With the ever increasing reliance on IT in education, how courseware and instructional mediums are designed is vital
if technology in education is to be used and implemented successfully. The aim of this issue of CDTL Brief is to examine
some of the issues surrounding Instructional Systems Design.
for Web-Based Learning Design
|Mr J. A. Gilles Doiron
|Principal Educational Technologist, CDTL
In universities around the world, teaching staff are being
encouraged to create online learning materials. Not just making
lecture notes available to students, lecturers are urged to
make better use of Information and Communication Technology
(ICT) for teaching and learning by creating online activities
for their students. However, most have little experience in
designing Web-Based Learning (WBL) to enhance their curriculum,
although some may have ad hoc knowledge of the Instructional
Systems Design (ISD) process. The following are points to
consider when reflecting on how to build a WBL activity for
- Establish a formal development process that is best suited
for your course. Focus on meeting the needs of your students
and plan, design, test, build, deliver, observe, and refine
accordingly. Quality outcomes depend on adhering to this
- Think of the learning objectives when choosing media to
support learning. Never use technology for the sake of using
technology. For example, should you use video clips? Ask
yourself whether motion or time-based sequencing is an essential
element of the point you are teaching. If not, then forgo
using video. Your students will be more impressed with rational
choices of media types than in being wowed by irrelevant
bells and whistles. Also remember that more and more students
are accessing course materials from home and that, for most,
bandwidth is still an issue. If your learning objective
requires that you use video, advise your students that they
should access this WBL on campus through the Intranet.
- Provide ample opportunity for the user to interact with
the information. Appropriate instructional design provides
for meaningful interactions between the student and the
concepts to learn.
If you are not familiar with web programming and web authoring
tools, talk to specialists from your faculty Centre for
Information Technology Application (CITA) or from the Centre
for Instructional Technology (CIT).
The use of HTML, Java, and Shockwave offers ways to add
interactive design elements that engage the learner. Buttons,
hot spots, controls, movable objects, and data entry fields:
each has its use in instructional design. Keep in mind that
your design goal should be to encourage intellectual interaction
with course content; some interactions could be used to
test if students have understood relationships and concepts,
while others could be used to activate deeper levels of
learning, gradually adding complexity to the learning activity.
- Design WBL, where possible, that adapts to the students
abilities and intelligently responds to the students
input. Design your WBL to detect whether a student is having
difficulty with a concept or a task, and offer remediation
through extra information presentation and reinforcement,
or suggest alternative resources (e.g. other courses, publications,
hyperlinked information). Be an effective communicator.
Provide meaningful feedback to student input; reinforce
a concept and clarify common misunderstandings. Respect
the learner. Avoid any content or feedback that is instructionally
insignificant, annoying, or degrading.
- Keep in mind that students learn through a variety of
styles. Visual learners need lots of graphic illustrations
to understand concepts and relationships. Verbal learners
use text and narration to accomplish the same end. Reflect
on the type of presentation features you should include
in your WBL and whether learners with differing learning
styles will benefit equally.
- Reject and abandon the traditional linear approach to
designing instruction. In WBL, the student should be the
one to decide on which direction to take in their personal
sequence of learning. While it is perfectly acceptable to
suggest a path through a course, dictating that students
follow a predetermined path through linear design is not
recommended. Good WBL design allows the students to customise
their learning path: to start where they want, to stop and
return to where they left off, and to access items from
- Ask some students to test your designs. Follow the WBL
developers maxim: test early and test often. This
applies to both the instructional design and the user interface,
including icons, buttons, and navigational features. Also
remember that your personal views on screen layout and user
friendliness may conflict with those of the target audience.
Seek the advice of multimedia producers, educational technologists
and experienced instructional designers: call on CDTL, CIT
and your CITA staff.
© 2014 CDTL Brief is published by the Centre for Development of Teaching and Learning. Reproduction in whole or in part of any material in this publication without the written permission of CDTL is expressly prohibited. The views expressed or implied in CDTL Brief do not necessarily reflect the views of CDTL.