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E2ML is an educational modeling language for describing instructional design issues such as learning goals, roles, actions, and resources.

An E2ML blueprint consists of three sets of documents. Each of them provides support for specific design tasks. The three sets are:

  1. Goal Definition, i.e., a declaration of the educational goals. This is composed by two documents: the goal statement and the goal mapping.
  2. Action Diagrams, i.e., the description of the single learning and support activities designed for the instruction.
  3. Overview Diagrams, i.e., two different overviews of the whole design, the dependencies diagram and the activity flow.
(Botturi, 2006)

Goal definitions and mappings

The goal (learning outcome) statement table is an orderly summary of the goals of the instruction. It includes several columns:

  • Tag: an identifier
  • Statement: A short verbal definition of the learning outcome
  • Target: Who is concerned (e.g. all students)
  • Stakeholder: Who is interested (e.g. the head of a company)
  • Approach: Pedagogical strategy
  • Importance: A numeric score.

These goals then can visualized “by mapping them on a visual grid or representation, such as Merrill’s Content-Performance Matrix (1983), the revised Bloom’s taxonomy (Anderson & Krathwohl, 2001), or the QUAIL model (Botturi, 2003 a; Botturi, 2004 a).” (Botturi, 2006).

Dependencies diagram

According to Botturi (2006), learning activities are represented by boxes and then should be related with arrwos: The relationships supported by E2ML are:

  1. Learning prerequisite: the first action provides a learning outcome that is the prerequisite for the second action (e.g., a lecture provides concepts for the following analysis work);
  2. Product: an activity produces some artefact that is required as input for a second one (e.g., a group-work activity produces a presentation which is shown during the following class discussion). Products can be name as arrow label (e.g., *mind-map");
  3. Aggregation: an activity can be a sub-activity of another activity. Finally actions can be grouped into trails or or logical groups of actions, e.g., all lectures, or all the actions that form a specific activity in a course, etc.

The dependencies described here are not learning sequences, but they allow to identify cross-unit connections and dependencies.

Activity flow

“The activity flow is a visualization of the instruction calendar and provides an overview of educational activities during the course time span. It is similar to a flowchart diagram that represents each learner’s path through the instruction. Actions are sequenced or ordered into more parallel branches. Each action can take place at a defined moment in time (e.g., on a particular date/time) or be allocated for free execution within a defined timeframe. Splits (branches) can be added to the action flow as advanced elements, indicating conditions, options, multiple selections, parallel activities or non-sequenced actions (or any-order actions, i.e., branches in the activity path where a number of activities should be completed in any order)” (Botturi, 2006).

Action diagrams

Action (activity) diagrams “provide a synthetic yet detailed description of the very bricks of the instruction: teaching and learning activities.”. These are the most complex construct in Botturi's design language.



  • Botturi, L. (2003 a). E2ML - A Modeling Language for Technology-dependent Educational Environments. EDMEDIA 2003, Honolulu, Hawaii
  • Botturi, L. (2004). Visual Languages for Instructional Design: an Evaluation of the Perception of E2ML, PDF Preprint
  • Botturi, L. (2006). E2ML: a visual instructional design language. PDF Preprint
  • Botturi, L. (2006b). E2ML: A visual language for the design of instruction.Educational Technology, Research and Development 54(3) 265-293.
  • Botturi, L. and K. Belfer (2006). Pedagogical patterns for online learning. ELEARN 2003. PDF Reprint
  • Botturi, Luca (2007). E2ML, A tool for sketching instructional design, in Botturi, L., Stubbs, T. (eds.) (2007). Handbook of Visual Langauges in Instructional Design: Theories and Pratices. Hershey, PA: Idea Group

Acknowledgement: This article or part of this article has been written during a collaboration with the EducTice group of INRP, which attributed a visiting grant to DKS in january 2009.