E-Learning Design Quality

E-Learning Design Quality

Panagiotis Zaharias (Athens University of Economics and Business, Greece)
Copyright: © 2009 |Pages: 9
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-60566-198-8.ch117
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Abstract

A critical review of the literature was conducted which resulted in the formulation of an e-learning research agenda with a focus on quality and e-learning design issues. The e-learning research agenda summarizes the most commonly identifiable research dimensions regarding e-learning design that influence e-learning quality. It includes issues such as: • Implementation of learner-centered design paradigms (Hsi & Soloway, 1998; Norman & Spohrer, 1996; Soloway, Guzdial, & Hay, 1994). Humancomputer interaction and human factors researchers as well as cognitive scientists have been actively involved in this strand of research. • Implementation of effective pedagogy for the design of e-learning courses and the subsequent development of instructional design guidelines (Clark, 2002; Dimitrova & Sutcliffe, 1999; Govindasamy, 2002; Weston, Gandell, McApline, & Filkenstein,1999). Furthermore, effective pedagogy includes investigation and incorporation of cognitive methods (such as learning styles and strategies, problem solving, metacognition, etc.) and research in the development of new instructional design models (Alavi & Leidner, 2001; Clark, 2002; Clark & Mayer, 2003). Researchers from Educational Psychology and Instructional Design have been researching such issues. • Guidelines and frameworks for quality assurance and evaluation (Barbera, 2004; Boud & Prosser, 2001; Johnson & Aragon, 2002; McGorry, 2003; Sonwalkar, 2002 ). This strand of research transects the aforementioned two dimensions and can be considered an umbrella for e-learning developments.
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Background

A critical review of the literature was conducted which resulted in the formulation of an e-learning research agenda with a focus on quality and e-learning design issues. The e-learning research agenda summarizes the most commonly identifiable research dimensions regarding e-learning design that influence e-learning quality. It includes issues such as:

  • Implementation of learner-centered design paradigms (Hsi & Soloway, 1998; Norman & Spohrer, 1996; Soloway, Guzdial, & Hay, 1994). Human-computer interaction and human factors researchers as well as cognitive scientists have been actively involved in this strand of research.

  • Implementation of effective pedagogy for the design of e-learning courses and the subsequent development of instructional design guidelines (Clark, 2002; Dimitrova & Sutcliffe, 1999; Govindasamy, 2002; Weston, Gandell, McApline, & Filkenstein,1999). Furthermore, effective pedagogy includes investigation and incorporation of cognitive methods (such as learning styles and strategies, problem solving, metacognition, etc.) and research in the development of new instructional design models (Alavi & Leidner, 2001; Clark, 2002; Clark & Mayer, 2003). Researchers from Educational Psychology and Instructional Design have been researching such issues.

  • Guidelines and frameworks for quality assurance and evaluation (Barbera, 2004; Boud & Prosser, 2001; Johnson & Aragon, 2002; McGorry, 2003; Sonwalkar, 2002). This strand of research transects the aforementioned two dimensions and can be considered an umbrella for e-learning developments.

Learner-Centered Design

Soloway et al. (1994) were the first to identify the need for designing learner-centered courses and technologies that will address users as learners. They pointed out the need for the learner-centered design (LCD) paradigm as the equivalent approach of user-centered design (or human-centered design). User-centered design (UCD) is a philosophy and a process. It is a philosophy that places the users at the center (Norman & Draper, 1986); it is a process that focuses on cognitive factors (such as perception, memory, learning, problem-solving, etc.) as they come into play during users’ interactions with software.

The goal for LCD is to design software that “make people more effective learners,” that make them want to learn and know how to learn beyond the computer task at hand. It was supported that learners should be put at the center of the design process along four dimensions: (a) understanding (for the learner) is the goal, (b) motivation is the basis, (c) diversity of learners is the norm, and (d) learners’ growth is the challenge (Soloway et al., 1994).

Norman and Spohrer (1996) combine learner-centered approach with the latest developments in learning theories: learners are motivated to seek out new knowledge when they confront real problems at hand; the goal is active exploration, construction, and learning, and not the passivity of the lecture attendance and textbook reading. Norman and Spohrer (1996) focused their analysis on three dimensions of instruction: (a) engagement, which is tightly associated with motivation; (b) the provision of rapid compelling interaction and feedback help make learners motivated and engaged; and (c) effectiveness, referring to whether learners achieved their learning goals and viability, which includes the issue of scalability regarding the technological infrastructure (authoring tools, design tools, component software standards, etc.) as well as the social and cultural context of use (integration into existing learning/training activities etc).

Key Terms in this Chapter

Affective Learning: One of the three main domains/categories of learning objectives. Learning objectives in the affective domain focus on the learner’s interests, emotions, perceptions, tones, aspirations, and degree of acceptance or rejection of instructional content (Belanger & Jordan, 2000). Affective objectives include feelings, values, appreciation, enthusiasms, motivations, and attitudes (Krathwohl, Bloom, & Masia, 1964).

Instructional Design (ID): 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).

Usability: A key concept of human-computer interface. ISO standard (1997, 1999) views usability as a measure of the quality of a software system: “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” (Bevan, 2001 p. 536).

Quality: Usually defined in relation to a set of guidelines or criteria. The same broad approach is currently being applied to information provided over the Internet. In this article, quality of e-learning design can be seen along Web usability and instructional design criteria.

Motivation to Learn: Motivation as a concept is intimately linked with learning (Schunk, 2000) and refers to what people will do rather than what people can do. It is closely related to arousal, attention, anxiety, and feedback/reinforcement (Keller, 1983; Wlodkowski, 1981). Motivation can be intrinsic or extrinsic (Schunk, 2000): extrinsic motivation has external causes, such as social approval/disapproval, rewards, or avoiding negative consequences. Intrinsically motivated action is that which occurs for its own sake, action for which the only rewards are the spontaneous effects and cognitions that accompany it (Wlodkowski, 1981). Intrinsically motivated behaviors require no external supports or reinforcements for their sustenance.

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