The implementation of on-line learning environments has become a key objective for universities throughout the world. The use of information and communication technologies for on-line delivery in education has allowed diverse learning needs to be met. New methodologies for using information systems are now possible. Information and communication technology has the potential to reshape learning environments and to challenge established approaches to teaching and learning.
The objective of this paper is to examine how understanding of instructional design theory and models provides appropriate conceptual frameworks for on-line delivery. The paper will examine key components of instructional theory and their relationship to on-line learning environments. It also shows the need for instructional theory and models to be applied responsibly to new on-line learning environments. A conceptual framework for on-line delivery that has been implemented within the School of Education (NSW) at Australian Catholic University is examined.
The implementation of on-line learning environments has become a key objective for universities throughout the world. The use of information and communication technologies for on-line delivery in education has allowed diverse learning needs to be met in new ways. New methodologies for using information systems are now evident. Information and communication technology has the potential to reshape learning environments and to challenge established approaches to teaching and learning.
The goal of work within the School of Education (NSW) at Australian Catholic University (ACU) has been to examine how the institutional and pedagogical needs of on-line delivery combine with instructional design theory and the features of web-based teaching and learning environments to provide a framework for on-line delivery.
This work has the potential to improve professional practice in higher education by illustrating how instructional design models in Web based teaching and learning can be improved. With this have come great challenges to ensure that the most appropriate forms of information technology are used to support diverse learning needs in an on-line environment.
There have been a number of influences driving universities to consider flexible on-line delivery as a major focus of teaching and learning. Flexible on-line delivery has the potential to make life long learning more student-focussed. It promises access for a wider group of students by meeting a variety of individual needs including the need for greater control by the student over the time, place and pace of their studies. Communication technology developments have made it convenient for tertiary institutions to adopt the Internet as a primary mode for unit and course delivery.
Components of the Internet and the World Wide Web are well suited to the presentation of learning materials. At one extreme the Web may present all learning material, activities and communication in a course. In this case a Web site becomes a virtual campus: "an institution or set of institutions, engaged in a delivery of degree granting programs in higher education, using technology and methodology outside a traditional classroom" (Lippincott & West, 1997, p 5). At the other extreme, a Web site may support learning by providing on-line resources or the tools for on-line discussion. In between, a converged learning environment (Oliver, Omara & Herrington, 1998) may be created in which there is little apparent difference for those studying on or off campus.
Delivering instructional material on the World Wide Web using on-line flexible learning is a challenging initiative. The uses of instructional design models need to be examined as a means of providing more flexible on-line delivery of teaching within universities. The possibility of creating virtual classrooms of learners where time space and distance are not major factors in delivery is a challenge for all educators.
Sound models of instructional design need to be developed that relate to teaching and learning, technology and management. Reigeluth (1999) has described the components of instructional design theory as "the conditions under which the instruction will take place and the desired outcomes of the instruction." These components are appropriate to be used to model effective on-line teaching and learning. The work at ACU uses the underpinning of Reigeluth's theories to describe the methodology and processes that need to be employed to develop a mixed mode learning model for the delivery of Web-based teaching and learning.
The model draws heavily on the works of Reigeluth (1983; 1999), who has brought together theoretical instructional design theories and models.
Reigeluth's (1999) model of instructional-design theory has two components for facilitating human learning and development:
methods of instruction which relate to the context in which learning can take place; andReigeluth's (1999) model is illustrated in the following diagram.
situations for learning which effect the methods of instruction.
At ACU it was recognised that there are three broad issues with reference to implementing effective on-line teaching and learning: teaching and learning issues, technology issues and management issues. Teaching and learning issues relate to the delivery of instruction in an on-line environment. The technology issues or instructional conditions are associated with the different forms of technology that have been used within different educational contexts. The management issues that are well represented in the literature of instructional technology and education have a significant relationship to the desired outcomes. The model developed addresses on-line delivery issues relating to of Reigeluth's components of instructional-design theories and the identified needs at ACU. It is represented as follows.
Web-based instruction (WBI) is a hypermedia instructional program which utilizes the attributes and resources of the World Wide Web to create a meaningful learning environment where learning is fostered and supported. (Khan, 1997, p 6)Developers, instructional designers and academics who have worked in WBI environments have sought to systematically develop models to describe their work. The purpose of the models in many cases is to develop a plan that can help others create WBI environments. An examination of a number of models demonstrates that they can be indicative of a case study, a specific domain or philosophy.
It is evident that the development of a single model for on-line offerings is related to the specific situation of WBI being offered and transference to a global model may prove to be more difficult.
Caladine's work provides excellent discussion of the features of this model in various learning environments and the requirements for effective delivery.
Reeves and Reeves (1997) develop a model that emphasises "the ten dimensions of interactive learning of the world wide web". These include (1) pedagogical philosophy, (2) learning theory, (3) goal orientation, (4) task orientation, (5) source of motivation, (6) teacher role, (7) metacognitive support, (8) collaborative learning, (9) cultural sensitivity, and (10) structural flexibility.
Welsh (1997) has developed the "Event-Oriented Design" model (EOD) that acknowledges the issues of "current and future capabilities of the Web, as well as its evolving limitations." Welsh draws on elements from the field of instructional design and distance education. These are asynchronous vs. synchronous learning, performance objectives and the selection of instructional strategies, and specification of information and communication technologies.
According to Welsh, designing for WBI using the EOD model involves the following steps:
The summary of this survey is that, models may be useful in assisting academics who are beginning to embrace WBI or who wish to reflect on their practice, but the particular models can not be universally applied.
It is concluded that WBI environments are the result of a set of key inter-related issues. These are
The model, which is developed for effective on-line delivery, will result from examining the institutional and pedagogical needs that combine with instructional design theory and the features of web-based teaching and learning environments. Each of these issues encompasses a sub-set of factors that combine to allow the model to emerge.
The institutional need to develop on-line environments has raised a number of related issues. These are, the challenges facing higher education, the institutional responses by developing information technology infrastructure, the potential "technology trap" and the way that institutions respond to these challenges.
The implementation of technology can not produce satisfactory outcomes without asking the following questions.
In WBI, the synchronous (time dependent) features of traditional face to face lectures and workshops may be replaced with asynchronous (non-time dependent) learning and communication features. The asynchronous print and video based features of traditional distance education may be replaced by a different set of asynchronous features including interactivity, on-line search, global accessibility and convenience. The features of the WBI system will depend on the instructional model developed for the particular learning material and the intended audience.
The concept of a "virtual-classroom" is frequently referred to but not explicitly articulated. Hedberg, Brown & Arrighi (1997) illustrate a model of time-place-size as useful in considering a framework, which relates teachers to learners. The model is useful to assess the desired outcomes of effectiveness, efficiency and appeal. However, further examination of the desired outcomes of on-line delivery also relates to how on-line delivery is packaged and made available to the user. These have implications for management as on-line delivery requires effective communication with students, sound instructional systems development and the creation of a learning environment where the user is supported.
The management of on-line of flexible methods will depend upon the relationship of teachers to learners in the three dimensions of:
Alexander (1995) argues that the use of new technologies requires a new pedagogy.
While we should certainly explore the features of new media as part of an on-going process of being aware of the capabilities of various media, we should also spend equal amounts of time thinking about what our students need to learn, what we know about helping them to learn and then and only then, develop strategies to make it possible for them to learn. In evaluating a number of possible learning strategies we should decide to use technologies such as multimedia or the World Wide Web only when that use provides new opportunities for students to learn - to visualise, to understand, to see complex relationships in ways that are not possible using any other media.Relan & Gillani (1997) see WBI features such as multimedia and global accessibility offering learners a more relevant education for future work places and learning environments. The World Wide Web provides an environment in which learning communities (Lin, et al., 1996) can be created by providing rich and authentic situated learning experiences rather than the minimalist (Perkins, 1996) environments provided by traditional approaches.
Hill (1997) adds that the asynchronous (non-time dependent) nature of WBI empowers both learners and instructor to decide where and when to access learning material. Mayer (1999) reports that "Constructivist learning occurs when learners actively create their own knowledge by trying to make sense out of material presented to them." The role of information technology in the constructivist learning environment is as a means of communication and also as a tool for learning. The role of the learner in relation to information technology can be as a user of the technology or as a producer of technology or media for others to use. Within this constructivist model of learning, different roles can be discerned for information technology, depending on the role of the learner. It follows (Mayer, 1999) that a WBI designer must implement learning activities that promote cognitive rather than just behavioural activity.
Gardner (1999) argues for flexibility of approach to teaching and assessing learners considering that not all humans' minds work in the same way. New software technologies have the potential to support multiple intelligences and to allow flexible entry and exit points from learning situations. Technologies such as e-mail, videoconferencing and the Web allow the teachers to rapidly examine and assess participants' work from a distance and to provide more timely feedback to enhance learning. Hiltz (1994) contends that the critical factor in determining the effectiveness of an on-line course is the timeliness and quality of the instructors' responses to participant questions and feedback. Furthermore, Oliver, Omari & Herrington (1998) see WBI as problem based with the curriculum organised around authentic educational scenarios developed by the participants. The participants should be provided with various sources of information, which they are required to process in order to construct the knowledge to solve their particular brief.
Within the traditional synchronous (time dependent) teaching space learners are able to interact quite freely for a variety of reasons. However, McKinnon, Opfer & McFadden (1998) report that person to person communication is often minimal and sporadic for distance education students away from study schools. They argue that WBI components such as Listservs and forums have the potential to promote communication. WBI components such as animation, audio, e-mail and chat can promote interaction by engaging the learners with the learning materials and others in the community. Wilson (1996) argues that a Web-based environment involves a learner and a setting or space in which the learner may react with others using tools or devices and collecting and interpreting information. Supportive collaboration is fostered within the community based on the need to solve problems.
E-mail has the potential to foster interactivity within the learning community. Ribbons and Hornblower (1998) used e-mail as a collaborative learning and support tool to promote scholarly discourse between undergraduate nursing participants. Wild (1996) argues that where asynchronous dialogue is promoted by e-mail and threaded discussion, learners are forced to reflect on content before responding with their own view: providing a means for the articulation and negotiation of knowledge. However, the feeling of isolation that participants report is not overcome automatically. The instructional model needs to incorporate features that empower the learner but also lead to cooperation and interactivity.
This discussion indicates that a thoughtfully designed WBI framework has the potential to provide an engaging learning environment. It highlights the need for a new pedagogy in the role of the teacher with a focus on the individual learning styles and meeting the needs of students rather than on traditional instruction. The learning activities need to cognitively engage learners by immersing them in authentic problem solving tasks with practical and relevant outcomes. The teaching and learning environment needs to incorporate features to encourage participants to communicate in a meaningful, co-operative manner as part of the learning process.
We also need to be clear about what the instructional design can provide. Perkins (1992) requires that instructional-design theory should provide:
Clear information - where descriptions and examples of the goals, knowledge needed, and the performances expected are articulated.Institutions need to organise teams of developers with clearly defined roles in the ares of instructional design theories. Snelbecker (1999) make a distinction between the knowledge producer to refer to those who theorise and research into instructional theory and knowledge users to those who instruct and design instructional environments.
Thoughtful practice - where opportunities are provided for learners to engage actively in the content.
Informative feedback - clear thorough counsel to learners about their performance, helping them to proceed more effectively.
Strong intrinsic or extrinsic motivation - activities that are amply rewarded either because they are very interesting and engaging in themselves or because they feed into other achievements that concerns the learner.
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Please cite as: Matejka, D. and Maguire, M. (2001). A responsive conceptual framework for effective on-line delivery. In L. Richardson and J. Lidstone (Eds), Flexible Learning for a Flexible Society, 493-505. Proceedings of ASET-HERDSA 2000 Conference, Toowoomba, Qld, 2-5 July 2000. ASET and HERDSA. http://www.aset.org.au/confs/aset-herdsa2000/procs/matejka.html