The interactive online course serves to help to understand the relevant psychological learning theories and the didactic basics that can be deduced from these in order to design online-supported learning offers. By learning in multimedia learning environments complex, situation-connected issues and processes - such as cognitive simulation experiments - are clearly demonstrated in a realistic setting and can be experienced with the aid of interactive training processes. Through the possibility of being able to learn in online groups, the advantages of collaborative learning can be made applicable. The course encompasses twelve learning modules made up of lecture texts, questions, tasks, examples, case studies and links. It was undertaken as three variants: as a supervised blended learning seminar, as an unsupervised self-learning course as well as an unsupervised English language course.    

Table of contents


Course title

"Psychological-didactic basics of e-learning"

Course type


Degree course

Psychology, Education


Prof. Dr. Ludwig Issing

No. of participants

Supervised course: 30, unsupervised course: 90, English language course: 20 (per semester)




  • Blackboard
  • Interactive online learning modules for working on the contents
  • Print version of the teaching contents
  • Forum, chat, e-mail for communication
  • Group areas for exchanging ideas


The learning environment: Concept

The course is modularized and designed in a hypermedial way so that the users that have prior knowledge can individually select and navigate to those modules that are of interest whereas beginners are led through the course using the concept of a systematic guided tour. Both variants focus on independent, self-paced learning.

The modules that orientate themselves on problem-based learning are set up according to the following design: 

  1. Learning goal
  2. Introduction
  3. Contents
  4. Interactive tasks

Illustration 1: Course design

Unsupervised online course

  • The 12 learning modules are provided via the learning management system (LMS) Blackboard without tutor supervision or face-to-face sessions. As communication platform the students can use a forum. There were two face-to-face meetings: An introductory kick-off meeting and the exam day.

Supervised blended learning course

  • The blended learning variant contains three face-to-face sessions: 
    • 1st meeting: Introduction to the course structure and Blackboard, implementation of an entrance test
    • 2nd meeting (after module 6): Feedback and determining the group projects
    • 3rd meeting (after module 9): Presentation of the developed projects
  • The variant of the collaborative learning course contains the same learning modules as the self-learning course, which are, however, supplemented with group exercises and are supervised by two student tutors. 
  • The participants are divided into working groups of five students each. For every module each respective group has to post the results of the homework assigned to the forum within eight days; the other groups are asked to comment on this. The evaluation and the supplementation of the posts is undertaken in a final stage by the tutors.

 Illustration 2: Portrayal of the theory of operatant conditioning by Skinner

Experiences made by the lecturer

The evaluation paints a positive picture when it came to assessing the structure, didactics, understandability and illustration of the online course. The average time needed per module was estimated to be three hours by the students and the entire workload was higher for the online course than for the usual time invested in a face-to-face seminar. Therefore the conclusion is that the modules in the first run-through were too comprehensive. In relation to the knowledge gained, though, the effort made was judged to be adequate.  

For the realization of the course in the two different variants it could be seen that supervision and collaboration are central factors for a successful implementation regarding online arrangements. Nearly all of the students that were registered in the supervised tutorial (30) successfully completed the course whereas in the unsupervised course (90) only one-third took part in the exam. The ability to self-organize one's learning cannot be taken for granted when designing an online arrangement; offers and support with regard to supervision/peer work can therefore be recommended. 

Support offered by CeDiS

  • Consulting services for the implementation of digital solutions in teaching: The Center for Digital Systems (CeDiS) has extensive experience of many years when it comes to the implementation of digital media and systems within the fields of teaching, learning and research. We offer a wide variety of consulting services on the implementation of these tools and systems within the entire academic scope and especially at Freie Universität Berlin. 
  • Training courses and workshops: For lecturers at Freie Universität Berlin (professors, employees, tutors) as well as lecturers of other universities CeDiS offers training courses and workshops on the topic of teaching and learning with digital media. These course enable participants to implement online elements within their own sphere of teaching.
  • The Executive Board of the Freie Universität supports e-learning initiatives: With the e-learning funding program financial resources are provided to lecturers that enrich and improve their courses quality-wise by implementing technological and media-related support. All of the academic staff teaching, the lecturers or even the institutions of the Freie Universität - without the Charité-Universitätsmedizin - can be supported within this program.