Sensitive Learning Design! Boosts Inherent Cognitive Load. Eases out Extraneous Cognitive Load.


Cognitive load is a necessary ingredient of an impactful course design. Acquisition of indepth knowledge happens only as an upshot of successfully overcoming friction, difficulties and challenges. But for these stimulants, the learning can possibly turn into a damp squib.

As much as boosting inherent cognitive load is key to designing a successful learning experience, easing out extraneous cognitive load is as important to weed out incidental processing that’s not relevant to the learning task.

Long-winding sentences, confusing user interfaces, visually cluttered layouts, and jarring background score are some of the most obvious extraneous loads that complicate the learning process.

Is there anything more to it? Are there any more nuanced forms of extraneous cognitive loads that learning designers can sensitively track and design some counter initiatives that will help learners? There are, as Connie Malamad explains so wonderfully in this article. Here are a couple.

Identifying complex parts of the course and providing learners scaffolds of helpful hints so they can handle them better is an empathetic way of diminishing extraneous cognitive load.

Any increase in complexity is inversely proportional to an individual going for it all alone. Identifying such contexts and opening up windows through which learners can reach out to experts and peers is another caring way to dilute the extra load they would take up otherwise.


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