Advanced Web-based Training Strategies: Unlocking Instructionally Sound Online Learning / Edition 1

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Advanced Web-Based Training Strategies fills the gap in theliterature available on this topic by offering a volume thatincludes meaningful, applicable, and proven strategies that cantake the experienced instructional designer to the next level ofweb-based training. Written by Margaret Driscoll and SaulCarliner—internationally acclaimed experts on e-learning andinformation design—Advanced Web-Based TrainingStrategies provides instructional designers, e-learningdevelopers, technical communicators, students, and others withstrategies for addressing common challenges that arise whendesigning e-learning. Balancing educational theory with thepractical realities of implementation, Driscoll and Carlineroutline the benefits and limitations of each strategy, discuss theissues surrounding the implementation of these strategies, andillustrate each strategy with short scenarios drawn from real-worldonline learning programs representing a wide variety of fieldsincluding technology, financial services, health care, andgovernment.

Some of the specific design challenges this book addressesinclude learning theory for e-learning, m-learning, simulations andgames, interactivity, communicating visually, writing for thescreen, preparing introductions and closings, mentoring andcoaching e-learners, and blended learning.  

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What People Are Saying

From the Publisher
"This book is a must read for any learning professional that wantsto move beyond the hype and basic cookie-cutter approach toe-learning. Margaret Driscoll and Saul Carliner know how to‘walk the walk’, and their uncluttered view of thefield will leave you recharged and once again excited aboutbuilding out your repertoire of instructional techniques."
—Steven Teal, vice president of learning services, MariottInternational

"In a time when boring page-turning courses threaten to destroythe credibility of e-learning, this book offers innovative ideasfor moving beyond the doldrums and truly aligning e-learningtechnology with best- practice instructional strategies. It is amust read for instructional designers and other e-learningpractitioners."
—Bryan Chapman, e-learning analyst,

"At last! An e-learning book that puts principles of designfirmly back into the driving seat. For those disillusioned with‘straitjacketed’ and ineffective instructional content,this book promises a liberating array of tools andtechniques."
—Patrick Lambe, president, Information and Knowledge ManagementSociety

"I found myself nodding with agreement as I read AdvancedWeb-Based Training Strategies. Margaret Driscoll and SaulCarliner have provided a much needed resource for those working inthe field of e-Learning design."
—Rik Hall, manager, instructional technology, University of

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780787969790
  • Publisher: Wiley
  • Publication date: 3/25/2005
  • Edition description: New Edition
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 500
  • Product dimensions: 8.19 (w) x 9.37 (h) x 1.37 (d)

Meet the Author

Margaret Driscoll is a consultant with the human capital managementpractice of IBM Global Services. As a consultant, she works withorganizations interested in strategic planning, e-learning,instructional technology, blended learning, competency modeling,and return on investment. She is a featured speaker at national andinternational training events and the author of the best-sellingbook Web-Based Training. Her work has appeared in Journal ofPerformance Improvement, Training and Development, Chief LearningOfficer, and Learning Circuits. Dr. Driscoll also teaches atTeachers College of Columbia University in New York City andSuffolk University in Boston.

Saul Carliner is an assistant professor of educationaltechnology at Concordia University in Montreal. His research andteaching interests include the design of online materials forworkplace learning and communication and the management ofworkplace learning and communication groups. His other booksinclude Designing E-Learning, An Overview of Online Learning, andTraining Design Basics. Dr. Carliner is a research fellow of theAmerican Society for Training and Development, a certified trainingand development professional, and a fellow and past internationalpresident of the Society for Technical Communication.

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Read an Excerpt

Advanced Web-Based Training Strategies

By Margaret Driscoll

John Wiley & Sons

ISBN: 0-7879-6979-6

Chapter One

Using a Problem-Based Approach to Designing e-Learning

Some argue that a science of design is possible and represents an important goal. Cross, reporting on a number of studies in design, argues that design is quite different from science. While scientists focus on the problem, on discovering the rule that is operating, designers focus on the solution, on achieving the desired result. Rowland, 1993, p. 81

In This Chapter

This chapter introduces our general approach to design, a problem-based approach. In doing so, this chapter explores some of the myths surrounding e-learning and the role and nature of design in the process of addressing real-world challenges with e-learning. Specifically, this chapter considers the following questions:

Why won't simple solutions solve fundamental design problems with e-courses and e-curricula?

What is the design of e-learning?

What is the problem-solving approach to design described in this book?

* * *

In early 2001, the executives at a large corporation decided to move its highly regarded management training online. Even though the training department had no experience with e-learning, executives hoped to duplicate the success that the corporation found in the classroom online, while significantly slashing training delivery costs.

Without a choice, the trainingdepartment took up the challenge of transferring the curriculum. Adopting the concept of blended learning, in which different courses in a curriculum are delivered by different media (thus blending the delivery method), instructional designers moved some of the material into self-paced web-based training units (called asynchronous learning, because the instructor and learner are separated by both time and geography) and the rest into a live virtual classroom (a classroom session conducted online, with an audio connection, PowerPoint(r) slides, and the ability to interact with the instructor, called synchronous learning because learners and the instructor are both online at the same time).

Because the management training curriculum had been taught extensively for years, the instructional designers knew that they had effective content that was properly tailored to the needs of the intended learners. So the designers focused their efforts on converting the materials. Content that required interaction with an instructor was placed in the live virtual classroom. Content that stood alone was placed in a web-based training format. Once designers determined that material would be presented online, designers followed procedures for converting the material that had been suggested in basic books on designing e-learning. In total, course designers converted five days of classroom training.

Because they felt that the content was well-tested, the designers did not conduct early pilot tests with prospective learners of the first units of the program that they finished developing to make sure that their approach would be successful. They conducted the pilot test only after the entire course had been converted. Unfortunately, the course received mixed reviews from participants in that pilot. Management looked at the comments, specifically focusing on the issue that the logistics of the blended course were confusing to learners and administrators. Concerned that the blended curriculum would fail, management terminated the project rather than see it through to completion.

This conversion is like so many early efforts by organizations to move content online: full of high hopes, only to be dashed by the realities of production and implementation. In fact, studies suggest that 62 percent of learning technology initiatives fail to meet expectations (Van Buren & Sloman, 2003). In this case, like so many others, management entered the project with a realistic business goal-reducing training expenses. Course designers entered the project with extensive experience with the content and the design process. Learners entered the course with every interest in learning. But the course failed because of a simple fact: designing e-learning is different than designing classroom and workbook-based learning.

Although helpful, previous experience with the design process itself does not guarantee that the designers reach a successful end. That requires consideration of a number of issues that apparently were not addressed by the sources consulted by the designers of this failed online curriculum.

e-Learning is easy to get started with, but succeeding is another story. And the statistics bear this out. Adoption rates for e-learning are much slower than originally forecast. For example, although one prediction made in the year 2000 suggested that 53 percent of all corporate learning would be online by 2003, actual adoption rates suggest that, by 2005, e-learning represents at most 30 percent of all corporate learning (Sugrue, 2004). Although some proponents of e-learning have claimed that it offers a superior learning experience, satisfaction levels are disappointing. In a survey conducted by DDI in 2002 (reported by Van Buren & Sloman, 2003), corporations in several countries were asked to rate the effectiveness of e-learning in their organizations. On a scale of 1 to 10 (with 10 being high), the average rating of effectiveness was 3.9. And a number of people just think most e-courses don't work. For example, one major food manufacturer had to customize 75 percent of the off-the-shelf e-courses it purchased because the content didn't work with its staff. So much for the plug-and-play value of e-learning (Van Buren & Sloman, 2003).

Lest you believe that the case for e-learning is hopeless because e-learning has not been adopted at predicted rates and is not generating exceptional levels of satisfaction, consider these other signs. For the past five years, training directors have repeatedly reported that e-learning is at least moderately successful in meeting their needs (Carliner, Groshens, Chapman, & Gery, 2004). Barron (2002) reports that e-learning has shown success in contexts such as certification and training on information technology.

In other words, e-learning is a relatively new approach to instruction, and instructional designers are just starting to find ways to make it work in their organizations. Although it has not achieved the hype predicted for it during the e-learning-is-the-next-killer-app years of the late 1990s and early 2000s, it is also not a dismal failure. It is, like most instructional design challenges, a complex challenge that involves identifying and addressing a variety of issues. e-Learning succeeds when designers understand the educational, economic, and technical challenges they face and the ways to best use the computer to address these challenges.

Why the Simple Solutions Won't Solve Fundamental Design Problems with e-Curricula and e-Courses

Addressing this complexity requires an equally complex approach to design. In fact, the more complexity that designers encounter, the larger and more varied the number of solutions they bring to a situation. This body of solutions is called a portfolio of techniques and represents a "bag of tricks" that instructional designers can call on when faced with an e-learning problem.

The Solutions to Effective Teaching Online

Unfortunately, that's not the message that the industry press offers us. In an economy and industry that emphasizes "next big thing," "experts" offer easy and allencompassing solutions to complex problems of learning and instructional design. These solutions have served as one of the biggest impediments to instructional designers developing a rich portfolio for designing e-learning. Before we can explore the development of such a portfolio, we have to consider the easy and all-encompassing design solutions for e-learning that have been offered and why they are neither easy nor all-encompassing.

For starters, consider these claims:

e-learning is more effective than classroom learning.

Games are the only way to teach online because the today's youngsters seem to be excited by games (Prensky, 2002).

Simulations are the best way to teach online and all learning should be interactive and engaging (Aldrich, 2003). Enterprise learning is the answer because it's much cheaper and more efficient to manage all learning from a central source (Gold, 2003).

e-Learning must be personalized because different people have different learning styles and computers can tailor the learning experience to individual needs.

Learning comes in mix-and-match pieces that can be recombined at the moment of need to create a course that addresses a learner's unique content needs (Longmire, 2004). Finally, some people believe that we just haven't measured enough to prove that e-learning is effective.

The Problems with the Solutions

But think about this practically. Are the strategies that make a great algebra class the same ones that make a great physical education class? Civics? Cooking? Private investigator licensing? These subjects share nothing in common, so why should they be forced to share a pedagogy in common?

Perhaps, then, e-learning is not a noun to describe the learning experience, but an adjective that merely identifies the medium of instruction. The nouns are "mathematics," "manufacturing training," "new hire orientation," and "rocks for jocks" (that is, geology for nonscientists). The courses each have unique material, unique sets of learners, unique development and implementation budgets, and unique development schedules and are offered by different types of learning institutions-some offering courses for academic credit, some offering them to maintain an existing job, some just for fun.

For designers to take their e-learning to the next level, they have to move past these "I've got the universal solution" approaches because they simply aren't universal. Consider the responses to each of the universal solutions presented in the previous section:

The effectiveness of e-learning compared to the classroom: The research suggests that e-learning is merely as effective as classroom-based learning-no more, no less. These comparison studies also assume that the material in both formats has been professionally designed (Russell, ongoing). The limitations of game-based learning: Although youngsters do enjoy their computer games, most of them recognize that learning and computer games are not the same activity and have different expectations for the two. The limitations of simulation learning: Simulations are useful for teaching many types of content (Sugrue, 2004), but not all content. For example, one need not simulate the experience of swimming. It can be taught by letting learners actually swim (an off-line experience).

The limitations of enterprise learning: Although enterprise-wide learning is a great strategy, there are few courses that both the receptionist and the CEO need to be enrolled in. Furthermore, because many organizations like to empower their operating units, resulting differences in operations may result in differences in training that render enterprise training inappropriate.

The limitations of learning styles: Although learning styles are a popular theory, few studies show that learning styles really contribute to actual learning achievement (Sugrue, 2004). So addressing them in the design of courses is a time-consuming effort that pays few dividends. Even if learning styles were proven to be effective, the difference between effectively presenting content for verbal and visual learning styles involves more than presenting visuals first or second, which is the dominant approach to such design. Rather, developing courses to reach different styles requires that the courses be re-developed completely for each learning style. A course for visual learners would rely almost exclusively on pictures and other visuals, while a course for verbal learners would rely almost exclusively on text. The limitations of reusable learning content: Although some learning materials can indeed be reused, the use of reusable learning content-called reusable learning objects-in most corporate environments-especially those in organizations with fewer than 50,000 workers-has not worked. As one director of a major consulting firm that decided to implement learning objects admitted, "It was a disaster." Even in private, most learning objects experts admit that much of the concept does not yet work in practice, saying that efforts to design learning objects focus more on standards for using them with particular types of software than the instructors who will actually need to use them.

The need for more measurement: Although some people claim that e-learning produces a high return on investment, empirical studies conclude that e-learning has failed to generate the productivity gains it has promised. In fact, one of the fundamental justifications for computerizing learning has been the promise of increased productivity of educators. Computers have led to such productivity gains in other fields. For example, by letting customers order products online, companies have achieved significant reductions in inventory costs and improvements in delivery times. e-Learning has not delivered such benefits. For example, some proprietary studies say that the only savings that have been realized from e-learning have been travel-related. In addition, many instructors who teach online courses find that they take more work than their classroom equivalents (National Education Association, 2000).

In other words, rather than looking for a single silver bullet to effective e-learning, instructional designers might look inward-at the specific performance problem or content to be presented-for suggestions on ways to effectively teach online.

The Right Way?

When looking at these specific design challenges, another approach that's prevalent within the world of instructional design is to look for the "right way" to do things. The "right way" often refers to research-based solutions to challenges. When addressing problems like these, designers consider what might be more effective: teaching a lower-level psychomotor skill with visuals alone or teaching one with visuals and sound.

The answers make a number of assumptions:

That indeed a researcher has conducted research on this specific problem. Despite the claims of many authors and speakers (for instance, Wallace [2004] claims that training and the related field of human performance technology are "research-based disciplines"), in many instances, there is no research.

In those situations for which research has been performed, the research also needs to be relevant to the case at hand. In some cases, the research was performed with a group of learners who share nothing in common with yours. For example, most of the science of multimedia is based on research with U.S.-based college students. Most of these students are in their late teens and early twenties and have not held full-time professional employment (Clark & Mayer, 2002). Most trainers work in environments that employ people who are considerably older and who have held professional employment for an extended period of time. Both the physical capabilities and learning strategies employed by the research group and the group of actual learners substantially differ. In the research groups mentioned earlier, most of the participants speak and write English as their first language, but much training goes to people who use English as a second or third language. A substantial body of research suggests that second-language learners have different strategies than first-language learners.

In addition to differences among learners, many of these studies controlled the learning situation so extensively that the content under study substantially differs in reality from the problem about which the designer has an interest. For example, some studies suggest that off-topic learning games distract interest. But the studies only looked at brief learning segments (less than 4 minutes). In most actual learning programs, these activities often exceed 15 or 30 minutes. Therefore, the studies may not provide complete insights into the situation (Thalheimer, 2004).


Excerpted from Advanced Web-Based Training Strategies by Margaret Driscoll Excerpted by permission.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

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Table of Contents

Figures and Tables.


Introduction: Getting the Most from This Resource.


Chapter 1: Using a Problem-Based Approach to Designinge-Learning.

Chapter 2: Philosophies and Theories Guiding the Design ofe-Learning.


Chapter 3: Storytelling and Contextually Based Approaches toNeeds Assessment, Design, and Formative Evaluation.

Chapter 4: Blended Learning as a Curriculum Design Strategy.

Chapter 5: Informal Learning.


Chapter 6: Simulations.

Chapter 7: e-Mentoring and e-Coaching.

Chapter 8: m-Learning.

Chapter 9: Live Virtual Classroom.


Chapter 10: Openings and Closings.

Chapter 11: Exposition Techniques for Writing e-LearningContent.

Chapter 12: Interaction.

Chapter 13:Visual Communication Techniques.


Chapter 14: Seeking Ideas Outside the Norm.

Appendix A: Rubric for Assessing Interactive Qualities ofDistance Learning Courses.

Appendix B: Websites for Training Professionals.

Appendix C: Professional Organizations.


Name Index.

Subject Index.

About the Authors.

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