screencasts, but it also provides many free resources, such as eBooks, games, and interactions. This blog also provides links to job boards. Additionally, it provides a link to another useful blog, the rapid eLearning blog ( This site has many useful tips and tools, although because it is run by the Articulate company, it can be a bit biased for their software. As I continue on in the instructional design field, I will need to be aware of various pieces of software and various techniques, such as visual design, typography, working with subject matter experts, etc. (eBooks are provided for all of these areas on the blog).


The additional resource that I promised in my introduction and can help with choosing assets is the eLearning Brothers website. This website provides some free assets, although a subscription is required to get the full set of assets. These assets include templates, interactions, cut-out people, graphics, videos, and sounds.


The first French blog that I investigated is les essentiels du eLearning: un blog sur tout ce qui touche au eLearning. This blog covers a wide variety of interesting topics, such as the effect of your color schemes on your learners, creating interactive eLearning modules, Bloom’s taxonomy and storyboarding.


The second French blog that I investigated is Skillendo. This blog belongs to the website of a company that provides instructional design services. Some of the topics discussed on this website include social learning, how to choose an LMS, and the return of mastery learning.


The third French blog that I investigated is eTeach. Similar to Skillendo, this blog is part of a website for a company that provides instructional design services. Some interesting blog posts include gamification, how to create an engaging training, and online new employee induction programs.



LaMotte, A. (n.d.) Les essentiels du eLearning: un blog sur tout ce qui touche au eLearning. [Web log].

Retrieved from


Malamed, C. (n.d.). The eLearning Coach: Helping You Design Better Learning Experiences. [Web log].

Retrieved from


N.A. (n.d.) eLearning Brothers. [Web log]. Retrieved from


N.A. (n.d.) eLearning Heroes. [Web log]. Retrieved from


N.A. (n.d.). eLearning Industry. [Web log]. Retrieved from


N.A. (n.d.) eTeach. [Web log]. Retrieved from


N.A. (n.d.) Skillendo: Training is just a joy. [Web log]. Retrieved from