Designing Web-based Learning

Please find below my reflection on the various topics covered throughout this unit.


According to Norman and Dohery- Poirier 2001 describe web based instruction as an adjunct to teacher led classrooms and e-learning. A very interesting article when one reads the article twelve years after it was first published. Many of the points outlined throughout the article I agree with.

If we as teachers remember that the World Wide Web is a tool like the other items at our disposal then we will then be able to prepare ourselves to use the tool in a way to maximize learning.

The authors describe the following advantages of Web-based instruction in the classroom?
  • Uses a teaching method that is effective, efficient and enjoyable
  • Allows teachers to spend more time working with students in small groups and individually
  • Offers students a self paced learning environment
  • Facilitates multiple levels of instruction in one room with a single teacher
  • Environmentally friendly
  • Students can go to the web site to find instructional materials they may have missed

Ten years later and the ability to reflect on their claims one can see that their vision was certainly one of foresight. I only look at my current situation doing this course and others offered for the technology program. Given my current situation and where I am in my professional career I don’t think I would not be able to avail of this opportunity if it meant taking an absence from work to attend post-secondary. This too can also be seen in the coastal communities of Newfoundland and Labrador where distant education has played a major role in allowing students the ability to receive their high school graduation requirements.

We must remember that the World Wide Web is a tool. Tools do not create the project. The user of the tool does. In order to create one must know how to use the tool correctly. A carpenter must be familiar with all the tools available to them in order to create something. If they do not know how to use those tools then the output is less than desirable. Teachers must instruct their students on how to use the tools of learning. If we remember that then our students will be better prepared to use the tools like the World Wide Web and be lifelong learners.

Kirkpatrick’s Four Level Model the most widely used perspective in corporate e-learning (i.e. Peak & Berge, 2006; DeRouin, Fritzsche & Salas, 2005 is something I feel can also be used for determining whether or not e-learning is something teachers can use to better prepare them for 21st Century learning. The model identifies four levels to measure training effectiveness.

  • Reactions: Simply refers to the attitudes from the participants. Are the participants satisfied with the process? Is it beneficial for them?
  • Learning: Did participants receive the desired results from the e-learning experience?
  • Behavior: It is important that what participants learn from the e-learning experience is applied in the workplace environment.
  • Results: Clearly this level determines whether or not the experience of the participants has proven to be beneficial for the workplace. Did the workplace benefit from the participation of its employees?

Clearly level four “results” can only be evaluated over a period of time long enough to ensure the workplace can determine if there was a “yay” or “nay” response.Phillips (1999) added a fifth level of evaluation to Kirkpatrick’s Model. The return of investment for any place of business is of upmost importance. To send employees to do e-learning is certainly an investment so there must be a return of their investment to ensure the venture will continue. Like level four, time is certainly a factor in determining whether or not there is a positive return of their investment.

When I read through this I thought about how this could be beneficial to the educator and their students. When one looks at the technological tidal wave we as a society are experiencing then we as teachers need to be able to utilize these new technologies from 21st century leaning and ensure our student have the ability to learn them and utilize them for their development along the educational journey.

Using e-learning would certainly provide opportunities for teachers to engage in professional development. Leaning about these new technologies and how they apply them into their own classroom would certainly keep teachers at the forefront of advancing technology. The monthly staff meeting may be replaced with a weekly or monthly e-learning training session. This of course would be a joint venture involving all stakeholders. By having individuals at the district level deciphering what technologies are available and ensuring teachers have the opportunity to learn about them online then teachers will certainly be much more prepared to provide their students the best possible learning environment. Congruently, one of the main reasons to get involved in a course online training is to be more competent and efficient at the workplace (Skillsoft, 2004)

The question remains whether or not the professional development of teachers about current technological trends in education does this reflect in an improvement of student learning? Like Kirkpatrick’s model I believe time will help to determine if the individuals benefited from the e-learning training their teachers received. One factor that must also be noted here is the individual themselves. Teachers teach in their own manner and students learn in their own style. These are factors that also need to be considered when determining the effectiveness of e-learning training on content delivery to students by teachers.

My feeling is that e-learning training for teachers about new technological trends is certainly a benefit to teachers. When teachers feel they are better prepared to deliver content to their students then the classroom environment is a happy place.

Part of the requirement for each unit is to read assigned articles and reflect and provide commentary as it relates to your teaching philosophy and what this course is teaching. Below is one article assigned for this unit.

March, T. (1999) Ten Stages of Working the Web for Education "…You may have noticed that the first three stages to Web-Use Nirvana had to do with your personal and professional growth. The middle chunk all relate to curriculum design. What ever happened to teaching, with kids, in a classroom?" And then he asks "…So what is the New Job for Teachers?".

What ever happened to teaching, with kids, in a classroom?

When I think of this question I feel nothing has happened to teaching with kids in a classroom. If one thinks of a classroom as a place of learning then we as educators working with kids continue to teach. With the technological tidal wave that continues to flow, teachers need to ride this wave and stay atop of the new trends. Teachers will then be able to be in a better position to teach their students. March explains that the first three stages of working with the web deal with ones personal and professional growth. As teachers it is incumbent on us to be the best prepared before delivering content to their students.

Teachers need to feel comfortable working with computers and consequently the internet. To many times I find whenever I work with teachers on professional development, teachers are very apprehensive about using the computer and going online. So why is this so? I believe they have experiences they have lived or learned from that influence their decision making when it comes to computers. Students on the other hand have no fear of computers and consequently they have no apprehension when it comes to using computers and internet surfing. Teachers need this attitude of feeling comfortable working with the computer and making it their friend. March helps by providing the foundation to prepare the individual for working on the web.

But we still need to understand that the computer and the web are tools that teachers have at their disposal. It is up to the teacher to decide how those tools are to be utilized. There is a time and place inside the classroom environment where computers and the web has its place. We must ensure we do not fall into the television replacing the babysitter scenario. The computer and the web is an addition to teaching not a replacement of teaching. If the individual remembers that then teaching with kids in the classroom is quite real.

So what is the New Job for Teachers?

March describes the new job for teachers as offering authentic, motivating, and compelling learning experiences; using a learning-centered approach to prompt novices to engage in more expert-level endeavors; and teaching both cognitive and people skills that improve students’ success in the world. While I agree with this I am not sure it is as a result of our move to working with the web. I believe it has more to our move towards a constructivist philosophy. According to Langenbach and Bodendorf (1997) describes learning as "an active, self-motivated, context and situation oriented social process" which clears falls under the constructivist philosphy. The most important factor in any learning environment is to focus on how individuals learn, and then use technology to create that learning environment. Such an environment should be learner-centered where students are able to optimize their own learning opportunities. But, as Koonce (1998) points out "I'm not sure that left to its own devices, technology can do all that. ... There's a key role for [teachers] to play as mentors and facilitators of the learning process. We can't forget the high-touch component here" Teachers need to stay the course.