What is a podcast?

I put together this presentation as part of a larger initiative to train NIU faculty on the use of a new podcasting building block in Blackboard.

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For the highest quality version of this tutorial, view the flash version. Also, this presentation is posted in .mov, .m4b (enhanced podcast), and on YouTube.

Online instructional design “toolbox”

My “toolbox” of important concepts, processes, and tools for the design of instruction within a distance education program is by no means complete nor is it neatly organized. As my practical understanding of online instruction continues to grow with my theoretical basis of knowledge, I become evermore cognizant of the complexities of the design process. While this list of important considerations is by no means complete, it serves as a preliminary basis for further research and discussion.

**Online training must be convenient, compatible, and revisable (Welsh & Anderson, 2001). This includes a variety of important technical elements that must be considered by designers. “Chunking” of training content into small manageable chunks for delivery is an important means to this end.

**Articulation of online pedagogy for the given online learning system is critical. In fact, the unique attributes of the online pedagogy need to be capitalized upon during development (Dabbagh, Bannan-Ritland, & Flannery Silc, 2001). Dabbagh et al. note, “In order for WBI to be effective, it must be pedagogically driven, dynamically designed, interaction oriented, and content specific. Focus should be placed on designing a pedagogical approach appropriate for the content, inclusion of organization and interaction strategies that enhance the student’s processing of the information, and integration of the medium’s attributes to support the designated goals and objectives of the course” (p. 352-353).

**All members of the learning community need to have equal access to the necessary technology (Hedberg, Brown, Larkin, & Agostinho, 2001). This goes beyond simply making sure people have Internet access, but to ensure that they have the necessary software and computing skills to successfully navigate the online learning environment. The idea of accessibility for all is an increasingly important consideration for both web designers and online instructional designers alike (Nielsen, 2000). Online content should be designed for the “lowest common user” – in which I am referring to those users with the least level of accessibility or computing skill.

**The open, flexible, and distributed learning environment of the Web should be maximized in the development of training that is accessible for all. The elements of Khan’s Web-Based Learning Framework (Khan, 2001) should be addressed in the development process, which includes the following dimensions: pedagogical, technological, interface design, evaluation, management, resource support, ethical, and institutional.

**Bandwidth is also an important limiting factor to consider, which refers to the volume measure of information flow (Moore & Lockee, 2001). Bandwidth places formidable limits upon what can occur at any given time during the instructional event. Moore & Locke (2001) state, “In web-training environments, the delivery network infrastructure must be considered so that training developers can avoid creating instruction that diverts a learner’s attention due to unnecessary delays” (p. 274). This coincides with the concept of keeping training accessible and for all learners.

**An element of self-assessment should be included in the design (Hedberg et al., 2001). Learners should be encourage to reflect upon their learning experience and share those reflections with others in the learning experience.

**A sense of community among learners should be developed (Palloff & Pratt, 1999). Online learning provides the opportunity for engaging collaborative learning experiences based on a constructivist approach to education. The development of community is among one of the key processes in the development of a collaborative learning environment. As learners feel connected with the instructor and fellow students, they will not only feel much more engaged but they will be more apt to contribute to the discussion that takes place.

I could continue to list important attributes to the design of an online learning program, but I am quickly realizing that this assignment could turn into a term paper or a thesis if I’m not careful! I will stop typing for now, and I look forward to adding additional “tools” to my “toolbox”.

– Jason


Dabbagh, N. H., Bannan-Ritland, B., & Flannery Silc, K. (2001). Pedagogy and web-based course authoring tools: Issues and implications. In B. H. Khan (Ed.), Web-based training. Englewood Cliffs, NJ: Educational Technology Publications.

Hedberg, J. G., Brown, C., Larkin, J. L., & Agostinho, S. (2001). Designing practical websites for interactive training. In B. H. Khan (Ed.), Web-based training. Englewood Cliffs, NJ: Educational Technology Publications.

Khan, B. H. (2001). A framework for web-based training. In B. H. Khan (Ed.), Web-based training. Englewood Cliffs, NJ: Educational Technology Publications.

Moore, D. R., & Lockee, B. B. (2001). Design strategies for web-based training: Using bandwidth effectively. In B. H. Khan (Ed.), Web-based training. Englewood Cliffs, NJ: Educational Training Publications.

Nielsen, J. (2000). Designing web usability. Indianapolis, IN: New Riders Publishing.

Palloff, R. M., & Pratt, K. (1999). Building learning communities in cyberspace: Effective strategies for the online classroom. San Francisco, CA: Jossey-Bass.

Welsh, T. M., & Anderson, B. L. (2001). Managing the development and evolution of web-based training: A service bureau concept. In B. H. Khan (Ed.), Web-based training. Englewood Cliffs, NJ: Educational Technology Publications.

WBT design for volunteer training

Web-based training (WBT) has been defined as a, “Flexible and robust delivery method for organizations seeking an online learning solution” (Driscoll, 2001, p. 183). Within the children’s ministries volunteer development process at Christian Life Fellowship, WBT offers a tangible solution to providing accessible, convenient, and interactive for volunteer training. Careful attention to design impacts the learning environment (Hannum, 2001). Therefore, several important design factors should be considered in the development of a WBT solution for volunteer development.

One important design consideration is the model of WBT that is selected. The computer mediated communications model is one of particular interest. According to Hannum (2001), “The purpose of the computer mediated communications (CMC) model is to facilitate communications between instructor and students or among students” (p. 156). The CMC model is a means to circumvent time barriers, allowing learners to participate in the learning experience at their own personal time schedule (Hannum, 2001). Volunteers regularly comment that personal schedule constraints often prevent them from participating in training opportunities. A hybrid WBT model combining online training materials and a discussion forum (Hannum, 2001) would provide a mix of instructive and constructive learning activities.

The learning experience should include both quality instructional materials and dependable support for learners. The online instructional presentations would be an integral component of each volunteer training session. Instructional presentations delivered via the Web can take a variety of forms and generally support interaction between the learner and instructor (Loughner, Harvey, & Milheim, 2001). In addition to instruction and collaboration elements, a training session should include, “a variety of directly useful performance supports such as job aids and reference sheets” (Peal & Wilson, 2001, p. 151).

Beyond the selection of the learning model, other various features of the online learning environment should be considered. The learner should be provided with guidance throughout the learning process (Hall, 2001). The website through which the training will be provided should be thoroughly organized (Hall, 2001), ensuring that learners understand the requirements of the learning activities and they are able to navigate the online learning portal. Learners should have the freedom to freely navigate the lesson, moving among the major sections of the session (Hannum, 2001).

These are just a few of the numerous design factors that should be considered in the development of WBT for volunteer development in the religious education setting.

– Jason Rhode


Driscoll, M. M. (2001). Developing synchronous web-based training for adults in the workplace. In B. H. Khan (Ed.), Web-based training. Englewood Cliffs, NJ: Educational Technology Publications.

Hall, R. H. (2001). Web-based training site design principles: A literature review and synthesis. In B. H. Khan (Ed.), Web-based training. Englewood Cliffs, NJ: Educational Technology Publications.

Hannum, W. (2001). Design and development issues in web-based training. In B. H. Khan (Ed.), Web-based training. Englewood Cliffs, NJ: Educational Technology Publications.

Loughner, P. D., Harvey, D. M., & Milheim, W. D. (2001). Web-based instructional methos for corporate training curricula. In B. H. Khan (Ed.), Web-based training. Englewood Cliffs, NJ: Educational Technology Publications.

Peal, D., & Wilson, B. G. (2001). Activity theory and web-based training. In B. H. Khan (Ed.), Web-based training. Englewod Cliffs, NJ: Educational Technology Publications.

Accessibility resources – Sheryl Burgstahler

Sheryl Burgstahler provides a wealth of information on her web page concerning accessibility issues in educational technology:


What is “Universal Design?”

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