A “deep” approach to education requires considering the non-linear connections between concepts, which is difficult to do with the standard linear textbook format. Guided by the cognitive science literature, we designed a format for a new, non-linear e-textbook format, and implemented a high fidelity prototype. We tested this prototype with end-users, measuring its pedagogical efficacy, usability, and overall likability, in comparison with a linear control. We found no significant differences in learning outcomes between the two conditions, but a significantly greater number of participants preferred the non-linear interface. We suspect that many potential advantages of the non-linear format were negated by our short study. Future work should study the effects of the non-linear interface over a longer period of use.

Cognitive science, Educational technology, Human-computer interaction
Lecture Notes in Computer Science
School of Computer Science

Spero, E. (Eric), Stojmenović, M. (Milica), Arya, A, & Biddle, R. (2019). Learning with Trees:: A Non-linear E-Textbook Format for Deep Learning. In Lecture Notes in Computer Science. doi:10.1007/978-3-030-21814-0_31