E-Learning Theorists training

This course will be about the E-Learning contributions of three key instructional design theorists, Fred Keller, B.F. Skinner, and Howard Barrows. After watching each video and reading a summary you will answer some questions. After each module is completed you will take a final evaluation and give some feedback by answering some questions. At the end of this training the trainee will know about what the 3 theorists accomplished toward E-learning and will be able to apply their knowledge.

1. Fred Keller

Here is a brief video of the contributions Fred Keller has made toward E-Learning.

Fred Keller- Individualized Instruction Model “Personalized system of instruction”

The Personalized system of instructions has been used in E-Learning courses throughout the world and will continue to be used for its many principals.


Was developed in the 1960’s the idea behind the individualized instruction model is for the student to be able to learn at their own pace. It offers different learning styles for the learner. It is a method that is catered to each individual so that they can grasp the information better. The learner is encouraged to move at his or her own pace, they are encouraged to research things on their own. This method usually works in a setting where there are more learners than teachers. The whole idea behind this method is for the learner to retain the information rather than just memorize it.




  1. Learners should complete the work on their own, in order to grasp all concepts.
  2. Assessments should be performed at the end of each section, to determine if the concept has been “mastered” by the learner. This is known as the “unit-perfection requirement”.
  3. Learners are encouraged to use the written materials. Presentations are generally only utilized as a supplementary instructional tool.
  4. Proctors are supposed to be helping learners and to incorporate a social element into the learning process.

What method did Keller introduce?

  • The Personalized System of Instruction
  • Theory of Operant Conditioning
  • Problem Based Instruction

What should learners do to be successful at learning a topic?

  • Complete their own work
  • Work in teams

This method works best when there is more teachers than students.

  • False
  • True

2. B.F. Skinner

Our second theorist is B.F. Skinner, here is a quick video of his contributions to E-Learning.

B.F. Skinner Theory

B.F. Skinner contributed to the E-Learning world because natural operants, reinforcers, and punishers can all be used in an e-learning course.

Operant condition:

B.F. Skinner is regarded as the father of Operant Conditioning, but his work was based on Thorndike’s (1905) law of effect. Skinner introduced a new term into the Law of Effect - Reinforcement. Behavior which is reinforced tends to be repeated (i.e., strengthened); behavior which is not reinforced tends to die out-or be extinguished (i.e., weakened).

Skinner (1948) studied operant conditioning by conducting experiments using animals which he placed in a 'Skinner Box' which was similar to Thorndike’s puzzle box. B.F. Skinner (1938) coined the term operant conditioning; it means roughly changing of behavior by the use of reinforcement which is given after the desired response. Skinner identified three types of responses or operant that can follow behavior.

• Neutral operants: responses from the environment that neither increase nor decrease the probability of a behavior being repeated.

• Reinforcers: Responses from the environment that increase the probability of a behavior being repeated. Reinforcers can be either positive or negative.

• Punishers: Responses from the environment that decrease the likelihood of a behavior being repeated. Punishment weakens behavior.

What kind of animal did BF Skinner use in his experiment?

  • Rats
  • Dogs
  • Rabbits

What is the theory that B.F. Skinner come up with?

  • Classical Conditioning
  • Operant Conditioning

B.F. Skinner says that behavior that is reinforced tends to be repeated.

  • True
  • False

3. Howard Barrows

Lastly, we will now see a video about Howard Barrows and his contribution to E-Learning.

Howard Barrows- American physician and medical educator.

Problem Based Learning is a very popular theory used when developing E-Learning courses because many online are more independent learning. 

Howard Barrows introduced the Problem Based Learning Theory (PBL) which is a learning method that involves students to discover answers on their own rather than the instructor providing the correct answers. In this guide, students are empowered to take a responsible role in their learning. While the student’s take the initiatives to inquire and learn, the instructor’s job is to guide, probe, and support the students’ initiatives.


Barrow’s goal for this teaching method is to have real-world problems used as the vehicle to promote student learning of concepts and principles as opposed to direct presentation of facts and concepts.


This strategy has been proven to be effective because PBL can promote the development of critical thinking skills, problem-solving abilities, and communication skills.


Howard Barrows lists six characteristics for the problem-based learning model:


1. Learning is student centered.

2. Learning occurs in small student groups.

3. Teachers are facilitators or guides.

4. Problems form the original focus and stimulus for learning.

5. Problems are a vehicle for the development of clinical problem solving skills.

6. New information is acquired through self-directed learning.


Who introduced Problem Based Learning?

  • B.F. Skinner
  • Ivan Pavlov
  • Howard Barrows
  • Sigmond Freud

Howard's goal for his teaching method is...

  • to use social learning
  • To use real world problems

Students are encouraged to...

  • take a responsible role in their learning
  • take a passive role in their learning

Review for final exam when finished review you may look back over any of the past material and then take the Final Evaluation!

Here are some of the information helpful to complete the final exam.

Fred Keller

Was known for personalized system of instruction 

Work Should be done more independently 

Learner should not just memorize material 

Howard Barrows

Known for problem based learning

Small Group activities  

Used real world problems

B.F. Skinner 

Known for operant conditioning

Experimented with Skinner box and animals 

Believed in Reinforcement 

Final Evaluation

What was Fred Keller Known for?

  • Operant conditioning
  • Personolized system of instruction
  • Problem Based Learning

What was B.F. Skinner known for?

  • Operant Conditioning
  • Problem Based Learning
  • Personalized System of Instruction

What was Howard Barrows Known for?

  • Operant Conditioning
  • Personalized System of Instruction
  • Problem Based Learning

What was B.F. Skinner known for experimenting with?

  • Live Animals
  • Stuffed Animals
  • Plants

What was not one of Howard Barrows learning objectives?

  • Problems form the original focus and stimulus for learning.
  • Problems are a vehicle for the development of clinical problem solving skills
  • Learning occurs in big student groups.

What was Fred Keller's main purpose behind his method of learning?

  • Learners study Better in a bigger group
  • For the learner to retain the information rather than just memorize it


Was the material presented clearly?

  • Yes
  • No
  • Neutral

The material was the right amount of complexity for me to understand.

  • Yes
  • No
  • Neutral

I was challenged by the material.

  • Yes
  • No
  • Neutral

I found this course easy to navigate.

  • Yes
  • No

The tests were a fair representation of the content.

  • Neutral
  • Yes
  • No