MET:Web-Based Strategies

From UBC Wiki

This page authored by Joey Dabell (2008) edited by Mike Rybachuk (2011)

Web strategies take advantage of multi-dimensional capabilities of new media.

Web-based strategies for e-learning can be applied in both face-to-face, and distance learning environments (Anderson, 2004). Web strategies take advantage of the socio-cultural aspects of the web, and multi-dimensional aspects like hyper-text, audio, and video. Web-based strategies can incorporate a variety of Learning Objects, media, and tools including websites, video, animation, blogs, wikis, course management systems, discussion forums, games, and simulations. The instructor’s role in web-based strategies becomes one of guiding students in the process of knowledge building. The learner is an active participant in manipulating and creating knowledge. Learner relationships broaden to involve instructors, content media, other students, and external experts (Anderson, 2004).

Implications for Instruction

Effective web-based strategies for learners are the key to accessing the evolving body of knowledge that exists on the internet. These strategies are grounded in theories of Connectivism, and Sociocultural-Constructivist learning theories, and cover a variety of instructional approaches. In general, the focus is learner-centred, and is geared towards critical thinking, understanding and applying knowledge, reflection, and self-regulation.

Applying web-based technologies for education requires new ways of thinking about the learning process and how learners create knowledge. Web technologies and learning theories must be applied in ways that align with educational goals, and in ways that marry the qualities of the web with the new theories of learning. One approach to thinking about web-based instruction is to consider learning objectives in terms of a framework of the types of communication, interactivities, and tools similar to the diagram shown to the left.

When applying learning theories to web-based environments some key goals should be to help students establish connections to experts, peers, and evolving bodies of knowledge, to construct their own knowledge base, and to reach beyond school into real-world situations. To support these goals web-based learning environments need to support social negotiation, meaningful learning, ownership in learning, knowledge creation, loosely defined problem situations, and multiple perspectives (Driscoll, 2005).

Social Negotiation

Information and communication technologies (ICT) like discussion forums and weblogs can encourage reflection, and support learners in critical thinking, developing multiple perspectives, and knowledge creation. Online learning communities help to provide learners with a greater identity (Scardemalia & Bereiter, 1994), by connecting individuals with a larger practice community. Web-based learning environments should engage learners through a mix of asynchronous and synchronous communication technologies. Asynchronous technologies include Educational Blogging, use of Wikis in Education, and e-mail. Synchronous technologies include live chat, video-conferencing, and voice-over-internet.

Meaningful Experience

Learning is maximized when it is embedded in complex environments that are meaningful to the learner (Driscoll, 2005). The web provides opportunities for learners to participate in authentic learning experiences. Websites and learning communities can take the form of practice fields that take students outside of the school environment (Barab & Duffy, 2000), and enable them to work along side practitioners to explore real-world situations.

Ownership in Learning

New learning theories change the role of teacher from one of transfering knowledge to students, to one of guiding students in creating their own knowledge. The distributed nature of the web environment also helps to supports learners develop knowledge through their own experiences, and through formative feedback and the process of accepting or rejecting the perspectives of others (Lalueza, Bria, Crespo, Sanchez & Luque, 2004).

Knowledge Creation

The psychological processes used by researchers to create new knowledge and the process used by students who learn from existing knowledge are similar (Scardemalia & Bereiter, 1994). The web as a teaching tool can support students by developing self-awareness in knowledge creation. Effective application of web strategies can provide an environment where learners come to understand how assumptions or varying perspectives shape their own knowledge construction process. Web sites and Communities of Practice can involve students from around the world in shared Problem-Based Learning. Hypermedia including hypertext links, mouse-over text, and pop-ups provide engaging ways to scaffold learners in their knowledge creation process.

Multiple Perspectives

The web provides an environment that enables learners to cross social, cultural, political, and geographical boundaries in their pursuit of knowledge. Web environments condense geographic and time constraints, and open the potential for exploratory learning. Learners can experience a sense of both local and international cultures, communities, and issues. The hypermedia environment of the web provides links between text, video, and audio to deliver multi-sensory input, and to enable learners to travel virtually anywhere at a single click.

Web-Based Design Challenges

The use of E-Learning is open to both praise and criticism. The use of computer-aided instruction offers many innovative ways of delivering classroom instruction in stimulating and innovative ways. Industry is finding the asynchronous nature of E-Learning to be of major benefit, both for its ability to educate and retrain employees across the globe, but also for the collaborative affordances. While the initial cost of producing information is high, reproduction is relatively cheep, leading to a high degree of cost effectiveness for both education and industry. While the design and implementation of E-Learning may still be in its infancy, many agencies continue to use and experiment with the power of E-Learning.

Layer Model

In order for any Instructional Design ID technique or model to be functional, it must exhibit certain qualities of purpose and design. Many ID models adhere to ARCS:, Attention, Relevance, Confidence, and Satisfaction. The Layer Model, first introduced by Katsuaki Suzuki,[1] is presented in five layers.

  1. No Pain: If a Web-Based Strategy is to be effective, it must ensure users are free of pain and frustration. Issues such as bandwidth, video and audio quality, and service stability are crucial components of user interface.
  2. No Deception: All the content resented must be valid, accurate, and reliable if it is to maintain usability. The use of subject matter experts is essential in this layer, as student and job-related knowledge users enter with high demands of proficiency.
  3. Operability: or usability ensures ease of navigation and conformity of layout through the content, and within the layers. The lack of technical writing links usability with motivation, by avoiding frustration with the tool itself.
  4. Effectiveness: One of the major goals of all E-Learning is to have learners obtain their learning goals. By maximizing learner characteristics with task requirements, the ID becomes most effective.
  5. Appeal: The key of E-Learning is to keep learners motivated to learn, and to be engaged in learning. Web-Based learning must be appealing to the learner, offer a sense of belonging to the act of learning, even when the learning task is a required on.

Design Characteristics

Much continues to be written about Web-Based learning. What constitutes a good design or addresses optimal learning is encased in volumes of research and opinion. Two of many such ideas are presented here to create context to this issue. The first is presented by David Huffaker,[2] a graduate student at Georgetown University. The second is adapted from Gagne, Briggs, and Wagner.

Design Tips

  1. Interface Design: Design the interface and multimedia to suit the needs of the learner. Due to the increasing number of platforms and networks available, using the Lowest Common Denominator leads to the maximum learning experience for all.
  2. Personalize Content: By having software recognize user names, and by allowing for user customization of pages and toolbars, E-Learning offers both structure and flexibility to the user. Non-technical writing and conversational tones are other ways of personalizing content.
  3. Continuous Evaluation: In all stages of the learning process, E-Learning packages must provide feedback and indicate progress to the learner. By allowing the user to monitor their mastery of learning, navigate through new material, or back through previous or review materials enriches the learning experience.
  4. Knowledge Management: In most Web-Based learning programs, the explicit knowledge of textbook, outline and class notes are easily captured and retrieved. The tactile knowledge built into the individual learner, instructor, of that developed by the group must also be easily managed and accessed. The ability to archive and retrieve group knowledge is essential for successful E-Learning.

Nine Events of Instruction

In their work "Principles of Instructional Design" (1992), Gagne, Briggs, and Wagner present 9 events of instruction. The corresponding cognitive process is shown in brackets.

  1. Gaining Attention: (reception)
  2. Informing Learners of the Objective(s): (expectancy)
  3. Stimulating Recall of prior learning: (retrieval)
  4. Presenting the Stimulus: (selective perception)
  5. Providing Learning Guidance: (semantic encoding)
  6. Eliciting Performance: (responding)
  7. Providing Feedback: (reinforcement)
  8. Assessing Performance: (retrieval)
  9. Enhancing Retention and Transfer: (generalization)

Design Models

The use of an Instructional Systems Design ISD has been in place since the end of WW II, mostly in training programs. ISD is currently finding its way into many Educational settings. During the last sixty years or so, more than 100 instructional design models have emerged. (Kruse, 2004, p.1) Many of these design models take their roots in the ADDIE model: analysis, design, development, implementati0n, and evaluation. Three classic design models are presented below.

Morrison, Ross, and Kemp

By considering all environmental factors, Morrison, Ross, and Kemp present a classroom-oriented holistic model. Unique to other models, instruction is considered from the learner's perspective. The rings on the outside of the model posse six questions to address the readiness of the learner, considered both independent and continuous. The inner circle represents the nine model elements, which are again independent of each other, and can be considered in any order. This model is popular with teachers because it allows entry with little design experience, using available resources. The model is also able to grow with the designer as they become more proficient, or gains access to additional resources.

(Adapted from Kemp, 1985)

Seels and Glasgow

This product oriented model is often used to produce instructional packages. Production would require strong management, and a significant commitment to resources. Usually the team is responsible for developing resource materials, as opposed to finding them, and would require a fairly technical delivery medium. The model, shown below, is divided into three phases: needs analysis, instructional design, and implementation and evaluation. These divisions allow for instructional packages to be produced separately, with the instructional designers often required to head the entire project. As the arrow suggest, this model can be applied in a linear fashion, while design and evaluation phases are often involve cyclic iterations.

(Adapted from Seels and Glasgow, 1990)

Dick and Carey

The Dick and Carey model is likely the most widely known system model, and forms the base-line for most other system models. The model is based on the underlying premise that every component of the model is essential, and none can be skipped. The model, presented below is both sequential and systematic in nature. The main strength of the model is that the designer requires clear and measurable learning objectives, thereby developing instruction as a systematic process. The evaluation, especially the formative evaluation allows for the necessary corrections to be made to the instructional process, ensuring that the instructional goals are met. One of the strengths of this model (also a criticism) is that learning is based on mastering a set of predictable and therefore reliable behaviors. The Dick and Carey model is widely used in business, government and the military. It is finding its way into educational settings, used in both course and curriculum design. This system model usually requires design expert to perform the analysis and evaluation components, and finds most materials to be developed rather than selected.

(Adapted from Dick and Carey, 1990)

Evaluation of Resources

There are an overwhelming abundance of web-based e-learning resources freely available over the internet. One of the most common problems with web-based learning tools is the failure to follow structured design principles. Evaluating web resources can be a daunting task. Educational researchers have established some design principles to guide e-learning design. Vargo, Nesbitt, Belfer & Archambault (Nesbitt, 2004) have created a tool to help evaluate learning objects. Vargo et. al. describe nine criteria which provide a good set of guidelines for instructors who need to evaluate web-based educational media. For each of the criteria there are some key questions instructors should consider.

  1. Content Quality: Is the content accurate? Does it present a representative balance of ideas? Is the level of detail appropriate for my needs?
  2. Learning Goal Alignment: Does the site align with my intended learning goals, my planned activities, and my assessments? Does the site align with the characteristics of my target learners?
  3. Motivation: Will the site motivate and engage my target learners? Is the content relevant to my learners? Are the expectations realistic? Is it clear to learners how to be successful?
  4. Presentation Design: Are things easy to find? Is the design uncluttered? Does the object design enrich the learning experience for my students? Does the design use multi-sensory media including graphics, audio and video effectively? Will the design enhance learning and mental processing?
  5. Interaction Usability: Is the site easy to navigate? Is the design intuitive and predictable? Are there help features to support my learners?
  6. Accessibility: Does the site use tools that provide alternative ways for my learners to access the information? Are their controls for text, aural, visual format? (This criterion is particularly important for instructors with distance, mobile, or disabled learners).
  7. Feedback and Adaptation: Does the site provide a way to give my learners feedback? Does it adapt the content based on a learner’s responses?
  8. Reusability: Can the site be used in other subjects, with other levels of learners, or with learners from differing backgrounds?
  9. Standards Compliance: Does the site comply with any of the standards used in my teaching practice? (This criterion may apply to a range of standards from prescribed learning objectives to ISO Standards).

Pedagogical Issues

Web-based pedagogy is time consuming for both instructor and student. Web content requires time and resources to design, develop, maintain. When student interaction is largely text-based they need time and self-motivation to read and write their contributions. Instructors, too must take time to read, moderate, and provide feedback. When features like chat are used student fluency and literacy become more important. Use of chat is often most effective in small groups in order to minimize issues of fluency and typing.

Effective web-based strategies need a systematic development process. Much of the energy in web-based e-learning is often invested in producing the web pages, and requires use of an web-based Instructional Design model. Successful e-learning design requires a planned process including analysis, design, evaluation, and implementation. These issues need to be considered at the start of the web-based e-learning design project.

There are a number of other considerations specific to use of web-based strategies in educational design. These include, but are not limited to the following:

  • Clarify expectations: Expectations for web-based instruction needs to be clearly stated and included in the design. This will include things like requirements for online discussion participation and etiquette, assignments, and assessment.
  • Feedback channels: Particularly for fully-online courses it is important to clearly identify feedback channels including methods of communication, expected response times.
  • Quality control: Content needs to be reviewed and updated regularly to maintain currency. Any hyperlinks also need to be checked regularly. Links that have moved will need to be updated. Dead links will need to be replaced which may require changes to the educational content.
  • Socio-cultural considerations: Educational design of web-based material needs to consider the social norms of the local culture. To provide relevance the design should include local examples and meet local needs.

See Also

Links to other related topics within this wiki environment:


  • Barab,S., & Duffy,T. (2000). From practice fields to communities of practice. In D. Jonassen and S. Land (Eds.), Theoretical foundations of learning environments. Mahweh, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum.
  • Brooks,D.W., Nolan,D.E., & Gallagher,S.M. (2001). Web-teaching: A guide to designing interactive teaching for the world wide web. Springer.
  • Driscoll. M.P. (2005). Psychology of Learning for Instruction. Toronto, ON: Pearson.
  • Gagne, R., Briggs, L., & Wagner, W. (1992). Principles of Instructional Design. Fort Worth: Harcourt Brace Javanovich.
  • Lalueza,J., Bria,I., Crespo,I., Sanchez,S., & Luque,M. (2004). Education as the creation of microcultures. From the local community to the virtual network. Interactive Educational Multimedia, 9, 16-31.
  • Morrison, G., Ross, S., and Kemp, J. (2001) Designing effective instruction (3rd edition) New York: John Wiley & Sons.
  • Ryder,M. & Wilson,B. (1996). Affordances and constraints of the Internet for learning and instruction. Association for Educational Communications Technology. Indianapolis. Downloaded February 20, 2008 from
  • Scardamalia,M., & Bereiter,C. (1994). Computer support for knowledge building communities. Journal of the Learning Sciences, 3(3), 265-283.
  • Seels, B. & Glasgow, Z. (1990) Exercises in instructional Technology. Columbus Ohio: Merrill Publishing Co.
  • Vargo,J., Nesbit,J.C., BelferK., & Archambault,A. (2003). Learning object evaluation: Computer mediated collaboration and inter-rater reliability. International Journal of Computers and Applications, 25 (3), 198-205.

External Links

Links to project sites, resources, and other sources of interest for educators wanting to adopt web-based strategies:

  • ADDIE Design Model A wikipage that gives a quick overview, as well as pros and cons of the ADDIE instructional design model.
  • Culture Canada - a government source of learning resources and funding information.
  • eLera Website - Elearning Research and Assessment has developed a Learning Object Review Instrument used to evaluate e-learning resources.
  • Web-Based Design -A research project to explore design issues associated with the development of Web-Based Instruction
  • Web-Based Instruction - a site by Virginia Tech dedicated to web-based instructional strategies and resources.
  • What a Site! A web site by the Maricopa Community Colleges Centre for Learning and Instruction. The site helps teachers find evaluate and integrate web resources for the subjects they teach.