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The Characteristics of a Good E-Learning Site
E-learning has become a leading distance-education media with the distinction between campus classes and online classes vanishing. (Scott L. Howell) Students are drawn to e-learning for the convenience and businesses are drawn to e-learning for its scalability and ability to reach a large audience. What are the characteristics of a good e-learning site? The characteristics of good e-learning sites are based on proven techniques that begin with the instructional design process and include other consideration like learning theories and styles, accessibility, SCORM and usability.
The instructional design process is the first place to start when creating a new e-learning site. The most popular instructional design model is Analysis, Design, Development, Implementation, and Evaluation (ADDIE.) The ADDIE model was created in 1975 by Florida State University (FSU) for the US Army (ADDIE Timeline). Other design models have been developed, mostly based on the ADDIE and include the Kirkpatrick’s, Rapid Prototyping, Dick and Carey, Learning System (IDLS), Morrison/Ross/Kemp Model, Rapid E-Learning Pro, Understanding by Design or the Backward Design, Kolb's Experiential Learning Theory and the Objective, Activities and Resource (OAR) model.
Learning Theories and Styles
Learning theories are important in the design of instructional materials. Theories can be classifies in categories such as behaviorism, constructivism, social learning, humanism and cognitive that helps shape and define the outcome of instructional materials.
E-Learning sites are appropriate for presenting all three basic learning styles: visual, auditory and kinesthetic. Learning styles describe the way people learn; people tend to use one learning style over the others. When creating an e-learning site it is important to consider the differences in individual’s learning styles. Learners achieve more when the environment includes their learning style. (What's YOUR Learning Style?)
Web Accessibility is based on Section 508 of the Rehabilitation Act and was created in 1998 to help include people with disabilities and inspire technological developments that will help achieve these goals. Applying accessibility to e-learning sites ensures all students with disabilities are able to access the Web. (Section 508)
Sharable Content Object Reference Model (SCORM) is a unit of material that is shared across multiple system formats. SCORM does not create new reference models but simply uses these existing standards and then tells developers how to properly use them together.
SCORM gives a DVD analogy on their website; the ability for a DVD to play on either a Toshiba or Panasonic player is from using a set of standards, if standard were not used, each DVD would have to be formatted to comply with each DVD players. E-Learning used to have this problem before SCORM was created. (Rustici: SCORM Explained)
Jakob Nielsen has conducted years of user studies on interacting with computer sites. Based on his research he has come with five components of usability: learnability, efficiency, memorability, errors and satisfaction. Other usability factors include navigation, architecture, writing for the web, readability, presentation and the ability to balance people’s needs to technology. (Nielsen)
What are the characteristics of a good e-learning site? The characteristics of a good e-learning site includes the application of a sound instructional design method, learning theories and learning styles, web accessibility, SCORM and proven usability techniques.
(n.d.). Retrieved 03 03, 2011, from What's YOUR Learning Style?: http://people.usd.edu/~bwjames/tut/learning-style/
(n.d.). Retrieved from Section 508: http://www.section508.gov/index.cfm?&FuseAction=Content&ID=12
(n.d.). Retrieved from Rustici: SCORM Explained: http://scorm.com/scorm-explained/
ADDIE Timeline. (n.d.). Retrieved from Performance, Learning, Leadership, & Knowledge: http://www.nwlink.com/~donclark/history_isd/addie.html
Nielsen, J. Designing Web Usability. New Riders Publishing.
Scott L. Howell, P. P. (n.d.). Retrieved from Thirty-two Trends Affecting Distance Education: An Informed Foundation for Strategic Planning: http://www.westga.edu/~distance/ojdla/fall63/howell63.html