I was talking to someone the other day and I noticed I mentioned the words “cognitive load” and they looked at me dumbfounded. I explained to them what it meant but made me think, how often do people take this for granted.
The human brain and its ability to perform complex and difficult tasks is what have helped us evolve and thrive. Our job as eLearning professionals is to engage the brain. This in turn will engage the student, allowing them to continue to learn, evolve, grow and change in new and exciting ways. To manage cognitive load, your brain needs to effectively handle the learning input.
A good start is to limit the number of distractions within a unit. Colors, animated graphics, music, narration, video, graphic organizers and other aids can help learners engage in content when used sparingly. Add too much and the learners memory will quickly overload.
Target these elements to areas where you want the learner to focus attention and remove extraneous distractions.
Present the content in order of complexity so start with the simple concepts first in order to scaffold up to more difficult and complex concepts, giving the working memory time to assimilate the new information.
And finally encourage reflection and meta-cognition to move information out of the working memory into long-term memory.
What do you think?