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My advice on designing and developing online instruction

Hi, it’s nice to meet you. I’m Danelle and I have created an online learning environment with the help of a website. The content is based on gender, sex and sexuality. I used Web 2.0 tools/resources like WordPress and Voicethread and included two story boards. I purchased WP Courseware to give the feel of an actual learning environment. So, you want my advice on designing and developing online instruction? Let’s start with the foundation and basics. First of all you need to be passionate about a subject or topic, have a certain amount of knowledge and or experience in the area, and a desire to teach students while keeping in mind that there is more flexibility with media options in online instruction as they support media elements of text, graphics (still and animated) and audio (Clark & Mayer, 2011, para. p. 14). Then you will need to understand, what instructional design is? Siemens (2002) explained, “It is the entire process of analysis of learning needs and goals and the development of a delivery system to meet those needs. It includes development of instructional materials and activities; and tryout and evaluation of all instruction and learner activities.”

Why not start by reviewing your options regarding the learning management systems, think about what tools and resources will enhance the student’s ability to learn. Next, start your framework by following ADDIE’s model (analyze your learners needs, their skills and background knowledge; designing by choosing your learning objectives; develop and create your materials, select your delivery and design assessments/evaluations, this includes designing the users interface and content to be incorporated in a prototype (Technology in education, 2011, para.). Ask yourself, “What multimodal interactions would be beneficial? What tasks should be included as DeSimone, Werner, & Harris (2002) discussed the meaning of task analysis, “A task analysis is a systemic collection of data about a specific job or group of jobs to determine what an employee should be taught and the resources he or she needs to achieve optimal performance (as cited in Clark, 2014). During the implementation phase, your design is put into action and appropriate distribution of materials to the students including an evaluation (Colston, para.). The last phase is the evaluation that consists of two parts: formative and summative. Formative evaluation is present in each, summative evaluation consists of tests designed for criterion-related referenced items and provides opportunity for feedback (Colston, 2015, para.).

During your designing online instruction progression I want you to review the Universal Instructional Design Implementation Guide. What is UID? Palmer & Caputo (2002-2003) reported, “UID applies these very same principles to teaching and learning. UID is not just about accessibility for persons with a disability – it’s about truly universal thinking – considering the potential needs of all learners when designing and delivering instruction. Through that process, one can identify and eliminate barriers to teaching and learning, thus maximizing learning for students of all backgrounds and learner preferences, while minimizing the need for special accommodations and maintaining academic rigour.” Here is where you can focus on and address accessibility considerations. There are seven suggested guidelines as Palmer & Caputo (2002-2003) mentioned: Be accessible and Fair by its heart is a commitment to remove barriers to accessing course materials and taking part in essential activities; Provide flexibility in use, participation and presentation by allowing students to exercise their options, a benefit to themselves, their classmates and the instructor; Be straightforward and consistent by reducing unnecessary complexity or distractions that may detract from the learning material or tasks are reduced or eliminated; Be explicitly presented and readily perceived through maximizing the clarity of each chosen medium of communication and present information through multiple channels; Provide a supportive learning environment by recognizing students as adult learners, respecting individual differences and fostering an open environment; Minimize unnecessary physical effort or requirements by considering the physical effort required to complete the course and eliminating any that is unnecessary or not relevant to the learning process; and Ensure learning spaces that accommodate both students and instructional methods in that must it be accessible and accommodate all learners (para.).

I know it seems like a lot to absorb, but now is when the fun begins as you continue to have control over the developing stages. Next, I want you to review and begin applying one or more of the seven principles involving UID. The principles range from the Multimedia Principle by including both words and graphics; the Contiguity Principle by placing text near corresponding graphics; Modality Principle by using audio narration rather that on-screen text; the Redundancy Principle by explaining visuals with both words in audio or text, but not both; the Coherence Principle by avoiding and weeding out additional material that can harm the students learning outcome; Personalization Principle by using conversational style and virtual coaches; and Segmenting and Pretraining Principles by managing complexity by breaking a lesson into parts/blocks. (Clark & Mayer, 2011, para. p. 67,91, 115, 133, 151, 179, 205). By this time you are about half way there to completion.

One final aspect, and it is a big one, is to review the laws and policies regarding fair use, Copyright and infringement cases. You need to become familiar with when it is legal to copy and paste images with accreditation, and when you need permission or when using a full website page or a part of it, when utilizing images but changing it in some form. There are a lot of legalities involved in producing online instruction and you have to make sure you are not stepping on any toes and that your T’s are crossed and your I’s are dotted. Do keep in mind there is one aspect that is in your favor and that is the Copyright law does not exactly specify how to apply fair use, and that gives the fair use doctrine a flexibility that works to the advantage of users (Code Of Best Practices In Fair Use For Media Literacy Education, 2015, para.).

So let me tell you a little bit more about my own creation of a website turned classroom and its development. Based on my educational background and experiential occurrences in my life what I found in my design plan that proceeded smoothly during the development stage was what, how and where to place my content as I followed the principle of blocking and segmenting into six modules; gender, sex, sexuality, discrimination and inequality as well as pretraining. I hadto keep in mind that novice learners need to follow a sequence to learn as Clark & Mayer (2011) commented, “The high degree of structure and guidance in directive architectures makes them suitable for learners who are new to the content and skills” (p. 22). The purpose was to educate and not overwhelm my students with the detailed concepts and theories. I will admit I got a little too excited and zealous in the beginning stages. I was using images from Google and free websites and was close to completion. My professor tried gently from the start to steer me away from google due to the copyright issues even though I was using accreditation and suggested I ask for permission. Wow. Talk about it finally sinking in. I was more than likely infringing throughout my site and spent two days (very little sleep) to rectify what I had done. Going back in time, I would have only used free images and clip art. I am proud to say that my website is in total compliance now. Any questions?


  • I Theodoropoulos

    You mention that in order to create an online learning environment, one needs "a desire to teach students while keeping in mind that there is more flexibility with media options in online instruction as they support media elements of text, graphics (still and animated) and audio (Clark & Mayer, 2011, para. p. 14)." This is an excellent point that I am extremely passionate about and the basis of my learning environment. I am using Google Classroom and providing students with several different online resources that accommodate various learning styles. Although I am not physically creating the tools for learning, the idea is that students take responsibility for their learning and grasp the concept that if they really wanted to, the internet is a powerful tool in itself.

    I am impressed with what you have mentioned so far regarding your online environment. I hope to work on your pilot project!