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Instructional design lies at the intersection of education, psychology and, more recently, neuroscience. The eLearning Wiki is organized according to the following structure. Consider it an online textbook for instructors and instructional designers.

άγω (ágō)

From the Greek, "to lead", ágō forms the root of both pedagogy (leading child) and andragogy (leading man). Although in use since the ancient Greeks, modern usage of pedagogy appeared around 1580 in France. The Greeks used the term pedagogue to signify a person who looked after young children, whereas it later evolved to indicate a teacher of young children. German philosopher Johann Fredrich Herbart (1776-1841) is often identified as the father of scientific pedagogy (Merrill, 2013). He developed a philosophy of mind and pioneered a new theory of education stressing the study of the psychological processes of learning as a means of devising educational programs.

The term andragogy was first coined by German educator Alexander Kapp in 1833, and referring to teaching strategies focused on students of higher education, adults rather than children. Adopted and popularized in the United States by Malcolm Knowles during the 1950s, andragogy emphasizes the agency of the adult learner in acquiring knowledge and skills. This approach is contrasted with pedagogy in which instruction and direction comes from an authority such as teacher or professor.

In practice, pedagogy and andragogy constitute two ends of a continuum ranging from very directive (teacher/content-centered) to very non-directive (learner-centered) instructional practices. Knowles (2005) himself evolved to consider both approaches appropriate to both children and adults, depending on context and goals of instruction. Today, pedagogy is often used as the general term to describe the entire continuum.


The wiki is organized as a heuristic, a tool for investigating the body of knowledge surrounding teaching and learning rather than serving as a design model. Design models are examined in a separate article. The content is divided into modules, sections, and articles. An important goal will be to provide linkage between the various theories, concepts, and practices within the heuristic.


Examining, critiquing, and committing to a set of core principles, theories, and practices that support both design and teaching practices. Four big ideas are explored: how learning occurs, core concepts, standards, and philosophy of teaching and learning.

Teaching online

Managing the learning process, supporting the whole learner, enforcing policy, and acting on learner feedback.

Course development

Conceptually creating and documenting the course design, testing prototypes, and then building and organizing course components into a unified whole. Project management is integral to the development process. Continuous improvement refines and strengthens the original design.

Brain enhancement

With the many advances being made in neuroscience, we are finding some interesting properties of the brain and its functions that can be manipulated in order to increase certain capabilities. Methods include brain training, various forms of chemical and genetic manipulation, direct and transcranial stimulation, nootropics, and neurofeedback. It's a brave new world.

The idea

This wiki is dedicated to identifying, defining, and communicating about instructional practices, especially online practices, proven to result in real learning that can be put to practical use in the real world. Just as learners are varied and individualistic, so too are the practices that aid their learning. Generally, these practices should be based in theory and research although many of the newer approaches have not been around long enough for this to happen.

While there are a multitude of factors that affect teaching, learning, education, and training, the focus here is on "aggos" - the theory and application of teaching principles. Administrative, philosophical, political, structural, technological and all manner of issues do impact teaching in profound ways. However, they also cloud the issue of teaching practices and are better dealt with elsewhere.

More recently, innovations in neuroscience have uncovered a lot of the mystery of how the brain does its work. While the physical brain is composed of various cortices and nuclei, it is neural networks, linking them together, functioning at various wave oscillations (brainwaves) that enables the brain's capabilities. In some ways, it appears that applying neuroscience to learning and memory offers the most promise for the advancement of the learning enterprise.



Teaching online

Brain enhancement

The future

Course development

Instructional design models

Project management primer

Course design

Course building

Assemble the whole

Test & review