THE CHALLENGE OF DESIGNING AND EVALUATING 'INTERACTION' IN WEB-BASED DISTANCE EDUCATION
Charlotte Gunawardena, University of New Mexico, United States
WebNet World Conference on the WWW and Internet, in Honolulu, Hawaii Publisher: Association for the Advancement of Computing in Education (AACE), Chesapeake, VA
The World Wide Web (WWW) is increasingly being used as a medium to deliver distance education at the post-secondary level. However, an examination of a significant number of web-based courses for adult learners indicates that they are predominantly designed to transmit information to the learner rather than foster the teaching and learning process in a dialogic manner. These courses disregard Knowles'(1990) principles of andragogy especially the principle of using the adult learner's experience in a learning situation, and lack the design of interaction that promotes collaborative learning. This view was confirmed by Boshier et. al. (1997) in their survey of web-based courses for adult learners. They note that while the web holds considerable potential for learner interaction, few courses use much of its interactive capability. Most do not provide opportunities for collaborative learning. They note that the chief difficulty is not technological, but conceptual, as many instructional designers or teachers are obsessed with objectives and the assessment of students and arranging information in a hierarchical order. They have unwittingly or naively endorsed a transmission model of learning similar to what happens in a traditional or face-to-face classroom. If the web is to be used as a versatile medium for adult learning, then, careful attention must be paid to the design of interaction that can foster the negotiation of meaning, the validation of knowledge, and the construction of knowledge through social negotiation. Learner - centered learning environments based on constructivist principles where the focus is on learner initiated inquiry and exploration are far more suitable for adult learners than the transmission model of learning which is based on the notion that learners are empty vessels to be filled up with the teacher's knowledge. Constructivist learning environments provide multiple perspectives and real world examples, encourage reflection, and support collaborative construction of knowledge through social negotiation (Jonassen, 1994). Instructional design models based on behaviorist principles that are used to design and develop instruction for traditional classes do not offer much guidance for the design of instructional strategies for two-way interactive distance education systems. Instructional designs must address the complex interrelationships between learning task, media attributes and the learner's cognitive processes. The design of interaction that facilitates adult learning and the evaluation of the learning experience that occurred as a result of that interaction has been a challenge to many web designers.
Gunawardena, C. (1999). THE CHALLENGE OF DESIGNING AND EVALUATING 'INTERACTION' IN WEB-BASED DISTANCE EDUCATION. In Proceedings of WebNet World Conference on the WWW and Internet 1999 (pp. 451-456). Honolulu, Hawaii: Association for the Advancement of Computing in Education (AACE).
© 1999 Association for the Advancement of Computing in Education (AACE)
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