Best Practices Guide for Instruction at a Distance
“From Face-to-Face Training to Distance Learning”
Congratulations! If you are reading this guide, you are ready for the challenge of converting your current training modules to a blended learning
environment. As you embark on this challenge, it is important that you understand the key components of a successful distance learning
system. The key components are the learners, the objectives, the content, the method of delivery, and the learning and performance
environment. A successful distance learning system, networks all of the key components into an entire system. The Dick and Carey Instructional
Design Model, as outlined below, is a systematic process that may be used as you plan your distance learning system. Explanations of each step
and checklists that include ideas, tips, and questions to consider, as you follow this model, are included on the pages that follow.
Stage 1: Identify Instructional Goals
Rationale: In this stage, the need for the training is identified. To plan an effective learning course, it is critical to analyze what it is that the
trainers and trainees should be able to do by the end of the training. List your identified goals below.
Goal # Goal
Stage 2: Conduct Instructional Analysis
Rationale: In this stage, step-by-step procedures for performing the goals are identified. Dick, Carey & Carey (2004) stated “Concepts,
knowledge, and specific skills need to be identified” (as cited in Simonson et al., 2009). What skills and knowledge are required for the trainers
and trainees to accomplish the identified goals? List the skills and knowledge needed to accomplish each goal below.
Goal # Needed Skills and Knowledge
Stage 3: Analyze Learners and Contexts
Rationale: In this stage, a learner analysis is conducted to gather information about characteristics of the learners. “Taking the time to learn
about the learners in the class yields a more productive learning environment” (Simonson, Smaldino, Albright, & Zvacek, 2009, p. 128). A
contextual analysis is also conducted to analyze the learning environment to determine factors that may enhance or hinder instruction.
Hannafin (2005) and Tessmer & Harris (1992) state “A thorough context analysis ensures the planned instruction fits the instructional
environment” (as cited in Morrison et al., 2004). Considering the questions below, conduct surveys, observations, interviews, etc., to help you
analyze the learners and the instructional context.
Are the trainers and trainees familiar with using technology and technological delivery systems?
Do the trainers and trainees have prerequisite knowledge and skills for the training?
How do the trainers and trainees approach learning?
What are their learning styles?
Do the trainers and trainees understand the intent of the training?
How convenient will it be for the trainers and trainees to access the online training and resources?
Will they be able to find flexibility in their personal and work schedules to participate and complete training requirements?
Stage 4: Write Performance Objectives
Rationale: In this stage, clear performance objectives are written to specify what the learners will be able to do. Each objective should specify
conditions, performance skills, and measurement criteria.
Objective # Objective
Stage 5: Develop Assessment Instruments
Rationale: In this stage, a criterion-referenced assessment is developed to correlate with the performance objectives. “A less formal way of
expressing this is: Figure out what learners should get out of the instruction, determine how you’ll know whether or not they were successful,
and then decide what they should do to reach that point” (Simonson, et al., 2009, p. 266). If your method of assessment during the face-to-face
training sessions is effective, you may choose to continue using that assessment method. However, you may choose to develop another
assessment. The most critical thing to be aware of is assessment instruments should match the goals and objectives, therefore, guiding the
instruction. Some example assessment strategies are listed below.
Online quizzes and tests Asynchronous Communication (Discussion boards)
Synchronous Communication (Chat forums) Portfolios
Papers and Essays Presentations
Problem – Based Activities Journal Writing
Concept Maps Simulations and Games
Stage 6: Develop Instructional Strategy
Rationale: In this stage, a plan for presenting the instruction to the trainers and trainees is generated. This plan outlines how the instructional
activities will help accomplish the goals and objectives. Consider the questions below when writing your instructional plan.
Pre-instructional Activity Considerations
__How will I motivate the trainers and trainees?
__How will I inform the learners of the objectives?
__How will I get the trainers and trainees to make connections and recall prior knowledge and skills?
Presentation of Information
__How will I transfer all face-to-face training modules to a distance learning format?
__What delivery system will I use to deliver the content?
__How will I deliver the content to assure the trainers and trainees are learning the skills intended to be learned?
__How will I sequence the training activities? Will they be grouped by one objective at a time or related objectives? Will I face time constraints?
__How will I present examples and non-examples of the learning expectations?
__How will I guide the learning and keep the trainers and trainees on track?
__What methods will be used to provide practice opportunities for the trainers and trainees?
__How will they communicate to me their successes and failures in performing the learning tasks?
__What assessment instrument will I use to assess the performance of the trainers and trainees? How will it be administered?
__How will the trainers and trainees be graded?
__How will I provide performance feedback? How often?
__Will learners provide feedback to their peers? How?
__How will I develop and deliver pretests and posttests to the trainers and trainees?
__How will I provide remediation?
__How will I provide enriching opportunities?
__How will I assess whether the trainers and trainees are able to transfer the knowledge and skills in the workplace?
__What will I do if the knowledge and skills are not transferred?
Stage 7: Develop and Select Instruction
Rationale: In this stage, the instructional strategies will be used to produce the instruction. Existing materials may continue to be used or there
may be a need to develop new materials. Trainers and trainees may provide insight into the design of the forthcoming learning experience.
“Using a simple feedback form, students can describe or indicate in some other way their expectations and perceptions of the class structure
and the delivery mode” (Simonson, et al., 2009, p. 132). Based on the instructional strategies identified in Stage 6, along with the following
considerations, you will produce the instruction.
There are many forms of media that may be used in a blended learning environment. Some forms are podcasts, video lectures, training videos,
teleconferences, tests, and message boards. When converting from a face-to-face learning environment to a blended learning environment,
practical considerations must be made in order to provide adequate content for face-to-face trainings and online trainings. First, the media
choice has to match the content. Second, information presented through media must be accurate. Third, the choice of media must be
motivating and engaging. Fourth, the technical quality of the media must accommodate the technologies involved. Some materials may need to
be revised for readability or to gain access.
When creating visuals, other practical considerations must be made. “Visuals provide a concrete reference point for students, especially when
they are engaged in a nontelevised learning experience” (Simonson, et al., 2009, p. 134). First, be sure the font, the font size, and the font color
is legible. Choose font colors and background contrasts that complement each other. Second, be aware of copyright laws.
Be sure that all trainers and trainees have access and familiarity with the hardware or software they will be using for the training. If they aren’t,
a pre-training session would be beneficial. As the training manager, use a course delivery system that has a layout that will be intuitive for the
trainers and the trainees. Likewise, make sure the trainers and trainees understand the technical terminology, and are able to complete the
tasks expected of them.
The use of resources in an online learning environment must be carefully planned out. Be sure links to online resources are not broken. Make
sure file attachments have been attached and are not corrupt. Handouts are an important communication link with the trainers and trainees.
Quality handouts are essential. Convert face-to-face reading materials to digital if possible. When available, use digital information already
available which may include eBooks, online articles, online videos, and PDF files. Record audio and video lectures that may be used in the face-
to-face training sessions, as well as in the online environment. Make all resources and resource files available to students without time
Stage 8: Design and Conduct Formative Evaluation
Rationale: In this stage, a formative evaluation is designed and conducted. The purpose for formative evaluation is to monitor the effectiveness
of the training design in addressing the instructional objectives. Formative evaluation should take place early in the process because it will
provide data for revising and improving the training instruction. When planning for formative evaluation, consider the following questions.
Based on the objectives, what affect does this training module have on the learning? Is it acceptable? What areas need improving?
Are the learners able to perform the tasks? Acceptable level? Too difficult?
Did the students have adequate time to complete the requirements? Too short? Too long?
Were the resources easy to access? Were they effective in assisting the training?
How did the trainers and trainees feel about the tasks? Relevant? Irrelevant?
What revisions need to be made?
Stage 9: Revise Instruction
Rationale: In this stage, data collected in the formative evaluation is used to examine the validity of Stages 2-7. Instruction is revised in the
Stage 10: Design and Conduct Summative Evaluation
Rationale: In this stage, a summative evaluation is conducted by an outside evaluator. Posttests play a significant role in summative evaluation.
The system as a whole is studied and its effectiveness in providing the training required to achieve the goals and objectives is evaluated. This
evaluation takes place after the formative evaluation and instructional revision takes place. Based on the summative evaluation, the decision to
continue or discontinue the training model is made. The effectiveness of the training will determine if it is worth the time, and money involved.
Likewise, benefits of the program are brought forth and evaluated.
Best Practices FAQ’s
What aspects from my face-to-face training sessions could be enhanced in the distance learning format?
Just as discussion opportunities were provided in your original training sessions, the level of discussion may be enhanced in the distance
learning format. The trainers and trainees may be more apt to interact and discuss thoughts and ideas when they are giving ample time to
consider the concepts being discussed. In the distance learning format, discussions prompts are provided and the trainers and trainees will
respond at their convenience instead of spontaneously. Likewise, the depth of knowledge attained as pertains to training models will be
enhanced. The trainers and trainees will be able to view and analyze the skills being taught as many times necessary to attain and digest them.
Learners learn at different rates. When they are able to learn at their own pace, learning is more effective.
How will my role, as the training manager, change in the distance learning environment?
Your role as trainer will be to facilitate the learning. You will be responsible for ensuring that adequate training sessions and resources
are provided to ensure the trainers and trainees are getting the knowledge and skills needed to successfully meet the prescribed goals and
objectives. You will be responsible for making sure all trainers and trainees have the technological skills and components necessary to actively
participate in the distance learning environment. You will also be responsible for making sure the trainers and trainees are actively involved in
the training by monitoring time spent engaged in the training, assignment dates being met, and the accuracy of the assignments. Moreover, you
will be responsible for fostering positive attitudes about the training taking place in the distance learning environment, by addressing questions
and concerns of the trainers and trainees when they occur.
What steps should I take to encourage the trainers to communicate online?
Collaboration is essential in a distance learning environment. To encourage the trainers and trainees to communicate online, several
things need to happen. The learners should know how to communicate online. Provide training or training videos to demonstrate how to
communicate online. Be sure to address netiquette in the beginning. As facilitator, provide discussion prompts that are engaging. The prompts
may require the trainers and trainees to critique different things in their initial posts and then respond to the posts of their peers. Most
importantly, make sure that as the training manager, you are engaged in the online communication as well. Providing feedback and input sends
a message to the trainers and trainees that you are interested in their learning success. Keep them on task by rewarding good communication
and sharing ideas with those that may need to improve their level of communication. Finally, provide interactive and engaging tasks that will
motivate the students to want to communicate with others their experiences and ideas.
Morrison, G., Ross, S. M., & Kemp, J. E. (2007). Designing effective instruction (5th ed.). Hoboken, NJ: Wiley.
Simonson, M., Smaldino, S., Albright, M., & Zvacek, S. (2009). Teaching and learning at a distance: Foundations of distance education (4th ed.).
Boston, MA: Pearson.
Swapnil. (2008, October 4). The Dick and Carey / Systems Approach Model of Instructional Design. Message posted to Insightlopedia, archived