1. TECH4101: Instructional Design for the Web [Document #9]
Instructional design for the Web
Dr. Alaa Sadik, Sultan Qaboos University
According to Gagne et al. (1988), the purpose of instructional design is to structure an
environment to provide learners with conditions that support learning. Gustafson and Branch
(1997) indicated that the main role of instructional design models is to provide conceptual and
communication tools to visualise and direct processes for generating guided learning. With
the growing development in Web-based education, the need to look for an appropriate design
strategy (or model) is highlighted.
The review of the instructional design literature shows that design, development and
evaluation stages are the main elements included in instructional design models. Spector et al.
(1992), for example, suggested a useful model of instructional systems design for analysing
the relationship between learner characteristics, the learning environment and the resulting
quality of computer-based instruction. They described the model as a ‘cognitively oriented
method for developing a useful and predictive process for designing CBI’ (Spector et al.,
1992, p. 45).
However, although this model is beneficial as a series of stages, Spector et al. did not
indicate how to follow or implement this model. In addition, the design depends mainly on
the results of behavioural and objectivist research, which has been challenged recently by the
constructivist approach. More recently, Kemp et al. (1994) argued that the elements of
instructional design process can be represented by answers to four questions:
1. For whom is the programme being developed?
2. What do you want the learners to learn?
3. How is the subject content or skill best learned?
4. How do you determine the extent to which the learning has been achieved? (Kemp et al.,
1994, p. 8).
2. TECH4101: Instructional Design for the Web [Document #9]
Typical instructional design model
Instructional design phase Typical Goals
Analysis • Define training requirements.
• Analyse target population.
• Establish performance levels.
Design • Specify instructional objectives.
• Group and sequence objectives.
• Design instructional treatments.
• Specify evaluation system.
Production • Develop learning activities.
• Develop test items.
• Perform formative evaluation.
Implementation • Implement learning activities.
• Administer test items.
• Assess student results.
Maintenance • Revise content materials.
• Revise test items.
• Assess course effectiveness.
Understanding the requirements of distance education and the capabilities of the Web
is important for designing and developing relevant Web-based instruction. For example,
designing for the Web requires transforming the Web from a passive publishing tool to an
active learning environment to deliver instruction and support distance students. In addition,
interaction between instructors and learners and among learners themselves, which is a
serious limitation of many distance education environments, should be considered in
designing a Web-based instruction environment. Making the learning experience interactive
requires adapting and exploiting hypermedia features, involving the communicative approach
and providing immediate feedback.
However, it is should be mentioned that producing a learning environment for delivery
via the Web is different from publishing an information system using traditional types of
media. Web-based learning environments have their own nature, components, structure and
evaluation strategies. Therefore, developing for the Web requires going through many
additional tasks and sub-tasks in the instructional design process.
3. TECH4101: Instructional Design for the Web [Document #9]
Instructional design of Web-based learning environments
The definition focus Sub-tasks
Learners analysis * - Learners’ needs
- Learners’ background and educational
Front-end analysis ** Using, adopting or designing and developing an
effective Web-based learning environment for
teaching students at distance.
Defining the subject content and the - Defining the learning subject
learning objectives - The nature of the subject
- Problems associated with teaching and
learning the subject
- Teaching/learning strategies of the
- The subject and CAI
- Task analysis
- Aims and objectives
The teaching/learning approach Defining a teaching/learning approach for designing
Defining the requirements of the Defining management component, tutorial
learning environment on the Web component, interaction component and support
Defining technical requirements Defining:
- Web server machine
- Internet connections
Defining user requirements Software, hardware and Internet connection
The design and development focus Sub-tasks
Media and format selection Web-based hypermedia objects
Selection of development Web page editor, photo editor, programming
environment languages, etc.
Designing and developing the - Tutorials and assessment
components of the learning - Support utilities
environment - Interaction tools
- Management and monitoring tools
- Help and on-line support
- Organising the learning environment
Designing and organising the - General design
environment - Organising the components
Using the environment Student’s path through the learning environment
Uploading the site to the Web server Uploading and trying the site in a Web server
Developmental testing (formative - Expert appraisal
evaluation) - Student tryout
4. TECH4101: Instructional Design for the Web [Document #9]
* Learner analysis
The first step in the design and development phase is to understand students’ needs, have
information about their educational and cultural background and determine why they need to
study at a distance. In the ID models, this stage is an on-going process rather than an
introductory stage. Designers can collect information from learners about their feelings, what
they prefer and what can be done to make the programme more interesting and helpful. In the
present study, information about learners was needed to design the learning environment,
choose types of learning, plan for learning activities and anticipate the degree to which
students would need technical and educational support.
** Front-end analysis
Front-end analysis is the second step in designing any programme. It is the designer’s role to
investigate the needs of the programme to see whether they are met by an already established
learning environment or not and to evaluate the limitations of other alternatives and the
outcomes of developing a new programme.
The evaluation approach is mainly based on the review of the literature and conducted
in the light of the following issues:
1. Limitations of previous distance education systems and the framework for describing
the features of distance education technologies (type of interaction, type of learning,
costs, ease of use, flexibility, etc.);
2. Bates’ (1995) ACTIONS model for evaluating and comparing among distance
3. Types and requirements of developing and receiving on-line learning and delivery of
media via the Web.
4. Models of using the Web in education, theories and types of on-line learning and the
framework of features and elements of on-line learning (tutorial, interaction,
management and support).