Metacognition for Effective Online Learning
Instructional Design

Metacognition for Effective Online Learning

Metacognition is not as techy as it sounds.

In fact, it has everything to do with the non-technical elements in eLearning. Metacognition is the knowledge about one’s own learning.

It is the self-criticism that comes with conflict and argument. It is the evaluation and filtering out of old and new knowledge, measuring it with relevancy and accuracy and then internalizing it. It is also all about understanding how to learn effectively, in a limited amount of time, using strategies that are corrected over time.

Metacognitive capabilities are either inborn, or are developed by incorporating certain features in the instructional design process. Why would you incorporate metacognitive capabilities in your instructional design?

Simple! You need to create autonomous and self-starting learners, who are responsible for their own learning and are willing to share the synthesized version of their knowledge with peers. Flavell also states that metacognitive knowledge involves three keyvariables:

1. Self-awareness: The capability to analyze one’s own strong and weak areas of knowledge and how to fulfill the deficiencies is called being self-aware.

2. Task analysis: What do learners know about the task and what they need to do to complete it successfully?

3. Selection of strategy: Problem solving strategies that enable the learners to understand and comprehend new knowledge.

Instructional Design Features that Improve Metacognition

Widen the range of skills in the course

The real world setting offers unpredictable problems that require a range of skills to solve.

Learners will need to employ their metacognitive capabilities in the real world to solve such multi-faceted problems. Replicate this requirement in the eLearning setting. Provide problem scenarios that require a broad spectrum of skills to solve.

For example, create a case study in your course that requires the learners to analyze using evaluation criteria, solve using a provided formula, present using the required multi-media and defend their solution using collaborative technologies in a professional writing manner.

Teach Metacognition by Example

Lead by example when instilling the habit of metacognition in your learners.

Explain this process of self-awareness in the form of a short tutorial in the beginning of your course. Use an authentic problem to demonstrate your point.

Guide the learners through the problem solving steps. Include all possible options, especially the mistakes. This exercise will help your learners relate closely to the process of metacognition. They will be more conscious of this process when learning your content.

Give Power

The freedom of choosing a learning activity is a powerful learning experience.

Give your learners more control over which modules they can learn first, which projects they can complete first and what activities they can follow first. This generates interest and responsibility in one’s own choices.

Compare this to a situation where they are forced to learn in a strictly structured and hierarchical manner. They will quickly lose interest in areas that are well-versed with.

By aligning their learning in the order of their own preferences, learners will use critical thinking and creative thinking skills to solve the problems of their own choice.

Review, identify and evaluate

Towards the end of each unit, encourage your learners to review their learning, identify their misconceptions and attitude changes and evaluate their knowledge using small quizzes. Require them to comment on their learning process using the LMS collaborative tools with their peers.

Also, request them to share their learning and relating strategies with peers. Reflection exercises like these are the best practices in inducing metacognitive capabilities in your eLearning environment.

What do they need to know?

The objective of any eLearning exercise or course is to fill the learning gap. A pre-course survey in which you ask the learners what they know about the topic is advisable.

Also, require them to share their expectations from the course they are about to enter. This will again make your learners more alert on their personal learning goals. Conduct a post-course survey to determine if their expectations have been met or not.

Metacognition is an adult learning technique that creates mature and self-reflective learners. This learning strategy is highly effective in terms of time and effort. To reap maximum results and ROI, incorporate these features in your instructional design process.


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