Creating & Using Multimedia in Online Instruction

Design Education and the Internet

Analysis of Online Design Courses

LAE Cripps Home Page UCLA Online Teaching Work

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Types of Design Courses Online

Use of Online Course Components


Concepts and Ideas

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.

Web Site

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.

Instructional Design

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.

The elements of an online course that facilitate retention and transfer include:
  • Frequent communication between student and instructor
  • Opportunities for collaboration among students
  • Tutorials or lectures that utilize structured sequencing and multimedia
  • Activities for enrichment of concepts presented, which include incorporation of external links and other outside resources
  • Tools for self-assessment as the course progresses independent of formal student assessments.

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.
The overall course web site structure seems to be good. It utilizes a consistent header with links to all of the major course components. The only shortcoming I could find in the materials I could assess in in the individual web page layout. However, I am forgiving of any offering in which the professor has to construct their own pages, remembering the struggle I had in mastering web page authoring myself. To pontificate from one of my favorite soapboxes for a moment, professors should concentrate on content development and have technical support folks who can assist them to produce the "look" they want to achieve on their web pages.



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Copyright 1997 - L.A.E.Cripps. This page was last updated on - 27 Feb 03