Web-based learning sets entirely new standards for educators, in particular it concerns such aspects as the communication between the students and the teacher, new approaches to lecturing and teaching.. Instructors in internet classrooms serve many designs as competitive as possible and maintain roles. Time requirement alone to manage the site is already a challenge.
The functions, which the teacher performs, greatly depend upon the lesson model or design, which he or she prefers.A person, who is conducting lessons in an Internet classroom must skillfully combine various auditory, video and textual means of communication, in order to make the process of learning more effective. This paper aims to develop a simple following the Instructional Design tool for E-Learning, named IDEL (Instructional Design for Electronic Learning) for continuing adult education. IDEL is a web-based Instructional System designed to facilitate course design process in accordance with the ADDIE model and the instructional design principles with emphasis placed on the use of technology-enhanced learning.
e-Learning is the dependence on Internet technology to provide learning experiences to off-site learners. Instructional design in this system is used to keep the focus on the learning rather than the technology. Through an effective instructional design process which is the cornerstone of eLearning development, it is expected that: there is an increase in the consistency between learning components; maintain effective structuring and presentation of content; focus on the learner experience; sustain quality and accelerated learning development; as well as develop a management system required in all technology-related endeavors.
e-Learning as a basic performance development strategy among many establishments and institutions has increased recently. As renowned, they are attracted by promises of a more flexible, learner-centered product that can reach wider, more diverse audiences at reduced costs, today’s training managers are implementing e-learning initiatives at an alarming rate. Electronic learning styles are determined by the existing instructional design models. However, one must consider whether the problems that arise are a result of the model used or are due to a lack of understanding and experience with eLearning, as well as teaching on the part of the designers.
Although e-learning is relatively new field of science, it has already become a subject of thorough analysis. One of the main peculiarities of this technique is that it employs multimedia technologies such as for instance audio, video, and textual sources. Furthermore, it allows various forms of interaction within a group. On a simpler note, e-learning is the use of electronic tools and technologies to assist us in teaching and learning between a service provider who may or may not be a teacher. E-Learning, however, are more than just the audio-visual tools that are already used for a long time, growing in concept along with e-commerce and e-everything-else, with the extremely rapid increase of the Internet and the World Wide Web.
The most extreme version of e-learning is introduced by those who see the possibility of these technologies being used to create “virtual” communities that can replace or serve as alternative to the traditional “bricks-and-mortar” classroom. However, the Internet requires educators to take a different approach to the utilization of classroom resources, otherwise, one can hardly speak about any effectiveness. On the whole, the designers should create such an environment, which would combine the conformability of a traditional classroom and gives new opportunities to the students. For example, we should first mentioned wide access to information.
The Analytical Dimension Of eLearning
The rapid developments in information technology and methodologies of learning have come up with e-Learning systems that are:
- Practical and affordable
- easily accessible.
E-learning project, however, needs the participation of a multidisciplinary team due to its multiple dimensions. It needs to consider the analytical dimensions of this phenomenon, due to the conceptual youth of e-learning, as the existent literature demonstrates. Zualkernan (2006) enumerated are the five dimensions of the framework of e-learning as:
- physical environment,
- available information,
- successful action,
- goals and motivations,
- cognitive constraints and learning styles.
Instructional systems design (ISD) is a problem-solving process that has been applied to the creation of training since the 1940s. “ In the middle of the twentieth century, many educators came to the conclusion that more effective instructional design models were needed. During the last sixty or so years more than 100 instructional design models have emerged each based on one or more learning theories. (2004, p.1) Each instructional design model is rooted in what is called the ADDIE model. It involves such steps or phases as analysis, design, development, implementation, and evaluation. However, one should point out that these phases are closely intertwined.
Despite the fact, that instructional design is regarded only from scientific standpoint, it also has certain artistic elements. A “science because it is rooted in learning theories… and an art because the designing of instructional materials is a highly creative process” (Moore et al 2002, p.71). Instructional systems design incorporates theoretical aspects of learning theory and practical research findings. It is often characterized as systematic, which means that each component is an inseparable part of the unity, and it is impermissible to disregard any of them.
The main goal, which instructional design sets, is to create an effective learning environment, so that every student can fulfill his or her potential. This technique can be applied in different ways, depending on the objective of the educators. Yet, there are some principles that must be followed, because instructional design is performed according to a certain pattern (ADDIE model), which consists of analysis, design, development, implementation, and evaluation. These steps are considered to be obligatory. According to Moore, instructional design comprises such steps as the statement of the main objectives, the development of the strategies and the assessment of the results. (Moore et al, 2002, p.71). Educators may take different problems to instructional design, however, ADDIE model remains the main guideline. As Hannafin points out, “we have re-hosted traditional ISD via computer technology, but have not reassessed the basic foundations or assumptions of our models” (1992, p. 50). Certainly, ADDIE approach is the most popular, yet, some scholars argue that some amendments or modifications should be proposed. These modifications in instructional design systems are mostly caused by new trends in science, technology, and educational theory (The Heritage Group Inc, 2004, p 7). Nevertheless, one cannot say that the key principles should undergo radical change.
Instructional Design Models
As Gustafson and Branch state a design model is supposed to assist learners in acquiring knowledge. It acts as a guideline, according to which the designer tailors the model. (2002, p. 1). Such model makes the interactions between the student and the teacher more effective. Apart from that, it provides relative independence to the student (Heritage Group Inc, 2004, p 7).
At first glance, it may appear that design models are linear or chronological, but it should be pointed out that each phase is closely intertwined with one another and the designer often has to go back to the previous activity, because even minor mistakes at any stage can lead to the failure. The most peculiar feature of ISD is its flexibility, which means that the instructor can adjust the model to his own objectives or needs.
The creation of the model depends upon the learning theory, chosen by the educator. For instance, we may single out cognitive, behavioral or constructivist approaches. In each case, the model may take different forms. According to Gros, design models are primarily aimed at bridging the chasm, which still exists between learning theory and practice. (1997, p.48).
Such scholars as Gustafson and Branch believe that instructional models can be subdivided into two subgroups: classroom-oriented and product-oriented, they set different tasks, which mostly depend on the time frame. Classroom-oriented models mostly deal with short-term objectives or some minor problems that have to be resolved, whereas product-oriented models are aimed at improving the overall quality of education. It should be taken into consideration that these types of designed models cannot be regarded separately because, they constitute a single entity.
The ADDIE Model
The so-called ADDIE model can be defined as a tool or probably, it would be better to say a guideline, which helps educators to develop more effective ways of managing the process of teaching and learning. As it has been mentioned before, each stage of this process is closely connected with one another. At the stage of analysis, the designer needs to identify the problems, which have to be solved. In addition to that, he or she has to develop a clear vision, and the main objectives to be achieved.
Below are some of the questions that are addressed during the analysis phase:
- who are the audience and their characteristics;
- what do they need to learn;
- what types of learning constraints exist
- what are the delivery options;
- what are the online pedagogical considerations;
- what is the timeline for project completion (Instructional Design, 2005, 1).
The following stage, design usually focuses on such aspects as exercises, the instruments of assessment, the planning of lessons and the selection of appropriate multimedia sources, which is one of the most crucial questions that the educator has to answer It is necessary to develop a specific and systematic plant that would tackle each task, set in the course of analysis.
Special attention should be given to every detail or difficulty, which can arise in the course of a lesson. It is not permissible to omit anything, otherwise, any unexpected event can prevent the teacher from achieving the assigned task. Yet, it should be borne in mind that the development process must be performed in accordance with the general plan. The next phase can be called development or assembling. The instructor needs to merge various content parts into a single entity.
It is quite possible to say that instruction design is a two-sided process, which means that it requires the participation of both the educator and the student. It is of utmost significance to take into consideration students feedback. Apart from that, the educator has to familiarize students with the peculiarities of the particular model. His or her ideas and purposes must be made clear to the learner, because, this controversy is so often the cause of many problems, experienced by students and teachers.
The evaluation must be performed by both instructors and learners at every phase of the program design. Thus, we may conclude that the stages of ADDIE model should not be regarded as something separate, because it may lead to rather detrimental effects or the failure of the whole project.
Using the ADDIE Model for Development of an E-Learning Course
Instructional Design for Electronic Learning or IDEl is model, which was specifically developed for the needs of Internet Education. Certainly, it follows ADDIE principles , but it has certain peculiar features. The main problem, which educators so often encounter, is ineffective communication between the instructor and students in electronic environment. IDEL aims to improve the communication process. Furthermore, it makes educational facilities more accessible (Zimmas, et al, 2000, p 2).
This program was first put into practice in WEB Programming classes in order to help students to acquire necessary knowledge and skills. The experiment proved that this model could be successfully used in a web-based classroom. Students showed marked improvement in academic performance. Moreover, this approach made the collaboration between the students and the teacher more productive (Zimmas, et al, 2000, p 2).
The Stage of Analysis
Originally, students were not required to possess any skills in web design. Therefore, the lessons focused on both introductory questions and more complex ones, during the lessons students were trained to design websites. Certainly, one should mention that students acquired new skills with varied success, though probably, it may be ascribed to the personal characteristics of learners (Zimmas, et al, 2000,3).
The Design Phase
The materials were accessible online. The contents were subdivided into several parts. Each unit could be studied separately so that students could achieve more autonomy. In this respect, it is worth mentioning that students were offered an opportunity for self-assessment so that they could check their progress. Each step of evaluation shapes the overall grade. These tests were composed of multiple choice questions, blank completion and multiple answers correspondence. The assignments were given in the form of home projects so that students were able to work on them throughout the whole course.. They also could test the program’s code during the course. Consequently, the possibility of mistake was practically eliminated. The instructions, necessary for students projects were published in the form of special bulletins or diary. Additionally, IDEL model helped to establish constant feedback between the instructors and students. Every participant in the learning process could make a contribution to the overall quality of the project. Chats and forums allowed students to communicate with each other, which subsequently made their work more productive (Zimmas, et al, 2000,3).
The stage of development
As it has been pointed out each student could be relatively autonomous in his or her studies. He or she could study every unit or lesson independently. It significantly contributed to the net person. Each learner has his or her own learning style and consequently he or she can take different approaches to the acquisition of knowledge or skills. Furthermore, it was quite possible for him or her discuss the projects with the fellow students and teachers. To a certain degree, it was some kind of teamwork, although members of this time could not see each other. This connection helped learners to achieve better results. The only question, which remained unresolved, was the group projects. The problem was that students often had timing problems, which significantly decelerated their work.
Nonetheless, one should not assume that the instructor could not intervene in the process. First, he could see the results of students self-evaluation, subsequently he could propose certain amendments to their work. Furthermore, the teacher could assist learners in their projects, or make some aspects of web design clearer. The educator played the role of a consultant or facilitator, who guided students.
The stage of development
One of the most significant aspects, to which model designers always pay extra attention is the convenience of interface. It is necessary to avoid any possibility of disorientation, therefore each part of the course must be readily available, otherwise students may experience significant difficulties in finding necessary materials. Unfortunately, many instruction models cannot be successfully used jest due to the some minor technical details. The IDEL model proved to be rather convenient for both learners and educators. On the one hand, students could easily get access to textual and visual materials, which could assist them in completing their projects. Moreover, they could instantly access chat or forum in order to clarify some aspects or details. Any change in the assignment, or lesson was immediately reported to them. If we are speaking about Web-based classroom, it is of the crucial importance to keep constant updates of the site, any failure to do it can immensely slow down the whole process. It would not be an exaggeration to say that warning system was functioning almost perfectly. On entering the site, each learner could immediately see recent changes or updates. As regards IDEL model, it is quite possible for us to say that each part of the website was easy to find, which in turn helped to avoid delays. Students were able to get connected with the tutors, if they had any uncertainties about the lesson or the assignment. The only problem, one can mention, was scheduling. The thing is some students may be living in different time zones. Probably, this is the main reason why Web-based learning is still perceived with some apprehension.
The Process of Assessment
As a rule, the evaluation of any instruction model is a two-sided process. Naturally, the developers always attempt to minimize any possibility of mistake, however, some minor drawbacks can go undetected. Learners, who were participating in this project, pointed out several inconsistencies in the contents of the unit. Furthermore, they proposed some amendments to the tests, because sometimes the questions were not quite appropriate for their study level. As regards the technical aspect, we should say that some defects were detected by the Informatics Department whereas others were registered by other developers. Overall, the model proved to be rather effective, even in spite of several mistakes. On the whole, instruction design within the context of Internet Education, still requires close examination because, this sphere still remains relatively young.
Instructional design within the context of Internet learning
Traditionally, while speaking about instructional design system scholars mark out such aspects as technology, instruction area and evaluation. Other researchers have proposed a different classification , for instance they single r task analysis and functional analysis. Furthermore, they focus on such activities as interaction administration, and testing. Andra Goldberg believes that ISD should also comprise such aspects as social presence, institutional policies, and feedback. In her opinion, educators should take more specific approach to instruction design. Some scholars believe that the instruction design must include such aspects as documentation, scheduling, instructor contact. Special importance is attached to the collaboration between the participants of learning process. Moreover, many educators argue that constant process of monitoring is extremely important.
Technical Instructional Design Issues and Recommendations
Traditionally, behavioral approach is recommended for teaching the technical areas of web courses. It seems to be more appropriate for these purposes because it enables to adaptation of the model to every study level. After the tools are learned, then a project-based activity will begin. The main peculiarity of constructivist approach is that a student learns through creation, however, such technique has certain disadvantages, because it is primarily oriented on people, who already possess certain skills. As a result beginners may not be able to take the course, which has been designed according to constructivist theory. First and foremost, the educator must consider the characteristics of the audience, or potential learners. Very often, often the instruction does not correspond the needs and demands of student. In turn, the lesson or even the course can become virtually useless. Thus, the educators and programmers have to pay attention even to subtle technical details (Goldberg, 2005, 1).
Certainly, we cannot state that only behavioral technique is acceptable. Overall, the choice of method is determined by the learning environment, though, the process of construction must be performed in accordance with the ADDIE principle. The designer has to take into consideration the personal characteristics of every learner. At first glance, this statement may seem rather odd to say the least, yet, in the overwhelming majority of cases, such projects fail, just because the designers did not make appropriate use of textual, visual and auditory aids. The thing is that some students may have poor eyesight or hearing, and thus they may not be able to use the site in an effective way. Thus, we may conclude that instruction design requires close collaboration of people, representing different fields of science.
Instructional Design Issues and Recommendations
The most important part of lesson design is the instructional aspect, because the instructor has to predict each step that he or makes. Additionally, the person, developing a Web-based course, needs to know the reaction of the potential learners. Naturally, it is very difficult to predict the response of potential learners, though it is quite possible. In order to do it, one should first study the psychological peculiarities of the given age group and the study level of students. Another factor, which cannot be overlooked, is the learning environment, in particular the Web-based classroom. For example, one of the most distinctive features of Internet Learning is that students are relatively independent or autonomous. The main obstacle, which the facilitator must overcome is relative isolation., because sometimes learners cannot interact efficiently when they are separated by long distances. In this respect, we need to mention timing problems, especially, if learners live in different counties or regions.
However, the behavioral approach of teaching tasks is rarely addressed and only assumed as a prerequisite for using the software. The designer has to make the site user-friendly. It is often forgotten that some students may not be very versed in using Internet software. On the one hand, it depends upon the level of erudition. There is a widely-held opinion that a well-educated person is supposed to be a good PC-user. Yet, sometimes, such belief is rather erroneous, because sometimes even highly—educated people are very reluctant to use Internet. We may even speak about the differences in learning styles, existing between the old and the young generations.
Probably, in this case, one should focus on particular age range, but not only on the study level. It is also necessary to consider language proficiency of students. Learning materials should be made understandable to ESL students, because language barrier may prevent learners from showing good academic performance.
The Assessment of a Web-course
According to such scholars as Retalis and Anastasiades the existing approaches cannot “to reverse the linear traditional model. The creation of an open learning environment requires the evolvement of the teacher’s and the student’s roles, as well as the optimum use of the training tools in the direction of changing the learning approaches and training methods” (Anastasiades & Retalis, 2001, p. 48).
The scholars place emphasis on the idea that teachers should not focus only on the assignments, because in this case, his or her role will be reduced to a minimum. It goes without saying that in an electronic environment, a teacher cannot conduct lessons as he or she does in a traditional brick-and-mortar classroom. Thus, the designers, instructors and, programmers need to make the site as authentic as possible. In the meantime,they must use multimedia technologies. Distance education has certain advantages, such as instance quick access to informational resources. While evaluating any electronic course, one has to determine whether these resources were made accessible to learners. The evaluation of a web-based course may be performed according to such criteria as the availability of learning materials, the interaction between the participants of the course, and the correspondence to the demands of the students and the convenience of interface.
Besides, the designers should attach primary significance to the role of a teacher. Occasionally, some technical drawbacks can turn him into a passive onlooker of the learning process. He or she simply cannot guide the students, and in fact, they are left to their own devices. It has been pointed out that learners maintain certain level of autonomy in web classroom however, frequently they cannot receive the teachers consultation. Therefore, many people deem distance education as inapplicable. Actually, it can be used practically in every sphere of human activity, if the instruction designers manage to attain equilibrium between a traditional classroom and its electronic counterpart.
As far as the software is concerned, it is worth mentioning that it must correspond to such criterion as convenience. As it has been mentioned before, every customer should feel comfortable while using the website. Although it is often stated that distance education employs multimedia technologies, which include text, video and sound, many constructors focus only on textual aids, and pay practically no attention to other informational resources. In order to effectively evaluate the program, one has to take all these factors into account otherwise, some mistakes can remain unnoticed. It seems that such issues as evaluation of web-based courses should be discussed by scholars, educators and scientists, because they have not come to the consensus as to this question.
The process of instruction design, as well as the evaluation of web-based courses, should involve people, representing such fields of science as pedagogic, information technology, psychology, and even physiology. In the overwhelming majority of cases, the assessment is done only by educators or programmers, and it subsequently leads to poor results. Furthermore, it is always argued that evaluation is a two-sided process, which means that the course is graded by the developers and users, however, sometimes, it is just a de jure statement, because learners’ response is not always considered. Consequently, the designers do not achieve the goals they previously set. Yet, it has to be admitted that e-Learning provides new opportunities to students but only under the condition that instruction designers have carefully planned each aspect of the course.
Therefore, it is quite possible for us to arrive at the conclusion that distance education has changed the views on instruction design, because new learning environment sets new tasks for the educators. The model must be adjusted to the new requirements of web classrooms. E-learning has become the most popular format this stage. However, the task of transforming a lesson plan from a description to a complete learning design is quite a challenge and requires experimentations as well as thorough knowledge of techniques and instructional systems design practices. E-learning provision must be complemented with tools allowing educators, researchers and learners to organize their learning material and actions into a comprehensive framework.
The model that we have discussed can be successfully applied to the needs of Internet learning. It allows coping with some difficulties, which so often arise in connection with distance education. The system provides Learners many choices available in the tool as they satisfy their instructional and learning needs and interact with tutors and fellow students. Educators on the other hand can evaluate the effectiveness of the learning system design or the use of selected educational content as well as modify if needed.
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