Rose Colored Glasses

Random Thoughts on Instructional Design

Designing Engaging Online Learning Material

I beleive that the bulk of learning is comprised of informal development opportunities. And that the web is a medium that supports informal, random-access education.

For example a couple of weeks ago, I was surfing the internet looking for sites that demonstrated the concepts covered in a presentation that I was developing. During this expedition, I decided to take a detour and catch up on one of the listserves that I subscribe to. While scanning the list, I found a reading list posted by the site moderator. Since he always comes up with helpful little tidbits, I stopped my resource search, opened the posting, and started clicking away. Several levels deep and a couple of hours later, I had picked up some useful tools and found the title and approach for my presentation. Was this learning?… I would venture to say yes… Was it formal in nature?… not necessarily…could it have been? … You bet.

Picture this…. Students open their browser to do something academically productive. During their session, a news feed opens up with some breaking news or perhaps RSS updates of selected blogs. “Hm, that looks interesting,” they say, and proceed to read up on that article, which then leads them to three others which they proceed to open, and one of the instances is an ongoing discussion for a subject they are studying. As timing would have it a guest speaker from a major firm is reflecting on industry today and fielding questions in an associated chat room.

Before they know it, several hours have passed them by, and they have engaged in a very rich, real-life learning experience. Impossible you say…. I think not…. The web is not only like TV with an unlimited number of channels; it’s TV with relationships between channels such that you can’t stop watching at the end of the episode. Imagine watching a documentary on the great pyramids and every construction detail, or every pharaoh, could lead to another show: a documentary about how stones could be moved over great distances and set without mortar or perhaps dramas about the pharaohs lives. That’s what the web is like.

If we can harness the richness of the web within the appropriate scaffolding, successful learning opportunities can be created that provide interaction, usability, and relevance.

For samples of effective strategies and techniques view my “Jumping down the rabbit hole” presentation.

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This entry was posted on July 20, 2005 by in Instructional Design, Techniques.

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