e-Learning strategies are divided into the five phases of instructional design (Rao, Edelen-Smith, & Wailehua, 2015): 1. Analysis, 2. Design, 3. Development, 4. Implementation and 5. Evaluation, with particular attention to the principles of universal design. Instructional design is an iterative process and it is best to track its evolution and keep all versions along the way.
The main principles are provided for the three universal design frameworks (Rao, Edelen-Smith, & Wailehua, 2015). They challenge us to go beyond access considerations to designing and enhancing learning opportunities for everyone.
Universal Design frameworks
This first phase consists of a needs analysis (identify problems or required change), task analysis (task students need to accomplish or perform), and analysis of learners (common attributes and differences) (Brown & Green, 2016).
Learner autonomy: Provide differing amounts of structure in e-learning environments to match a group's ability to take responsibility for learning, be engaged and intrinsically motivated (Morgan & Belfer, 2007). More autonomous students need some structure so that they can orient themselves but they can be left to shape their own interactions and choose their own path. A branched structure can address autonomy concerns (Gabriel, 2007). Rather than forcing everyone through a sequence of learning activities, branching out offers a possible structure to follow but it still allows for experimentation and self-direction.
Learner skill level: With additional elements, learners with different skill levels can design their own experiences (Dirkson, 2012). These include activities and materials at a more advanced level as well as options for anyone who needs more help. Vocabulary support, such as a glossary of terminology, will benefit most students and de-mystify highly technical language (Larkin, Nihill, & Devlin, 2014). Scaffolding learning objects, from basic to more advanced, together with these elements can address varying amounts of skill. Peer learning opportunities will also allow students of different skill levels to learn from each other.
Learning styles: To accommodate visual, auditory, kinesthetic and other learning styles offer different types of activities and options for assessment. However, there is no scientific evidence to support learning styles theories (Willingham, Hughes, & Dobolyi, 2015).
Writing clear learning outcomes is a challenge. If you are transitioning face-to-face learning activities and materials online, this is where you return to the learning outcomes. Use another content expert to review designs, before moving on to the development phase.
The 5 stage model for designing online and blended courses:
The best advice for the development phase of instructional design is to include members of the target audience as early as possible, testing and piloting even concepts and rough prototypes (Seale et al., 2006). This is also known as rapid prototyping (Meier & Miller, 2016).
Consider the universal design principles described above, as well as the reusability of learning objects and different ways to avoid cognitive overload. The technologies section has tools to help with media production, such as captioning videos and incorporating interactivity.
Developing reusable learning objects
Cognitive overloadMayer and Moreno offer 9 ways to reduce cognitive load (required cognitive capacity) when teaching with multimedia (2003):
Synchronous versus asynchronous
When teaching synchronously, it is best to also offer asynchronous communication options to benefit those studying in another language or who require additional support (Morgan & Belfer, 2007). For example, students can participate in asynchronous discussion threads and take extra time to process posts and write responses. Synchronous time can be used the way that face-to-face time is used in the flipped classroom model, fostering active learning, with recordings made available to students afterwards (Rao, Edelen-Smith, & Wailehua, 2015).
There are tips in the literature for posting learning objects and other materials:
Evaluation and assessment may combine teacher reflection with data from different sources (Oliver et al., 2006). For example, you can get a lot of analytics from social media, such as tweets and shares. Student tagging and classifying of resources also provides insight into a group as a whole (Dron 2007).
Biggs recommends combining evidence from three perspectives: students, teachers, and the critical friend (2007). Evidence from students' perspective can come from questionnaires, focus group interviews, students reflections on learning process (journals, diaries, portfolios, self-assessment. peer-assessment), grade distributions, and samples of students performance (pre/post test). Evidence from teachers' perspective includes insights and evidence from teaching portfolios. Biggs recommends keeping a personal record of practice, reflecting on teaching philosophy and practice, identifying strengths and areas for improvement, and planning professional teaching development. The role of critical friend is to act as a sounding board and provide another perspective.
Good Library instruction
In 1999, Dewald published criteria for good library instruction and they have since become essential to academic libraries evaluating e-learning. Good library instruction is: 1. Course or assignment related, 2. Collaborative, 3. Uses more than one medium, 5. Provides clear objectives, 6. Teaches concepts, and 7. Offers librarian support.
The eight general standards from Quality Matters:
Online program evaluation framework (McPherson & Nunes, 2004):
Summative evaluation: Takes place after implementation of each module/section and at the end of the program to assess the final product. Can design comprehensive anonymous questionnaires.
Formative evaluation: Ongoing - takes place during the design, development and implementation stages for continual revision and improvement. Students are encouraged to provide comments and ask questions throughout and are solicited for feedback after completing each module/section (ex: questionnaires, interviews).
Situated evaluation: Monitor student presence, participation and progress during implementation in the learning environment (learner behaviour in context).
Learner bahaviour analysis at the session/module level and at the course level (Premlatha & Geetha, 2015):
Bottom of the page bonus: Tests are fun, take the VARK questionnaire.
See the full bibliography for works consulted.
Biggs, J. B., & Tang, C. S. (2007). Teaching for quality learning at university: What the student does. Maidenhead: McGraw-Hill & Open University Press.
Brown, A., & Green, T. D. (2016). The essentials of instructional design: Connecting fundamental principles with process and practice. New York: Routledge.
Conole, G., Dyke, M., Oliver, M., & Seale, J. (2004). Mapping pedagogy and tools for effective learning design. Computers & Education, 43(1), 17-33.
Dewald, N. H. (1999). Transporting good library instruction practices into the web environment: an analysis of online tutorials. The Journal of Academic Librarianship, 25(1), 26-31.
Dirksen, J. (2012). Design for how people learn. Berkeley, CA: New Riders.
Dron, J. (2007). Control and constraint in e-learning: Choosing when to choose. Hershey, PA: Idea Group Pub.
Gabriel, M. A. (2007). "Toward effective instruction in e-learning environments." In: Bullen, M., & Janes, D. P. Making the transition to e-learning: Strategies and issues. Hershey, PA: Information Science Pub.
Larkin, H., Nihill, C., & Devlin, M. (2014). "Inclusive practices in academia and beyond" In: Fraser, K. The future of learning and teaching in next generation learning spaces. Bradford: Emerald Group Publishing Limited.
Littlejohn, A., Cook, J., Campbell, L., Sclater, N., Currier, S., & Davis, H. (2006). "Managing educational resources" In: Conole, G., & Oliver, M. (Ed.), Contemporary perspectives in e-learning research. Hoboken: T&F.
Mayer, R. E., & Moreno, R. (2003). Nine ways to reduce cognitive load in multimedia learning. Educational psychologist, 38(1), 43-52.
McPherson, M., & Nunes, M. B. (2004). Developing innovation in online learning: An action research framework. London: RoutledgeFalmer.
Meier, J. J., & Miller, R. K. (2016). Turning the revolution into an evolution: The case for design thinking and rapid prototyping in libraries. College & Research Libraries News, 77(6), 283-286.
Morgan. T., & Belfer, K. "A framework for choosing communication activities in e-learning" In: Bullen, M., & Janes, D. P. (2007). Making the transition to e-learning: Strategies and issues. Hershey, PA: Information Science Pub.
Oliver, M., Roberts, G., Beetham, H., Ingraham, B., Dyke, M., & Levy, P. "Knowledge, society and perspectives on learning technology" In: Conole, G., & Oliver, M. (2006). Contemporary perspectives in e-learning research. Hoboken: T&F.
Premlatha, K. R., & Geetha, T. V. (2015). Learning content design and learner adaptation for adaptive e-learning environment: a survey. Artificial Intelligence Review, 44(4), 443-465.
Rao, K., Edelen-Smith, P., & Wailehua, C.-U. (2015). Universal design for online courses: applying principles to pedagogy. Open Learning, 30(1), 35-52.
Salmon, G. (2013). E-tivities: The key to active online learning. Taylor & Francis.
Seale, J., Boyle, T., Ingraham, B., Roberts, G., & McAvinia, C. "Designing digital resources for learning" In: Conole, G., & Oliver, M. (2006). Contemporary perspectives in e-learning research. Hoboken: T&F.
Willingham, D. T., Hughes, E. M., & Dobolyi, D. G. (2015). The scientific status of learning styles theories. Teaching of Psychology, 42(3), 266-271.