By Grant MacEwan College
Instructional design of web based distance education courses is written about frequently, partly due to the focus on instructional design in distance education course development. In a print-based distance education context, the course is designed prior to the beginning of the course and its form is fixed during the time the course is offered. Revisions of course material are difficult to make because changes often result in the reprinting of large portions of the course so occur infrequently. In web-based distance education, there is a similar emphasis on course design prior to the course offering, although revisions are easier to make than in print-based course modules. As well, instructor-student interaction can be built into web-based course development, increasing the instructor’s opportunities to assist students in completing the course. Web-based courses can include a continuum of delivery mechanisms from providing all course content and course activities in a web-based format to various combinations of a web-based format with other distance delivery formats, including print materials, site-based activities and all forms of communication methods such as mail, e-mail, telephone, fax, discussion lists, chat rooms, audio- and video-conferencing. Web-based instructional design raises issues about collaborative design process, program development, course design, web-based course authoring tools and copyright and intellectual property rights. Instructors and administrators considering web-based course delivery need to address these issues early in the development process as a way to decrease the time and cost of development. Collaborative course development
The development and implementation of web-based distance courses is a time consuming process, typically requiring more resources than the development of a print-based course. (Gibson and Herrera, 1999; Brand, 1998). Baird & Monson (1992) note, As the technology of distance education becomes more diverse, increasingly sophisticated support organizations will be needed to manage distance education networks and help faculty design, produce, and deliver courses…As digital and analog technologies continue to merge, distance education applications, among others, will also require increasing interdependence between what may still be discrete campus units: broadcasting, teleconferencing, video productions, and computer technology. (p. 73) Web-based course development can be done by instructors, however, in order to develop an online program, many authors recommend using an instructional design team including the instructor, and/or an instructional designer and various support staff to deal with multimedia and graphical elements, to provide ongoing assistance to students and instructors during the course and to provide assistance with the administrative elements, such as registration procedures, distribution of course materials (if required), evaluation of course delivery, etc. (Duin, 1998; Gibson & Herrera, 1999, Hirumi & Bermudez, 1996). The team approach to course development requires ongoing and frequent communication between team members. Until team members are experienced in web-based course development, all members will experience frustration as they acquire and practice the skills needed to design the course. The benefit of a team approach to web-based course development is that it is easier to set a quality standard for online course designs, to review "course content for quality and instructional design," to formatively evaluate the course delivery, to set standards for instructor response times in interacting with students (Meyen, Lian et al, 1998) and to develop instructor and student competencies required to participate in both the development and implementation of web-based distance courses. Viewing course development as a team effort with frequent communication between...