Getting Started
  As with most tasks we have to accomplish, once we know some of the basics and how to get started, the task is much simpler to complete. Well, the same is true with web based instruction!

With that in mind, this presentation was developed to hopefully assist instructors in just doing that, getting started with web based instruction. So…… lets get started.

Methods of Instruction: As a part of our career development, we were required to complete a Methods of Instruction (MOI) course. Some of us took that course some time ago and would not like to mention just how long ago. For that reason, there are some basic instructional review items, not in the how to teach, but how we learn. The items that are included are important to understand and remember when developing Web based instruction.

The remaining items: Lesson Plans, Developing Instructional Aids, Preparing Course and Unit Objectives and Enabling Objectives, and all of the other topics that are included in the "Methods" course are still valid when preparing web based instruction. The only difference is the way (format) the material is presented. Web based instruction does not require that the instructor stand up in front of the group, but it does require that we organize and develop the information in the same manner that it would have been presented if we did.

Web Based Instruction, Some Basics

Definitions: Included with this material is a page with some basic definitions which should be useful when navigating the following pages and information. As with most classes that we have taught, there are always some terms and concepts that have to be provided up front, or the information is lost.

Web Based Courses

There are differing types of web courses that an instructor may wish or need to develop. While, all instructional programs are basically the same in format, the difference here is the types of tools that may be required to complete the task.

Web Assisted Course: A Web assisted course is one in which the Web is used to enhance or supplement the primary delivery methodology. Items such as:

  • Class Assignments
  • Answers to Out of Class Assignments
  • Reference Materials
  • Course Tutorials
  • Messages and Forums
  • Research Assignments
  • Discussion (Chat) Sessions

and anything else that the instructor can think of that would be well suited to Web use.

Web Courses: Complete Web based courses are those courses that the primary method of delivery is the Web and the participant generally has the freedom to work on the course and related materials away from a central classroom setting and generally at anytime they wish. For this type of course the instructor should look at some of the Course Management software packages that are available. For example, Eastern Kentucky University uses a commercial package called Blackboard www.blackboard.com and had used Web Course in a Box (Will not be supported after June 2001). While I have not searched for others there must be more available.

Course Management Software: Course Management software will assist the instructor in organizing the course and administrative tasks into one neat and simple format. This software will assist with test development and online completion, grading, tracking when participants are visiting the site, and many more. Without this type of software, it would not be easy to take care of the administrative requirements.

Course Management Software while making the administrative requirements simpler, still require that the instructor develop the course materials. There are templates that can be used, but still the instructor will have to utilize other authoring tools to make the instructional materials work.

This presentation will not address the pro's and con's of course management software.

Information Pages: For a lack of a better descriptor, I am using "Information Page" to identify those single pages that we often develop to assist in providing an instructional message but not a course or web assisted course. Information such as Life Safety Education, Workplace Safety, and other similar pages can and are developed by instructors to promote an awareness or improve knowledge of others. Sometimes these pages are developed for both technical and non-technical users. This presentation will not address this type of page, but the information included will assist in the development.

Web Authoring Tools: HTML Code or WYSIWYG?

First, many are not sure exactly what either of the items are, what they mean, and how they are used. And, for the most part I agree……… all that concerned me when I started into this format of instruction is that I did not want to learn a technical computer language. After all, I am a computer user not a computer programmer and my literacy in the programming is non-existent.

So…. with that in mind, I have stayed with commercial web authoring tools (such as MS FrontPage, Adobe PageMill and similar) that provide me with the look and feel of software packages that I use on a regular basis. Of course, they have limitations and if you know how to write the HTML code you can do more. But, to date I have not found anything that I could not do with a standard package. In fact, in most instances if you can use a word processing package you can create a web page. Develop the text, insert graphics, links, and related then use the "Save As" or "Export" command and save or export to HTML or Web Page.

Many of us can remember the first time that we created a PowerPoint type presentation……. well we also probably remember getting started and not being sure of the commands and related activities. Soon, however, we were generating all types of presentations. Well, if you feel comfortable using PowerPoint, then just export the PowerPoint presentation to a web page. Very simple………

PDF: Adobe Acrobat is a cross platform software program that is used to develop and read PDF's. The reader is free and available from Adobe's web site and is an absolute essential especially when looking at many (most) of the Government sites that have regulations and related materials available.

To publish PDF's you will have to have Adobe Acrobat (stand alone software package) or it is included with Adobe PageMaker. The nice thing about publishing materials in PDF format is that you do not loose any of the formatting and can easily include graphics. This is great for those course related materials that are already developed and ready to go.

Course Development Time: How much time is required to develop a web course. Now that is a question that cannot be answered. As with all instructional units, the time to develop is based on the complexity of the course and materials. However, for insight purposes, developing course materials is a timely activity. When instructional materials are developed for use in a traditional course setting, a lesson plan is completed, resource materials gathered, assignments developed, and student materials printed. For a Web based course the materials have to be completely done in print format. Words and Graphics have to be developed and organized in a manner that the participant can use. Labor intense. However, once developed, editing and updating goes reasonably easily, still more time than a traditional course but the opportunity to reach more people more often does have its benefits.

 

While there are many other items that could be included in the getting started section, I think that it is best to in fact get started into the course or course material development process.

 

 

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