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The Learning Conference 2003

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Presentation Details


Foundation for Structure: A Learning-Theory Approach to Instructional Design for e-Learning

M.R. de Villiers.

The role of technology in learning must be subservient to the learning objectives. With the expansion of e-learning, educators and designers of instruction should view technology as a tool and a medium, but not as the message. This paper proposes a theoretical foundation for the design and development of interactive learning environments and instructional systems. A six-sided approach, the Hexa-C Metamodel, integrates concepts from contemporary learning theory into a framework which serves as a design aid and for evaluating existing resources. Three of the elements: constructivism, cognitive learning theory and components, are primarily theoretical, while the others: collaborative learning, creativity and customisation, are more practical aspects that support effective learning. The metamodel has been empirically validated in diverse systems, using triangulated data, both qualitative and quantitative.

In the paper each element is defined and guidelines given regarding its application in different situations, distinguishing between well-structured and ill-structured learning domains. The design and implementation of varied e-learning systems can be enhanced by considering these six elements and explicitly applying those appropriate to the content and context.


M.R. de Villiers  (South Africa)
Associate Professor
Department of Computer Science and Information Systems
University of South Africa

Ruth de Villiers is an associate professor in the School of Computing at the University of South Africa, a distance-learning institution. She obtained a PhD in Computer-Integrated Education, with a thesis on the dynamics of theory and practice in the design of instructional systems. Her main research interest is the usability of e-learning systems.

  • E-learning
  • Learning theory
  • Instructional design
  • Interactive learning environment

(30 min Conference Paper, English)