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Creating Web-Based Instructional Materials sample essay

INTRODUCTION

The World Wide Web (WWW) is changing the way we learn and the way we teach. Teaching has embraced the innovative ways that WWW can offer to users. WWW allows dynamic and interactive ways of teaching things which are impossible on printed materials. There are on-line courses, on-line tutorials and virtual classrooms. The key to the success of these teaching institutions that proliferated in the web are the effective instructional materials. WBT is media-rich training fully capable of evaluation, adaptation, and remediation that can provide the available tools to organize and deliver content into well-crafted teaching systems (Tobin & Kesselman, 1999).

PURPOSE

The purpose of this document is to create a general guideline in creating web based instruction materials. The document will take into consideration the methods that are familiar to the author.

GUIDELINES

General Steps

The general steps in making web-based instructional materials consist of the following (Clay, Harlan & Swanson, 1997):
Determining the core competencies to be included the instructional material
Determine the contents of the instructional material based on the core competencies selected.
Deciding the method or strategy used to convey to the users the ideas presented.
Developing the instructional material as a word processed document, an audio or a video material.
Mounting or uploading the material into the web
Providing the feedback portal for users
Beta Testing
Final Modification based on feedback, retest and release

Determining the core competencies

The very first step is deciding the target core competencies for this instruction material. For example, this instruction material may be intended to teach Basic Algebra, Earth Science or Differential Calculus. This will serve as the goal of the web-based instruction material. The intent of the web-based instruction material is to transfer the core competencies from the instruction material to the user. Brainstorming and visiting existing web based instructional materials are good ways of finding the core competencies.

Determining the content

After the core competency has been decided, the next step is to produce a structured content. The content should start from the basic principles of the core competencies towards the complicated areas. The structure therefore should be laid out in such a way that it will start from the least difficult to understand to the most difficult to understand. The content formatting should also take into account that the pre-requisite topics should be place ahead. This means that for the contents that is needed to understand another set of content, should be placed ahead.

Deciding the method or strategy

The method of presentation should be planned before proceeding to the actual development of the material. The method should be based on the target audience of the instructional material. It should be based on the comprehension level of the audience. Novice audience should be given methods that are easy to comprehend such as more images than words. Expert audiences may be presented with more literals than images to maximize the amount of information. Interactive items such as graphs made using either Flash or Java applet technologies should also be considered to convey the relationship between varying variables which can controlled by the user or audience.

Developing the Instructional Material

The development of the instructional material shall be done in the software that handles editing of html files or more complex file formats. HyperText Markup Language (HTML) and Cascading Style Sheets (CSS) are the format of choice as opposed to adobe printable document format (PDF) or word document format. HTML would be more flexible to incorporate interactive objects such as Java applets or Flash Animations. It is the fastest in terms of page loading in the web. The presentation editor software may consist of the following:
Microsoft FrontPage
Microsoft Word with the proper HTML conversion plugIns
HTMLkit
Macromedia Flash
Adobe Photoshop
Other HTML editors and there a thousand available free software in the web

At the start, images, interactive applets, video clips, audio clips, or animated gifs shall be prepared ahead using the appropriate software. Graphics should help to convey information and not just be decorative; each page should have a clear title and includes headers and footers (Tobin & Kesselman, 1999). Pictures can be scanned using a scanner to convert into images in jpg, gif, png or bmp format. The other alternative is to take pictures directly using digital cameras. Video clips can be created using digital cameras with video streaming, or using other digital video recorders. Images can be edited using either paint, Microsoft photo editor or more complex image editing tools such as Adobe Photoshop.

Interactive applets can be generated using Java Development Kit which can be freely downloaded from the web. In order to be able to run java applets the user PC should have Java Runtime Environment to run java applets, again this can be downloaded for free from the web. Video clips can be prepared using Windows Movie Maker. Animated gifs can be prepared using a number of software free or commercial. These are then integrated into the html file using an html document editor such Microsoft Front Page or HTMLKit. We also need the appropriate sound card and speakers to listen to the audio materials included in the presentation.

A summary of all the hardware needed to create instructional materials mentioned above are listed below:
PC with Linux or Windows Operating System
Scanner to digitize printed pictures and images
Digital Camera
Digital Video recorders
Printers
Flash Disk or Pen Drives
Sound Card and Speaker

Mounting the Material into the Web

The html files can then be uploaded into the website using either ftp upload or simply using the available upload managers normally provided by web hosting companies. Documents can be linked directly to the directories of the linking page.

One of the main aspects when mounting materials into the web is to keep material size to minimum. This would help in the uploading process and also in the loading process of the users. We had to think in terms of kilobyte file sizes, not megabytes because delivery over the Web is too slow to expect users to wait around at your web site for large graphics to appear on their screens (Clay, Harlan & Swanson, 1997). This is because we have to consider that there are still a number of users who are using modems as slow as 28.8 kbps.

Providing Feedback Portals

Feedback portals, or any form or method that would allow users to provide feedback is a very important part of a web-based instruction material. This will provide an easy way to evaluate, test or improve using feedback from users.

Beta Testing

In any form of development, testing is always an integral part. By going through all the possible paths of the web-based instruction material and testing every possible path is essential to insure proper operation of the instruction material. This may also include testing on various web browser tools. Different web browser tools may cause some degree of difference in the presentation of html files. This step also includes proofreading of the entire material. Any bugs, errors or unwanted features shall be recorder for modification or correction.

Final Modification based on Testing, Retest and Release

After the beta testing, the errors shall be corrected and retested until no errors persist. Finally, it shall then be released with a proper version control.

References

Clay, S. Harlan, S. and Swanson, J. (1997). Continuing Web Education. Retrieved from the USCB Library website: http://www.library.ucsb.edu/universe/clay.html, on January 16, 2007

Tobin, T. and Kesselman, M, (1999). Quantitative and Qualitative Approaches to Research. Retrieved from the International Federation of Library Associations and Institutions website: http://www.ifla.org/IV/ifla65/papers/102-163e.htm

January 17, 2007

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