AECT 2006 - Effective Web-Based Design for Secondary School Students


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Barbour, M. K. (2006, October). Effective web-based design for secondary school students. Roundtable session at the annual convention of the Association for Educational Communication and Technology, Dallas, TX.

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AECT 2006 - Effective Web-Based Design for Secondary School Students

  1. 1. Effective web-based design for secondary school students Experiences of Students, Electronic Teachers, and Course Developers
  2. 2. Why?• there has been much research on web-based course design – Collis, 1999; Gallini & Barron, 2001-2002; Gunawardena & McIsaac, 2004; Kanuka, 2002; McLoughlin & Oliver, 2000; Stein, 2004• however, this research conducted in online learning has focused upon post-secondary institutions and corporate America – Gunawardena & McIsaac, 2004; Hill, Wiley, Nelson & Han, 2004; Kolbe & Bunker, 1997;• the problem with this focus upon an adult population is that there is a difference between how adults learn compared to the way adolescents learn – Bright, 1989; Cavanaugh, Gillan, Kromrey, Hess & Blomeyer, 2004; Knowles, 1970; Moore, 1973; Vygotsky, 1962, 1978
  3. 3. The Studies• Three studies – Teachers and developers in Newfoundland (Canada) • Jun – Aug 2004 – Developers in Illinois • Nov 2004 – Feb 2005 – Students in Newfoundland (Canada) • May – Jun 2005
  4. 4. The Teachers and Developers StudyJohn was one of the initial developers and was perceived as one of the stronger course developers until accepting a new job with the understanding he would not seek to be seconded by the CDLI.Cliff, a retired teacher who spent twenty-nine years in the classroom, is designing his first course.Norman, one of four original developers who went on to be an e-teacher, has also developed of sections of two other courses and is teaching a second web-based course.Bill, began his thirtieth year of teaching this past September, is another of the initial developers that went on to be an e-teacher for the past three years.Sam is a principal of a small, rural school, where he has taught in almost every subject area at every grade level, even though he is trained as a Science teacher.George, an administrator with the CDLI has been involved in distance education for the past decade and a half; first as a distance education coordinator in a rural school, then as an instructor and content developer, and later with a web-based program.
  5. 5. FindingsCourse 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; and7. develop their content for the average or below average student.
  6. 6. Planning and preparationDevelopers should “not attempt to writeanything, do not attempt to constructanything, until you have designed yourproject out from end to end, from start tofinish… if you fail to do this, here’s whathappens… if you get in there and get on withit and make a misstep, … undoing thatmistake usually means changes thatpeculate right through the web of work thatyou’ve constructed. So, undoing you’remistakes is horrendously difficult. Secondthing is that when you take the time to layyour project out from start to finish, thechances are you will confer with otherpeople and that means that you will addlayers of… important content… to yourproject that would not otherwise have beenthere if you did not take the time.” (George)
  7. 7. KISS, but not the same way all the timeInstead of going… “You will learn,” or “You should know,” and so on, they’ll click right to the “Lesson”… if I have any activities assigned to them, they’ll simply just go right to the “Activities,” they won’t even bother with the “Lesson” itself. (Norman)Each lesson “has to offer a certain sense of choice to the students preferred style or mode of learning. Some students learn better by reading, some… with their hands, [and] some… by discussing items. Now a well designed lesson would either a) provide a couple of approaches or b) at least in the long scheme of things the lessons taken in aggregate would provide… a varied approach” (George).
  8. 8. Useful and personalDevelopers should “try to develop a good set of notes [and] a good set of worked examples.” (John)He had students “looking a lot at their own lives [and] their own communities” (Bill).“For example, if it’s… a student in Newfoundland and Labrador, you would use organisms that would reside in the province themselves,” which “can provide [the students] with something a little more substantive and relate to where they are” (Norman).
  9. 9. Clear directions and expectationsStudents “need to have clearly defined what has to be done [over] a certain period of time.” (John)“The directions and the expectations [need to be] precise enough so students can work effectively on their own, not providing a roadblock for their time.” (Bill)
  10. 10. Text, text and more text“You’re trying very often to explain things... [that are] difficult to understand. The more explanation you have there the less chance… students are going to read it, but some of the concepts are just too difficult to be… presented very concisely.” (Bill)“By providing students a visual cue with the written information it does provide a connection for them.” (Norman)
  11. 11. Appropriate selection of tools“There should be a lot of distractions there with things that… might be gimmicky.” (Bill)“Trying to be too flashy… really may distract… from the lesson itself and students may miss the message.” (Norman)
  12. 12. Who’s your audience“Appropriateness… [is] an important thing… because a lot of… people who develop courses… design… for… top students… but we’re also going to have some very, very weak students… so even if you’re into doing complicated material… keeping it as simple as possible.” (Bill)“Students are still students and… we shouldn’t assume that they’re all self motivated… it’s much better to shoot… for the average and below average student… making sure that… there’s a structure in place that guarantees they’re doing their… work.” (Cliff)
  13. 13. The American Developers EvaluationSurvey• twenty-nine developers – seventeen completed part one – fifteen of which completed part two• response rate of 59% for part one and 52% for part twoInterviews• four IVHS course developers – two from the IVHS’ first year of operation and two the second year
  14. 14. The American Developers Evaluation1. How does the IVHS course development process compare to other virtual high school programs?2. How does the IVHS course development process contribute to the stated goals and objectives of the IVHS?3. How has the IVHS course development process been improved over time?4. What specific improvements to the IVHS course development process are recommended?
  15. 15. Findings1. Overall, course developers are pleased with their experience in developing courses for the Illinois Virtual High School.2. The Illinois Virtual High School course development process is fairly open-ended with a lot of room for developers to create the kind of course that they want to create.3. Approximately half of the Illinois Virtual High School courses were developed by a team of two or more developers and this has worked well in some instances and not so well in others.4. The course developers for the Illinois Virtual High School were trained as teachers and unable to utilize the technology of the web to its fullest capacity.5. As the Illinois Virtual High School begins to use the Syllabuild Tool to standardize their course development process, the freedom to design the look and feel of their courses was one of the things that the course developers enjoyed.
  16. 16. Recommendations1. Create a structure for the course development process so that the IVHS, eCollege, and the developer are under the same impressions when it comes to the nature of the assistance that can be provided and the expectations of all parties within the specific deadlines of the course development process.2. Divide the course development process into timed segments that describe the nature of the deliverable due at the end of each period, with partial payment for the successful delivery of each of the segments.3. If the IVHS continues to use a team of developers for a single course, determine a method of select team members that will work well together.4. Provide training in multimedia software for course developers or split the course development process so that technical developers can add multimedia components to courses after the content has been developed.5. Any tool used to guide the development of course developers needs to be open enough to allow for the creativity of the developer.
  17. 17. The Students StudyKari Baker is a grade twelve student at Beaches All Grade, a school of approximately twenty teachers and one hundred and seventy students, with about 50 of those in the high school. The school receives eight different CDLI courses, while Kari has completed three of those and is currently enrolled in three more.Jenni Mills is one of two grade ten student at St. Rita’s All Grade, a necessary existent school of approximately twenty students and four teachers. The school receives thirteen courses from the CDLI. Jenni has taken one of those as a grade nine student and is close to finishing another four this year.Carla Saunders is a grade twelve student at Ocean Academy, an all grade school with twelve teachers and approximately one hundred and twenty students. The school receives seven different CDLI courses and Carla has taken three of those courses.Annette Kean is a grade twelve student at St. Christopher’s School, an all grade school with sixteen teachers and approximately one hundred and fifty students, with about thirty of those in the high school. The school offers three different CDLI courses and Ashley is taking her first one.Becky Manning is a grade twelve student at Beaches All Grade in Beaches. Her school has approximately one hundred and seventy students, with about fifty students in the secondary grades. Becky has taken a total of seven web-based courses through the Centre for Distance Learning and Innovation, including four of her six courses this year.Lori Bursey is also a grade twelve student. She attends St. Rita’s All Grade in McBrides, a school with only nineteen students and four teachers in a geographically isolated portion of the province. She is the only student in her particular grade and has taken six courses through the Centre for Distance Learning and Innovation over the past four years.
  18. 18. Findings• Use of Web-based Content• Web-based Design
  19. 19. Use of Web-based Content• Students initially indicate that they don’t use the web-based content that much.• However, when discussing each of the individual components it comes out that they do use them more than they initially let on.• One barrier to using the web- based content is the amount of work assigned during offline time.• Another barrier to using the web- based content is how little e- teachers actually use it.• Another barrier to using the web- based content is they may not trust it.
  20. 20. Web-based Design• Students don’t like text.• Students enjoy the various media that the Internet is able to offer.• Students want multimedia used to explain concepts and provide information.• Students want to have a good set of notes.• Students find the review questions, particularly “Test Yourself” quizzes, quite useful.
  21. 21. BibliographyBright, B.P. (1989). Epistemological vandalism: Psychology in the study of adult education. In B.P. Bright (Ed.), Theory and practice in the study of adult education: The epistemological debate (pp. 34-64). London: Routledge.Cavanaugh, C., Gillan, K.J., Kromrey, J., Hess, M., Blomeyer, R. (2004). The effectes of distance education on K-12 student outcomes: A meta-analysis. Naperville, IL: Learning Point Associates. Retrieved on November 24, 2004 from, B. (1999). Designing for differences: Cultural issues in the design of WWW-based course-support sites. British Journal of Educational Technology, 30(3), 201-215.Gallini, J. & Barron, D. (2001-2002). Participants’ perceptions of web-infused environments: A survey of teaching belies, learning approaches, and communications. Journal of Research on Technology in Education, 34(2), 139-156.Gunawardena, C.N. & McIsaac, M.S. (2004) Distance education. In D.H. Jonassen (Ed.), Handbook of research on educational communications and technology (pp. 355-395). Mahwah, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates, Publishers.Hill, J.R., Wiley, D., Nelson, L.M. & Han, S. (2004). Exploring research on Internet-based learning: From infrastructure to interactions. In D.H. Jonassen (Ed.), Handbook of research on educational communications and technology (pp. 433-460). Mahwah, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates, Publishers.
  22. 22. BibliographyKanuka,H. (2002). Guiding principles for facilitating higher levels of web-based distance teaching and learning in post-secondary settings. Distance Education, 23(2), 163-182.Knowles, M.S. (1970). The modern practice of adult education: Andragogy vs. pedagogy. New York, NY: Association Press.Kolbe, M.A. & Bunker, E.L. (1997). Trends in research and practice: An examination of The American Journal of Distance Education 1987 to 1995. American Journal of Distance Education, 11(2), 19-38.McLoughlin, C. & Oliver, R. (2000). Designing learning environments for cultural inclusivity: A case study of indigenous online learning at tertiary level. Australian Journal of Educational Technology, 16(1), 58-72. Retrieved on July 31, 2006 from, M.G. (1973). Toward a theory of independent learning and teaching. Journal of Higher Education, 19(12), 661-679.Stein, D. (2004). Course structure: Most important factor in student satisfaction. Distance Education Report, 8(3), F1.Vygotsky, L. S. (1962). Thought and language (E. Hanfmann & G. Vakar, Trans.). Cambridge, MA: The M.I.T. Press.Vygotsky, L. S. (1978). Mind in society: The development of higher psychologist processes (M. Cole, V. John-Steiner, S. Scribner, E. Souberman, Eds.). Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press.
  23. 23. Studies CitationsBarbour, M. (accepted, 2006). Teacher and developer perceptions of effective web- based design for secondary school students. Journal of Distance Education, 21(3).Barbour, M. (2005). 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, M. (2005, October). Evaluation of the IVHS Course Development Process. Paper presentation at the annual Virtual School Symposium, Denver, CO.Barbour, M. (2005). Effective web-based design for secondary school students: Developer and teacher perceptions. Proceedings of the Annual Conference on Distance Teaching and Learning. Madison: WI: University of Wisconsin-Madison.Barbour, M. (2005). Teacher and developer perceptions of effective web-based design for secondary school students. Proceedings of the Southeastern Conference in Instructional Design and Technology (CD-Rom). Mobile, AL: University of South Alabama.Barbour, M. (2005, March). Teacher and developer perceptions of effective web-based design for secondary school students. Paper presented at the annual Southeastern Conference in Instructional Design and Technology, Mobile, AL.Barbour, M. (2005). Evaluation of the Illinois Virtual High School course development process. Illinois Virtual High School.Barbour, M. (2005). The design of web-based courses for secondary students. Journal of Distance Learning, 9(1). 27-36.Barbour, M. (2004). Lessons on designing web-based courses for K-12 students based upon individual learning styles. Proceedings of the Annual Conference on Distance Teaching and Learning. Madison: WI: University of Wisconsin-Madison.
  24. 24. Contact InformationMichael K. Barbour Doctoral Candidate Department of Educational Psychology and Instructional Technology University of Georgia