Creating & Using Multimedia in Online Instruction
Design Education and the Internet
Analysis of Online Design Courses
The two areas that need to be evaluated in an online course site are the web site organization and page design and the instructional plan for the course.
Ideally, the course index page is easily accessed from the college's distance learning pages. Within the course pages, it is important that the student be able to easily navigate from major component to major component, such as from Syllabus to Assignments, and easily navigate within each component as well. One major advantage of the online course format is that it facilitates frequent review of material. The student should be able to easily return to any particular instructional item. For example, any particular lesson that is composed of several discrete topics should be organized so that the student can link to any of the topics without having to scroll through or click through all of the other topics in the lesson.
In assessing the instructional worth of an online course offering, consideration must be given to the overall instructional design of the course and how the online course elements work together to promote effective learning and retention. In his paper, A Model for On-Line Learning Networks in Engineering Education, J. R. Bourne observes that " a lecture contains all the ingredients for knowledge transmission. However, few ingredients to support knowledge reception, use, and creation are present." An online course whose web site that had non-interactive text-based pages, and whose instructional design consisted of assigning reading from the website and being tested on it, would face similar limitations.
One difficulty in assessing particular course sites is the increasing tendency to make the specific lessons of the course password protected. If an institution is dedicated to developing quality online course offerings, being able to examine even a small portion of the course in advance could be a very effective marketing tool. Honolulu Community College takes this approach with Doug Madden's Construction Materials course. It is possible to examine the first class as a prospective student would. However, since this is equivalent to the first day introduction to the course, the password-free pages do not give much insight into the actual online lessons.
In analyzing this particular course for instructional effectiveness,
it appears to have addressed most of the criteria listed above. Email communication
is encouraged among students and with the instructor. A discussion forum
and a chat feature both exist for collaboration among students about the
course material. The web pages present informational material which incorporate
video clips. An extensive series of one-page "Tutorials" are presented
within the website which are enrichment topics that relate to the basic
course material. the course website includes an extensive reference page
that the student can use to further research the course topics. The web
site also has self-check ungraded quizzes which the student can use to assess
their mastery of the subject.