With cognitivism the Teacher is still at the centre of the learning experience.  Some people refer to the Teacher as the “sage on the stage”. Cognitivism is based around the practice of creating mental maps or schema, which are used to organise and classify information(Gagné, 1985) Early proponents of cognitivism were mainly psychologists with an interest or a relationship to education and included Jean Piaget, Jerome Bruner and Robert Gagné.  One of ideas put forward by Bruner (2009) was around a spiral curriculum, which starts with elementary concepts and moves to more complex ideas as learners become more adept.  I created a small video based one one aspect of my material to try to illustrate the concept.

I saw this video in our Instructional Design class and I like the use of humour to try to engage students and to make something more memorable

Putting it into Practice – How I use Cognitivism

On my course students need to learn a networking model called the seven layer OSI model.  Because some of the concepts are new, I need to employ a number of cognitivist techniques to help them retain certain information. I try to get them to use a schema or model already known to relate to new information. Computer networks operate in a similar to the postal network. In the early lectures I often refer to a network process e.g. source and destination and then talk about its equivalent in the postal system.  An example of a diagram from one of my slides is below:

Postal System compared to computer networks
Analogy showing similarity of networks to a model already known

As  I already mentioned, the network model has seven layers and it is important that students remember the layers and the order in which they are arranged. The layers are listed below along with the mnemonic I use to help students remember, it could be regarded as a little irresponsible but I find the “rebellious” slant of the message tends to make it stick in people’s minds!!

Number         Layer Name       Mnemonic

  1.  Application        All
  2. Presentation    People
  3. Session              Should
  4. Transport          Take
  5. Network            Narcotic
  6. Datalink            Drugs
  7.  Physical            Please



Bruner, J. S. (2009). The process of education. Harvard University Press.

Gagne, R. (1985). The Conditions of Learning (4th ed.). New York: Holt, Rinehart & Winston.

Lecturing for learning: Cognitive Load




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All my material from my MSc in Applied E-Learning

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