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Friday, January 19, 2007

Re-Post From The AECT BlogTrack - Teachers and Designers Perceptions of Web-Based Design

This entry from the AECT BlogTrack is the fourth entry from the month of June, the fourth in the series where I described the research work that I have done to date in virtual schooling, and the twelvth overall in the re-posts from this series.

This was the first study that I conducted as a doctoral student at the University of Georgia. It started as a project that I did for my qualitative research courses, that I would expand upon later - see one of the future entries on Student Perceptions of Web-Based Design.

The purpose of this study is to investigate the characteristics perceived to be important for an effectively designed web-based course for secondary school students by those who have designed courses for this population of students. The data collection process involved 30-60 minute telephone interviews. These interviews were conducted with different six course developers, e-teachers and individuals who have held both roles for the CDLI, after twenty-eight of the thirty-two CDLI course developers and teachers were contacted. All interviews occurred from June to August of 2004.

From an analysis of the interview transcript, I identified seven thematic categories which I refined into guidelines for developers. When designing web-based content for secondary school students, course developers should:
  1. prior to beginning development of any of the web-based material, plan out the course with ideas for the individual lessons and specific items that they would like to include;
  2. keep the navigation simple and to a minimum, but don’t present the material the same way in every lesson;
  3. provide a summary of the content from the required readings or the synchronous lesson and include examples that are personalized to the students’ own context;
  4. ensure students are given clear instructions and model expectations of the style and level that will be required for student work;
  5. refrain from using too much text and consider the use of visuals to replace or supplement text when applicable;
  6. only use multimedia that will enhances the content and not simply because it is available; and
  7. develop their content for the average or below average student.
One of the interesting developments from this study was that the guidelines listed above had little similarity to online learning guidelines for instructional designers found in the literature, which further underscored the differences between the ways adults learn and how adolescents learn. (For more information, see Barbour, 2005a; Barbour, 2005b.)

Selected Bibliography

Barbour, M. (2005a). Perceptions of effective web-based design for secondary school students: A narrative analysis of previously collected data. The Morning Watch, 32(3-4). Retrieved November 04, 2005 from http://www.mun.ca/educ/faculty/mwatch/win05/Barbour.htm

Barbour, M. (2005b). The design of web-based courses for secondary students. Journal of Distance Learning, 9(1), 27-36.

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