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  1. Thanks for mentioning that learning styles are basically a myth. Also worth mentioning is that there may be no significant differences between online and onground learning in equivalent courses, at least in academic settings (http://nosignificantdifference.org/). As for using SMEs, you correctly point out that an SME may not be able to “decompile” his or her knowledge. To “fix” that problem, one must also interview and challenge the SME to break down the knowledge into components. The interview/decompiling process can be an instructional designer’s or tech writer’s job. I may disagree with you slightly about there being a “problem” with SMEs. I’m not sure exactly what you are saying, but I would think that in most cases the SME should be “in charge” of the course or learning module design. This is certainly true in academic fields.

    There is a tremendous problem with internal false models in learners. False models can produce “correct” results 99 times in a row and then fail on the crucial 100th repetition — and that 100th time might be a life or death situation. This is why equating learning entirely with internal model building without reference to knowledge as it is traditionally conceived (as something “external” and objective) poses a problem that is not only practical but also ultimately an issue in the philosophy of mind and philosophical epistemology rather than cognitive science. Cognitive science cannot solve philosophical problems. (My area is philosophy.)

    The most difficult part of course design, in my experience, is designing problems or questions that are ambiguous enough to facilitate reflection. By “ambiguous,” I mean that they cannot be easily answered without interpretation of the previously presented facts and concepts, and many, even opposing, answers are possible. As you point out, reflective engagement is the key to success.


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