The Three Types of Cognitive Load

The Three Types of Cognitive Load

12/05/2016
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Cognitive Load

The three types of Cognitive Load

Last week we introduced the Cognitive Load Theory (CLT) and how World Learning Hub avoids overloading eLearners with too much cognitive input. This week we want to delve deeper into the application of CLT to eLearning courses by talking about the three types of cognitive loads.

Instructional design requires consideration of several variables to ensure the best learning experience is encouraged. One of those factors is cognitive load, or in other words, the information and interactions that must be processed in order to teach a given topic or process. There are three basic types of cognitive load and as an eLearning course developer WLH is well-versed in optimising their applications.

  • Intrinsic Cognitive Load

ICL is something we all experience every time we learn something new. When we learn something new, like a recipe for a new dish, we’re not only learning how to make the dish—we’re learning about the ingredients and how they interact with each other. As instructional designers, we have to pay careful attention not to ignore the intrinsic and inherent pieces of our trainings. Without carefully considering the intrinsic cognitive load in each WLH course, eLearners may be left confused, overloaded and frustrated.

  • Extraneous Cognitive Load

ECL is something that every instructor works tirelessly to reduce in their teaching and/or training. Any lesson you want to convey comes with the information that needs to be absorbed and understood. However, to present that information, instructors require some type of medium that has its own cognitive load. In our recipe example, ECL is how we give the recipe to our learners. An instructor could present a photo of each of the ingredients and how to combine them, but attempting to interpret the content of the photos would have a much higher extraneous cognitive load than a written recipe with exact measurements.

  • Germane Cognitive Load

GCL is the part of cognitive loading that we want to encourage. As the name infers, this part of cognitive loading is when relevant and useful information absorption and learning takes place. When our learners begin to understand the individual pieces and how they fit together, resulting in a desired final representation of what we’ve taught them, we’ve maximised their germane cognitive load.

Throughout years of creating meaningful and engaging workplace eLearning material, World Learning Hub has found that the most efficient method for workplace compliance training is 3D-animated stories that everyday employees can relate to their personal experiences that result in a decrease of extraneous cognitive load and an increase in germane cognitive load.

Every WLH program training course employs modern cognitive science principles to make the most of your training and compliance budget. Send us an enquiry with any questions you may have about an eLearning course at your organization.