domingo, 9 de outubro de 2016


The Evolution of Multiple Choice E-learning

Move over rote learning: there’s a new development in multiple choice e-learning that facilitates and deepens the application of the learning and not just short-term memory. This is good news for companies who wish to develop the skills of their employees and prompt them to act on their learning, instead of simply testing their ability to remember.(Five principles for effective training design that leads to change)

Peer Instruction

This new generation of multiple choice includes peer instruction. It makes it possible to combine summative and formative assessment in e-learning, a benefit which does not occur during the one-way communication that characterizes multiple choice as we know it today. This is a huge step forward for e-learning because it creates a change-oriented experience that will take corporate e-learning to a whole new level.

"A change-oriented approach will take corporate e-learning to a whole new level"

Involving E-learners

“Tell me and I forget, teach me and I may remember, involve me and I learn.”– Benjamin Franklin

The brilliance of introducing peer instruction in multiple choice e-learning is that, for the first time, students are provided with an opportunity to involve themselves in the process, observe what their peers are doing, reflect on and then adjust their answer. This is important from a learning theory perspective. According to neuro-pedagogical research, if we want to facilitate a learning experience that leads to change, rather than as a means to test memory, involvement and reflection is key. (Illeris, 2013. Lieberoth, 2013. Mezirow, 2001).

"Reflection is the key to facilitate a learning experience that leads to change"

The Importance of Reflection

According to Bjarne Walgreen a Scandinavian professor who researches workplace competencies, it is through reflection that we learn how to act in a certain situation in order to achieve a certain goal (Walgreen, 2008). It is through reflection that we get to know more about how and why we should act when we use newly acquired knowledge in practice. But until now, it has not been technically possible to use multiple choice to create a formative assessment learning experience other than rote memory. Multiple choice e-learning has been limited to information dumping and cannot be seen as a complete learning experience (Suen, 2014).  Filling the heads of learners with facts without taking their motivation and engagement into consideration and only testing their recall of said facts makes for an empty learning outcome.

"Multiple choice e-learning has been limited to information dumping and cannot be seen as a complete learning experience"

Making Multiple Choice Matter for Participants

Peer instruction is finally breaking off its relationship with the old pedagogical approach to e-learning in use today. Adding a social element to e-learning makes it possible for participants to do more than choose a multiple choice answer: they get to explain and share their reflections about their choices and to learn from each other.

How Peer Instruction Works in Practice

Peer instruction has been developed by (today’s most valuable LMS developed by Harvard & MIT, worth more than $500 billion and accessible as open source at, with an aim to take e-learning to a higher level. The way peer instruction works in practice is as follows (edX, 2016):

          Step 1. Explain Your Choice
          Step 2. Review Other Initial Responses
          Step 3. Revise Your Response
          Step 4. Review the Correct Answer
          Step 5. Compare Answers

Step 1: Explain your Choice

The learner is prompted to write an explanation for the answer chosen through multiple choice.

This step is their opportunity to provide a persuasive argument about why the answer is the correct one. The answer might include references to a course video, or a practical experience, or describing how the learner arrived at the choice he/she made.

Together, the answer that the learner chose and this explanation comprise his/her initial response. When the learner selects Next, his/her initial response is added to the collection of initial responses by all of the other course participants.

Step 2: Review Other Initial Responses

The learner then reviews the initial responses submitted by other course participants. The course team decides how many other responses the learner will see: they might see one response for each of the possible answer choices, or a set that is chosen completely at random.

This step gives the participant a chance to learn from the explanations that other learners submitted, and to reassess their own understanding of the topic.

Step 3. Revise Your Response

The learner can now decide whether he/she want to change the initial response by selecting a different answer choice, revising their explanation, or both.

This is an optional step. The learner can submit a final response that is the same as their initial response, or change it completely. When they move on to the next step, they learn the correct answer.

Step 4. Review the Correct Answer

The learner can now review the correct answer choice and the explanation provided by the course team.

Step 5. Compare Answers

Graphs that reveal the percentage of learners who selected each answer are shared to further help reinforce the learning. The first graph, below, shows the percentage of learners who selected each answer initially, and the second graph shows the percentage of learners who selected each answer after they had the opportunity to review the explanations that other learners provided. The learners can compare their own choices, and the correct one, to the answers from their peers. (The graphs appear after ten learners submit their final responses.)

This step can be just as thought provoking as the others. 

Successful Learning is Change

To me, a successful learning experience is about change. It’s about being able to use new knowledge in practice, to develop skills and competencies and to be able to do something better than before. This is the kind of learning that leads to more skilled employees. The development of peer instruction into multiple-choice e-learning is going to change the learning landscape, for better.   

Illeris, K. (2013). Transformativ læring og identitet. Samfundslitteratur.
Lieberoth, A. (2013). Hukommelsessystemer og oplevelseslæring: Hvordan forvandler hjernen episoder til semantisk viden?. Cursiv11, 59-82.
Wahlgren, B. Høyrup, S. Pedersen, K. Rattleff, P. (2002). Refleksion og læring Kompetenceudvikling i arbejdslivet. Frederiksberg: Samfundslitteratur
Mezirow, J. (1991). Transformative dimensions of adult learning. Jossey-Bass, 350 Sansome Street, San Francisco, CA 94104-1310.
Suen, H. K. (2014). Peer assessment for massive open online courses (MOOCs). The International Review of Research in Open and Distributed Learning, 15(3), 312-327

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