Interview: Gamification

I am currently taking a graduate level class on engagement with digital technology in the classroom. Here is a 30 minute interview with a 20 year gamer about what we can learn about motivation related to gaming and motivation in the classroom.



Worked Example Screencast

This screencast was designed for use in a math class with fourth graders. I used a math rotations model so that every day students practiced the skill I focused on or practiced concepts they had yet to master. I did this with the help of one assistant to monitor the groups that I wasn’t able to instruct because I was running a group of my own. All groups had access to a screencast like the one above prior to working on similar problems right in front of me. The one exception I made was that my high achievers started with me because they often didn’t need much extra support in order to master the concept.

Here are the various multimedia principles that I could identify in my screencast:

Personalization Principle: My voice is very conversational and is presented as if I am talking with each student along the way. I used words such as “Let’s try another one.” “How are you doing?” and “You see how we end up getting the same answer?” to foster student engagement with the screencast.

Coherence Principle: No additional material was added that didn’t support the instruction.

Redundancy Principle: Since this was a math lesson there was little use for graphics other than numbers and boxing some answers. The math practice was supported with real time audio.

Modality Principle: Audio supports the written math practice throughout the video. Students were able to make use of dual channels in order to better understand the concepts.

Contiguity Principle: There was no need for decorative graphics in this screencast. It is very basic and sticks to the two concepts that were intended to be taught- Mental math through partial products and Standard Algorithm. This helped support students with limited capacity and there were plenty of opportunities to actively process the material with embedded wait time and the ability to check work for accuracy along the way.

Small group work is hard to pull off well. I loved the fact that I could check YouTube each evening to see how many hits each video received. Then I could suggest to the assistant in the room to monitor that station more closely if the hits did not match the number of students who should have been accessing the video. As well, my classroom parent community heard about the videos and wanted access to them for at home support so I simply sent them home at the end of each day as I was able. Win-Win!

Screencast Tool: Doceri


Digital Stories and the Personalization Principle

Digital stories are multimedia movies that combine photographs, video, sound, music, text, and often a narrative voice. This digital story was designed to introduce students to writing and share a bit about my personal writing journey as a young person and then as an adult. I relied on the personalization principle by using a conversational voice. Research has shown that use of a conversational voice helps a learner engage with computer instruction because, if done well, the learner views the computer as a social conversational partner. The personalization principle can be understood in this way:

  • Conversational Speech instead of Formal Speech
  • Polite Wording instead of Direct Wording
  • Human Voice instead of Machine Voice

One thing to remember is to avoid using speech that is too casual such as “Hey, how’s it goin’? Do you want to learn some savage facts about cheetahs? Let’s do this!” Too much personalization sets an inappropriate tone for learning and is a distraction to learning the actual content.

In conclusion, remember that people will work harder to understand your e-learning material when they feel they are in a conversation with a partner rather than simply being the recipient of information.


Clark, R. C., & Mayer, R. E. (2016). E-learning and the science of instruction, 4th edition.       John Wiley and Sons: Hoboken, New Jersey.

Coherence Principle Analysis

     The coherence principle states that when designing instruction using multimedia, extraneous audio, graphics, and text have not led to improved learning outcomes. According to research in cognitive science, there are three principles to remember when thinking about the coherence principle:

  • People have separate channels for processing visual/pictorial material and audio/verbal material. This is referred to as dual channels.
  • People can actively process only a few pieces of information in each channel at one time. This is referred to as limited capacity.
  • Learning occurs when people engage in appropriate cognitive processing during learning. This is referred to as active processing. (Clark & Mayer, 2016, p. 35)

     Clark and Mayer examined two studies related to extraneous audio. The first study looked at the effect of background music embedded within animated narration. The results showed that background music substantially hurt learning.  (Clark & Mayer, 2016) The second study involved students reading text in a quiet environment versus an environment that included irrelevent conversational background speech. Recall of text was significantly better among those reading in the quiet environment. (Clark & Mayer, 2016) The reasoning behind this is that extraneous sounds compete for limited cognitive resources in the auditory channel.

     The same fight for limited cognitive resources applies to graphics in multimedia as well. According to Harp and Mayer (1998), irrelevant pictures can interfere with learning due to their ability to distract, disrupt, and seduce the learner away from the most important content. Below is an example from a recent instructional coaching meeting I attended that illustrates how the flower images do not support any content on the page and seduce the viewer in another direction. As well, it is extremely text heavy. A visual step-by-step graphic would have worked much better while communicating the same information. The text was read to us as well by the presenters so there was no need for all the text on the slide.


     However, a fifth grader I worked with applied the use of a basic graphic with audio support well. This is a great use of dual channels related to the modality principle. As well, the visual applies aspects of the contiguity principle by adding support text right next to the visual it is referencing. Finally, the slide supports the coherence principle by showing exactly and not much more than was intended for learning to occur.


     The third consideration when designing multimedia instruction has to do with eliminating extraneous text for interest, elaboration, or technical depth. Clark and Mayers (2016) recommend providing learners with concise summaries instead of providing the learning material with additional complementary text. Due to the high cognitive load that is naturally experienced in technical learning, more text is not often helpful. It prevents the learner from constructing a visual representation in their head about what they are learning.

     It is easy to conclude that the coherence principle results in boring learning material. However, even before the computer, John Dewey understood that “When things have to be made interesting, it is because interest itself is wanting.” Therefore, a learner can experience enjoyment from their sense making process of material that is already inherently engaging.

     In conflict with this view, the arousal theory predicts that students will learn more from multimedia presentations that contain engaging sounds, visuals, and/or text compared to presentations without them. The belief here is that learning needs to emotional reach the learner in order for learning to occur and some sound, graphics and text allow for the emotional engagement to happen.

     I generally agree with the coherence principle, but I am also interested in the engagement factors related to learning. Research conducted by Park, Flowerday and Brunken ( 2015) examined the cognitive and affective effects of seductive details in multimedia learning. They believe that there has been an overemphasis on studies related to cognition in multimedia and more research needs to be done to examine affective processes. The key question for consideration of designers of multimedia instruction in their mind is: Do learners have enough cognitive resources free for using motivating bits and pieces of information?

     Personally, I tend to favor a balanced approach to all my instruction with a concern for the learners in front of me first. There are times when I need to use sensational tactics to launch a unit or conclude a unit to put a spark in my learners or add closure to a unit. Most of the time, I try to balance my use of text, graphics, and audio or a combination of them. The area I have to work hardest at remembering is not to include font or graphics that might look beautiful, but could prove to be distracting to learners. In closing, engagement in the learning process is extremely important. Educators should always remember that the content should be engaging in and of itself first and then consider how multimedia effects might support that content.

     An area of interest that was not pursued by Clark and Mayer has to do with the spatial abilities of learners. Koroghlanian, C., & Klein, J. D. (2004) discovered that students who tested high in spatial ability performed better on practice items within multimedia instruction compared to those who scored low in spatial ability. This suggests that how information is organized on a web page, termed “screen real estate”, can positively or negatively affect the learner as well.



Clark, R. C., & Mayer, R. E. (2016). E-learning and the science of instruction, 4th edition.       John Wiley and Sons: Hoboken, New Jersey.

Harp, S.F., & Mayer, R.E. (1998). How seductive details do their damage: A theory of cognitive interest in science learning. Journal of Educational Psychology, 90, 414-434.

Koroghlanian, C., & Klein, J. D. (2004). The effect of audio and animation in multimedia instruction. Journal of Educational Multimedia and Hypermedia, 13(1), 23-46.

Park, B., Flowerday, T., & Brünken, R. (March 01, 2015). Cognitive and affective effects of seductive details in multimedia learning. Computers in Human Behavior, 44, 267-278.

The Modality Principle: A Narrated Presentation

I created a narrated presentation based on Chapter 6, Applying the Modality Principle, from Clark & Mayers book titled e-Learning and the Science of Instruction. In brief, the modality principle focuses on presenting words as speech rather than on-screen text to accompany graphics or animation.

My narrated presentation consists of one sketchnote slide with added narration along the way. Click on the purple box in the lower left of the slide for my narration. I included the two recommendations that Clark & Mayer suggest are representative of good e-Learning:

  1. Use of brief audio narration to explain on-screen graphics.
  2. Use of printed text for information that learners will need as reference for technical terms and less familiar material.

Project 2: Static Multimedia Instruction


I used the Clarify-it tool to create a step-by-step tutorial to show teachers how to add an image search to their class website so that students can use fair use images in their projects and easily include proper attribution.

This instruction was designed for teachers who prefer directing students to a class website with pre-selected tools for students to use as they complete projects in class. Students should begin to understand fair use rules from the time they begin using images and videos.

View the tutorial.

Clarify-it supports the multimedia principle because it is designed to help you select the exact image you would like to highlight and add brief text to make your point. Secondly, it makes it easy to organize the images and text because there is no need to save the images to a folder along the way. They are added directly to a new slide for you. Finally, these built in supports reduce extraneous processing so that the learner can integrate the information along the way and apply it as needed (generative processing).

Haiku Deck

Here is my Google Draw presentation using Haiku Deck.

This is the fourth time I have used Haiku Deck for a presentation. I first encountered it in Edtech 501 when we did a presentation on the digital divide. I like Haiku Deck for its strong visual appeal. I often can find something I like within the images they have available. It forces you to be a tad more abstract instead of creating a more concrete presentation which can be less interesting to the audience.

There are times that I struggle with its simplicity, but really that is its strength. The creator of the presentation is forced to zero in visually on what matters most in the presentation. As well, the audience can focus on listening since there usually is one main image to concentrate on per slide instead of lots of distracting images and text.



I created this sketchnote based on questions related to Chapter 4 in e-Learning and the Science of Instruction by Clark and Mayers, 2016.

Prompt: Why does the multimedia principle work best for novices? Should you change static illustrations into animations? What do we still not know about visuals?

Tool: Paper by FiftyThree

I have been using this app for about two years now. I love it for doodling and since I try to do something creative for at least ten minutes a day, it is a great tool to meet this goal. I used an apple pencil for this sketchnote, but I am also fine using my inexpensive targus.

My challenges with sketchnoting have to do with focusing too much on the design rather than the content. Sketchnoting is meant to be fairly quick and I get caught up in the overall look of the design and it is difficult to stop tinkering with it. I do find that sketchnoting helps me summarize the most important information and once I make one the information is committed to memory compared to simply reading a chapter and reflecting on it. I have not tried sketchnoting during a lecture. This would likely force me to sketchnote properly because there isn’t time to play around with the design.

This assignment meets the AECT Standard 3: Learning Environments

Creating instructional design products based on learning principles and research-based best practices.

I created this sketchnote based on the course textbook by Clark & Mayer, titled e-learning and the Science of Instruction. The sketchnote represents an original design that summarizes part of chapter 4 and addresses the questions listed at the beginning of this post. Research states that images connected to nearby text supports learners. Recall is stronger when images are present and the creation of the sketchnote itself requires a high depth of knowledge called Strategic Thinking.


Final Course Reflection

Course Reflection

I revisited my very first blog post on my vision for educational technology. I still stand by my belief that technology enhances student agency. However, the depth of my understanding about how to accomplish a sense of agency with all learners has greatly deepened as a result of taking this course.

Examining the relative advantages of instructional technology taught me to pause and consider how technology can be an enhancement or distraction from the learning task. I was familiar with the benefits of tutorials and drill and practice, but I learned more about the role that simulations and problem solving software can offer.

One of my biggest stretches in learning was when we explored the benefits of spreadsheets. Not only did I learn how to use them as an educator and with students, I also discovered through conversations with my colleagues that spreadsheets are a primary tool for organization.

I really enjoyed learning to use screencasting tools. I’ve spent the last few years trying to improve my video communication, and overall presence on camera while planning, creating, and editing with multi-media teaching tools. I believe in the power of this learning option when done well. The more you practice, the faster and better you get!

Another aspect of this online course that was eye opening was hearing from other educators from across the United States about their district’s stance on walled gardens. I would not have had the same perspective if we discussed this topic in a college course within my state. The field of educational technology is so wide and uncharted that I can see why some teachers feel scared to even dip their toe into the water to get started. I’m learning in my role of working with adult learners that adults are not always that flexible or open to new ideas or trying things out as I am. Using technology in the classroom, for the long haul, has more to do with helping others adopt a certain mindset then it has to do with giving teachers technology and apps to try out and expecting it to take off.

Finally, it was a good challenge to take one subject matter and look at it through three lenses: interdisciplinary, technology and accessibility.  There is so much to consider in teaching that I have a new appreciation for the learning curve of our new teachers or even our veteran teachers who are trying to keep up with the times.

This course has made me realize that I need to observe and listen a lot this year. Teachers will provide me with all the information I need about how to take next steps based on where each teacher is and their willingness to move forward with technology. Even though I feel like my understanding of educational technology is light years away from where my staff is, I bring a level of calm and confidence about where we are going having been on this journey myself in the classroom and through graduate coursework.

Thanks to the The Association for Educational Communications and Technology (AECT) standards, I feel I have grown the most in content knowledge, content pedagogy, and professional knowledge and skills. I am now better prepared to create, use, and assess effective use of technology in the classroom. Due to the depth of the course blog work and content project, I am more reflective about the implementation of educational technology. Most importantly, I continue to develop my professional skills in this field by working in a supportive and collaborative online environment with other educators willing to share and learn with each other.

Self Assessment: Blog


Content: 70/70

I put a great deal of time and thought into each blog post and project assignment. I frequently sought out new research which is included in my resources page and references for the related post.

Readings & Resources: 18/20

I cited the course textbook as well as other research and used APA formatting on all but one blog post.

Timeliness: 20/20

I always completed my blog posts prior to completing my project assignment which provided classmates at least two days to read and respond before the next module.

Responses to Other Students: 30/30

I always made sure to elaborate on one response and point out positives or connections in the other.