What is “Universal Design?”

For more information on “Universal Design” for accommodating a diverse target audience, view these URLs:



The Instructional Use of Learning Objects – Online Version

This is the online version of The Instructional Use of Learning Objects, a new book that tries to go beyond the technological hype and connect learning objects to instruction and learning. You can read the full text of the book here for free. The chapters presented here are © their respective authors and are licensed under the Open Publication License, meaning that you are free to copy and redistribute them in any electronic or non-commercial print form. For-profit print rights are held by AIT/AECT. The book was edited by David Wiley, and printed versions of the book are published by the Association for Instructional Technology and the Association for Educational Communications and Technology. If you find the online book useful, please consider purchasing a printed copy.


How interactive are your distance courses?

Here’s a link to a paper that addresses assessing interaction in distance learning.


Mobile Learning Project

This is the official “Mobile Learning” project site for in-depth research of mobile web technologies used to enhance learning domains for academic and corporate training.

Research is currently underway to benchmark technologies, applications, and environments that are using handheld devices for education and training. Such devices under study include cell phones, PDA’s, hand held PC’s, and other proprietary portable devices.

The goal of the Mobile Learning project is to discover how mobile devices can deliver ehancements to already employed media and various technology applications that are used in face-to-face classroom instruction, as well as virtual learning domains


Critical factors to instructional design

The World Wide Web provides unprecedented access to learning institutions, as learners are no longer inhibited by geographic boundaries (“Culture, cognition and instructional design for the world wide web: An Australian inquiry,” 1998). Technological advancements present political, social, economic, and instructional challenges (Potter, 1990) that designers must address.

“A variety of social factors affect the development, implementation, and spread of technology” (Surry & Farquhar, 1996). Common categories of social factors impacting the adoption of new instructional strategies include: 1) educational need, 2) user characteristics, 3) content characteristics, 4) technology considerations, and 5) organizational capacity (Surry & Farquhar, 1996). These social factors which affect adoption and utilization of instructional strategies should be considered as strongly as the effectiveness of the strategy (Surry & Farquhar, 1996). The time and resources expended toward developmental efforts may be in vain if the social conditions prevent the adoption of a given instructional innovation.

“Instructional design for Web-based learning systems cannot, and does not, exist outside of a consideration of cultural influences” (“Culture, cognition and instructional design for the world wide web: An Australian inquiry,” 1998). These cultural affects parallel the social considerations previously mentioned but can be more specific in nature. A society can contain a multitude of varying cultural norms and mores which undoubtedly influence perceptions and should be considered within the scope of the instructional design.

I agree that cultural, economic, social, and political factors do undoubtedly affect the design and implementation of instructional strategies. The challenge for designers is to identify the factors specific to their application context and to determine what accommodations can be made to ensure accessible instruction.


Culture, cognition and instructional design for the world wide web: An Australian inquiry. (1998) Retrieved April 2, 2004 from, http://node.on.ca/networking/july1998/feature2.html

Potter, G. (1990). Computer-related media portability in international distance education: Making informed decisions. Journal of Research on Computing in Education, 23(2), 284-298.

Surry, D. W., & Farquhar, J. D. (1996). Incorporating social factors into instructional design theory. In M. Bailey & M. Jones (Eds.), Work, Education, and Technology. DeKalb, IL: LEPS Press.