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What Makes e-Learning Tutorials Effective? The Use of Catalytic Content to Support the Learning Process PROCEEDINGS

, The Open University, United Kingdom

E-Learn: World Conference on E-Learning in Corporate, Government, Healthcare, and Higher Education, in Orlando, Florida, USA ISBN 978-1-880094-83-9 Publisher: Association for the Advancement of Computing in Education (AACE), Chesapeake, VA


Good design is critical for the success of e-learning tutorials and previous research has yielded principles and evidence to guide practitioners. While these are generally coherent, there are occasional exceptions and inconsistencies that cannot always be fully explained. One possible cause is the ‘seductive’ effect of some content; however, research into this revealed its own microclimate of exceptions and inconsistencies. A new perspective – catalytic content – is presented here. This is content included, not for its direct relevance to the learning outcomes, but because it supports the process of learning that directly relevant content. Two tutorial designs with the same word count but different proportions of catalytic content (24.4% and 39.5%) were tested by experiment, revealing that more catalytic content led to greater learner appeal and some improvement in test scores.


Ellis, J. (2010). What Makes e-Learning Tutorials Effective? The Use of Catalytic Content to Support the Learning Process. In J. Sanchez & K. Zhang (Eds.), Proceedings of E-Learn 2010--World Conference on E-Learning in Corporate, Government, Healthcare, and Higher Education (pp. 80-89). Orlando, Florida, USA: Association for the Advancement of Computing in Education (AACE). Retrieved October 21, 2018 from .


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