E-Learning is emerging as one of the fastest organizational uses of the Internet; it is also applicable across all areas of workforce training. However, the quality of e-learning has been questioned. High dropout rates for e-learning courses reflect that learners fail to complete e-learning courses (Ganzel, 2001). The current research, the problem that most of the designers face is that established sets of heuristics for both designing and evaluating e-learning do not exist. Learning is the main goal of all e-learning systems and applications, which is rather abstract in nature and difficult to evaluate. In this chapter, we will explore a set of design guidelines for asynchronous e-learning applications as well as their practical implications.
Key Terms in this Chapter
Interface: An interface is a specification that exists between software components that specifies a selected means of interaction, by means of properties of other software modules, which abstract and encapsulate their data.
Usability: Usability is the extent to which a product or a system can be used by specified users to achieve specified goals with effectiveness, efficiency, and satisfaction in a specified context of use (ISO, 1997).
Design Principles and Guidelines: A principle is a very broad statement that is usually based on research about how people learn and work. Each principle is only a goal. Guidelines are more specific goals that HCI and document design specialists distil from the principles for different users, different environments, and different technologies (Dumas & Redish, 1999).
Motivation: Motivation can be defined in terms of the learner’s overall goal or orientation. It can also be defined as character’s individual desires or goals, which propel them into action.
Design Patterns: A design pattern captures the essence of a successful solution to a recurring usability problem in interactive systems. It consists of a name, ranking, sensitizing example, context, problem statement, evidence (rationale, examples), solution, sketch, references to other patterns, synopsis, and credits (Borchers, 2001).
Instructional Design (ID): ID is a process of resolving instructional problems through systematic analysis of learning conditions. Instructional design encompasses the analysis of learning and performance problems, the design, development, implementation, and evaluation of instructional and non-instructional processes and resources intended to improve learning and performance mainly in educational settings and the workplace (Reiser, 2001).
Heuristics: Heuristics is a problem-solving technique in which the most appropriate solution is selected using rules. Interfaces using heuristics may perform different actions on different data given the same command.
Asynchronous E-Learning: Asynchronous learning describes a learning event in which people cannot communicate without time delay. Examples of asynchronous e-learning are self-paced e-learning courses taken via the Internet; online chats, discussion groups, and e-mail; streamed audio/video Web presentations; and so forth (Driscoll, 2002).
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