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22st Annual OLC International Conference
November 16-18, 2016 | Orlando, Florida | Walt Disney World Swan/Dolphin Resort

OLC Innovate 2016 - Innovations in Blended and Online Learning
April 20-22, 2016 | New Orleans, LA | Sheraton New Orleans Hotel

Implementing a Cognitive Framework for Online Learning: Bringing Theory to Practice

Michelle D. Miller (Northern Arizona University, USA)
John McDonald, Jr. (Rhizome Learn LLC, USA)
Session Information
October 15, 2015 - 9:15am
Learning Effectiveness
Major Emphasis of Presentation: 
Practical Application
Major Emphasis of Presentation: 
Theory/Conceptual Framework
Institutional Level: 
Universities and Four Year Institutions
Audience Level: 
Session Type: 
Featured Session
Southern Hemisphere II
Session Duration: 
45 Minutes
Concurrent Session 5
Virtual Session

Learn how to use technology to achieve the cognitive framework for learning laid out in the lead presenter's book Minds Online: Teaching Effectively with Technology.

Extended Abstract

The abundance of instructional technologies available to us creates many opportunities, but also a new problem: How do we choose? With no framework or coherent set of objectives, selecting the right technology for the right context can easily become overwhelming, even for experienced faculty and instructional designers. Additionally, having a compelling rationale for selecting a given technology can help us gain buy-in from key stakeholders. Administrators, faculty colleagues, students themselves - all are more likely to support our online learning agendas when they are backed with evidence and theory about how human beings learn.

One way to bring structure, focus and a persuasive evidence base to technology selection is through a cognitive framework for learning, such as the one proposed in the book Minds Online: Teaching Effectively with Technology (Harvard University Press, 2014). Cognitive concepts including attention, memory, and higher thought processes can all help guide us in our search for the best technologies. In this interactive session, Minds Online author Michelle Miller will present key aspects of the cognitive framework, as well as guiding questions to shape course design. Then, instructional technology specialist J. Richard McDonald will identify and demonstrate specific tools and technologies that address each component of the framework. Through this "why and how" presentation, attendees will build the ability to optimize technology choices, learn about the latest and best tools, and become more effective advocates for technology in education.

Lead Presenter

Michelle D. Miller (Ph.D., University of California, Los Angeles) is a Professor of Psychology and Co-Director of the First Year Learning Initiative, University College, at Northern Arizona University. Dr. Miller's academic background is in cognitive psychology and behavioral neuroscience, with specializations in memory and language. Dr. Miller's current scholarly interests include applied memory research, evidence-based pedagogy, and learning in foundational, first-year college courses. Dr. Miller helped create the First-Year Learning Initiative at Northern Arizona University and is also active in course redesign, serving as a Redesign Scholar for the National Center for Academic Transformation (NCAT) and as the leader of the NAU Course Redesign Team. She currently serves as a President's Distinguished Teaching Fellow at NAU. Dr. Miller has published her work on evidence-based pedagogy in Teaching of Psychology, College Teaching, Journal of Online Learning and Teaching and Change: The Magazine of Higher Learning. Her work was profiled in 2011 by teaching expert James Lang in a two-part series in the Chronicle of Higher Education.


John McDonald, Jr. (Rhizome Learn LLC, USA)


Questions asked by the Virtual Audience but unanswered during the live session, have been answered by the presenter below: 


Q. What is the URL for the Attention Matters tool?

A. Thanks for your interest in the module! Currently, I do like to work directly with people who want to try it, so there is not one central URL. However, if you’ll email me at michelle.miller@nau.edu, I can distribute those to you. It’s helpful if you can let me know in that email what LMS you use. Thanks again and feel free to get in touch! - Michelle Miller