A directory of resources inthe field of technical communication.

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Assessing a Hybrid Format   (peer-reviewed)   (members only)

As college instructors endeavor to integrate technology into their classrooms, the crucial question is, 'How does this integration affect learning?' This article reports an assessment of a series of online modules the author designed and piloted for a business communication course that she presented in a hybrid format (a combination of computer classroom sessions and independent online work). The modules allowed the author to use classroom time for observation of and individualized attention to the composing process. Although anecdotal evidence suggested that this system was highly effective, other assessment tools provided varying results. An anonymous survey of the students who took this course confirmed that the modules were effective in teaching important concepts; however, a blind review of student work produced mixed results.

Katz, Susan M. Journal of Business and Technical Communication (2008). Articles>Education>Instructional Design>Online


Can You Teach Me Moodle?

Teachers are a very pragmatic lot and love to borrow good stuff. Give’em a good one in Moodle and they will come! If a science teacher has a great solution using Moodle for a problem or idea her class and say, an English teacher sees it and ‘gets it’ - you can bet the English teacher will at least try or ask how to go about it. And coming from a colleague and a fellow ’struggler’ is a much more powerful thing than coming from the school’s main Moodle peddler like me.

Lasic, Tomaz. Human (2009). Articles>Education>Instructional Design>Online


Communication as the Foundation of Distance Education   (peer-reviewed)

Communication plays a vital role in learning, not only with respect to expository and discussion methods of instruction, but at a more consequential level in the development of higher mental processes through acquiring and learning to manipulate symbols. This has been so at least since the early days of Greek society where education of the citizen primarily was concerned with the ability to express oneself in a thoughtful manner in order to develop a better society. Isocrates, one of the first Western educators, stressed the relevance of speech in sharpening thought and judgment; his emphasis on the relationship between education and speaking well became the standard throughout the ancient Western world.

Brooks, Robert F. Kairos (2002). Articles>Education>Instructional Design>Online


Computer-Mediated Conferencing: Teaching in a Virtual Classroom   (PDF)

Asynchronous desktop conferencing, or computer-mediated interaction, is one of the new technologies in education. A videocourse with an interactive conferencing component was used successfully in a distance course for graduate students in technical communication. The technology allowed students to collaborate, peer review, and conference at their own pace without coming to campus. Computermediated conferencing has promise as a teaching tool for technical communication.

Coppola, Nancy W. STC Proceedings (1996). Articles>Education>Instructional Design>Online


Corporate Software Training: Is Web-Based Training as Effective as Instructor-Led Training?   (PDF)   (peer-reviewed)   (members only)

Web-based training has been both acclaimed as a self-paced, consistent, stand-alone alternative to traditional instructor-led training and disparaged for its high development costs and dearth of qualified trainers. Critics especially question its effectiveness. This case study tests the effectiveness of a stand-alone web-based training program and compares the results to that of an identical instructor-led course. The course provides highly task-oriented instruction for a computer software package and was developed using a proven instructional design methodology. The data from this study show that web-based training is as effective as instructor-led training for stand-alone software application training in a corporation.

Coppola, Nancy W. and Robert Myre. IEEE Transactions on Professional Communication (2002). Articles>Education>Instructional Design>Online


Course Authoring Systems: A Review

Many instructor-led courses are being considered for conversion to electronic or distance delivery. A recent HRD survey by the American Society for Training and Development predicts that by the year 2000 only an estimated 54.8% of training will be instructor-led, compared to 80% in 1996. By contrast, the market for training delivered via new technologies is expected to go from 10% in 1996 to over 35% by the year 2000. Web-Based Training (WBT) is expected to account for a sizable portion of these electronic course developments and conversions.

Phillips, Vicky. GetEducated.com (1998). Articles>Education>Instructional Design>Online


Design Once: Use Again and Again and Again…   (PDF)

You can either do it over and over again; or, you can design it once and use it again and again. The decision to create reusable learning modules need not be an expensive one. It just requires modular design.

Horton, William K. III. STC Proceedings (1998). Articles>Education>Instructional Design>Online


Designing Accessible Web Based Courseware with Authoring Tools

Creation of Web based courseware has become easier and quicker, particularly, for non-Web experts with the advent of authoring software which allows authors to put together resources without requiring to learn HTML. However, there are problems regarding the accessibility of resources produced by such software, and this article discusses the nature of these problems and how they can be overcome.

Sloan, David. TechDis (2000). Articles>Education>Instructional Design>Online


E-Learning and Legislation

Using electronic media for learning and teaching is widespread. E-Learning offers opportunities for staff to convey material in a variety of ways and ultimately on 'anytime, anyplace' basis. E-learning materials can range from the simple act of putting lecture notes on line to simulations of real life. This means that distance learning (both off and on campus) is a realistic possibility, with students able to take part in class discussions via email and online discussion forums, and at the same time being able to remotely access materials and information. These materials do not need to be static web pages, as technologies such as broadband improve audio and video may be made available on a faculty Intranet allowing students to review material already covered, or prepare for lectures and tutorials. For example, medical students may review a video of clinical procedures 'streamed' over the intranet and then discuss them in a tutorial, the flexibility of streaming would allow the students to view the video at the their own pace and at times which suit them.

Sloan, Martin. TechDis (2002). Articles>Education>Instructional Design>Online


Experience-Enabling Design: An Approach to ELearning Design (I)

This paper draws inspiration from diverse media to understand what constitutes experience. In doing so, it seeks directions for building experience into design of elearning products.

Krishnan, L. Ravi and Venkatesh Rajamanickam. uiGarden (2006). Articles>Education>Instructional Design>Online


Experience-Enabling Design: An Approach to ELearning Design (II)

Layout decisions like the course structure, navigation, media, etc., affect the experience of the product. For a learner, the ease and intuitive way of getting in, moving around and exiting are the experience factors. How do we bridge this gap between layout and experience?

Krishnan, L. Ravi and Venkatesh Rajamanickam. uiGarden (2006). Articles>Education>Instructional Design>Online


Facilitating Interactivity in an Online Technical Communication Course   (PDF)   (members only)

Several researchers have discussed the important role of interactivity in promoting student learning and socialization, especially in online courses. Facilitating interactivity in an asynchronous, web-based course, however, presents a number of challenges. Such a course, in technical communication, was developed at Florida State University incorporating three interactive components: threaded class discussions, peer editing groups, and collaboration on a group project. Lessons learned from the development and implementation of this course may assist other instructors in developing and teaching online technical communication courses.

Latham, Don. STC Proceedings (2002). Articles>Education>Instructional Design>Online


FAQs About Your First CBT   (PDF)

A comprehensive overview of computer-based training for technical communicators new to the subject.

Wokosin, Linda. Intercom (2004). Articles>Education>Instructional Design>Online


Gauging the Value of Online Grade Posting: An Inquiry into Full Disclosure

With the continued development of the Internet, distance learning initiatives and Web-based mechanisms designed to support traditional classroom pedagogies are here to stay, and traditional notions of teaching are forever changed. Online colleges and universities like the University of Phoenix already boast burgeoning enrollments, as students flock to a curriculum that will gladly meet them on their own terms and in their own homes and offices. On the Web, teaching moves from brick and mortar classrooms with thirty students entering and leaving every hour, on the hour, to a compendium of synchronous and asynchronous experiences characterized by bulletin board posts, downloads, real-time chats, file transfers, and video and audio files. Web-based approaches to teaching writing and rhetoric are, generally speaking, multivalent, offering new and important capacities that surpass some of the dimensional and practical constraints of the traditional written page. Moreover, many of the practices common in Web-based pedagogy are well supported by theories of dialogism and negotiated learning, and those in the computers and composition community have long trumpeted these benefits.

Knievel, Michael. Kairos (2001). Articles>Education>Instructional Design>Online


Heuristics for Sustainable Distance Education   (peer-reviewed)

Discusses eight conditions for technological change that can support innovation in educational settings. These conditions, which were first directed toward library contexts and then studied in a variety of education-related contexts, encapsulate the majority of sustainability issues associated with distance education. These eight conditions are not exhaustive, but programs that achieve many of them will probably experience a high degree of sustained success.

Selber, Stuart A. CPTSC Proceedings (2003). Articles>Education>Instructional Design>Online


Hither, Thither, and Yon: Process in Putting Courses on the Web   (PDF)   (peer-reviewed)   (members only)

Educational institutions are employing a variety of processes to support Web-based courses.  In our efforts to help faculty mount such courses, we found it helpful to divide course material into knowledge-based versus skill-based elements, and to develop activities that capitalize on the unique environment of the Web.  In this article, we discuss our successes and failures, and cover some legal issues we discovered that affect how we use both preexisting and student-produced materials.

Thrush, Emily A. and Necie Elizabeth Young. Technical Communication Quarterly (1999). Articles>Education>Instructional Design>Online


Learner Access in the Virtual Classroom: The Ethics of Assessing Online Learning   (peer-reviewed)

Web-based instruction is often valued because of the way hypertext and dynamic visual media may enhance course content. The advantages of virtual space are framed in terms of 'access' - access to broader dimensions of ideas, access to academic and non-academic databases and information, access to diverse learning communities.

LaFond, Larry. Kairos (2003). Articles>Education>Instructional Design>Online


Making Educational Software and Web Sites Accessible: Design Guidelines Including Math and Science Solutions

Students with disabilities are increasingly placed in inclusive classrooms where they learn alongside their peers. This poses a challenge to teachers and students because instructional materials may not be available in a form that is accessible to the disabled student. Inaccessible materials stigmatize students with disabilities by preventing them from using the same materials as their peers and can limit their educational opportunities. As technology becomes more prevalent in classrooms, students with disabilities face even more challenges in keeping pace with their classmates.

Freed, Geoff, Madeleine Rothberg and Tom Wlodkowski. WGBH (2003). Articles>Education>Instructional Design>Online


Making the Grade, or How to Upgrade an Online Class   (PDF)

Because online technical communication classes, as well as classes with several online components, are no longer a novelty, teachers must plan coursework and technology use to better meet students’ needs. To improve my online teaching methods and plan future courses, I follow these guidelines: 1. Prepare students to use e-mail efficiently; 2. Prepare students to use the class chat room for meetings, office hours, and required discussions; 3. Maintain a flexible assignment schedule while enforcing the final deadline; 4. Help students gain access to computers; 5. Develop pleasant working relationships with technical support personnel; and 6. Develop course information for students with different learning styles.

Porter, Lynnette R. STC Proceedings (2001). Articles>Education>Instructional Design>Online


Moving Instruction to the Web: Writing as Multi-Tasking   (PDF)   (peer-reviewed)   (members only)

This study evaluates the effectiveness of presenting Web-based assignments within the technical communication service course. Current research on using the World Wide Web (Web) and Internet as a teaching resource investigates online writing courses, Distance Education (DE), and hypertext authoring. The literature indicates good reasons for moving instruction to the Web, but there is little description of why this migration is needed in terms of the kinds of learning achieved through Web-based writing, nor is there much specific discussion of what type of useful instructional space can be built with the Web. This study is intended to provide support for centering more instruction within the environment of the Web. This article describes a study using a Web site designed for technical communication instruction. It defines the types of learning students experienced when using the site and presents samples of student work representing a wide range of skill development, both traditional and digital, that support moving instruction to the Web in immediately useful ways.

Kramer, Robert and Stephen A. Bernhardt. Technical Communication Quarterly (1999). Articles>Education>Instructional Design>Online


Paradigms Restrained: Implications of New and Emerging Technologies for Learning and Cognition   (peer-reviewed)

Mary B. Shoffner, Marshall Jones, and Stephen W. Harmon survey a broad range of educational technologies, including those mechanical and those philosophical, and conclude that it is the underlying pedagogical philosophy, and not the delivery mechanism, that most affects what students learn.

Shoffner, Mary B., Marshall Jones and Stephen W. Harmon. Journal of Electronic Publishing (2001). Articles>Education>Instructional Design>Online


Putting A College Course Online: A Development Log   (PDF)

The high dropout rate for many online college courses is due in part to a failure to adapt teaching materials and methods to the medium and to user needs. The author joined an intensive instructional design project and developed an online college course using WebCT with courseware development software. Constructivist pedagogy and today’s instructional technology are a good match, giving online instructors the conceptual and practical tools they need to construct a rich learning environment. The emphasis on user analysis and meeting users at the point of need inherent in technical communication is also vital to the success of online learning.

Pringle, Mary Margaret. STC Proceedings (2002). Articles>Education>Instructional Design>Online


Recreating the Technical-Writing Classroom on the World Wide Web   (PDF)

Many of the limitations inherent in technical-writing instruction on the World Wide Web can be overcome by intelligently designed web sites. Web-based instruction here refers to courses, in either the corporate or academic setting, where most ofthe instructional materials are supplied over the WorId Wide Web and where students and instructors communicate and exchange writing projects through e-mail. Acknowledging that few instructors have the expertise or technical support to create such web facilities, this paper makes available annotated Per1 source code for instructors ’ use or customization.

McMurrey, David A. STC Proceedings (1997). Articles>Education>Instructional Design>Online


Seven Key Steps to Successful ELearning Implementations

Implementing any type of elearning program can appear daunting, no matter what the size of the organization. I have worked on a variety of implementations, ranging from international programs to very centralized, but each still came with their unique a set of challenges. This being the case, it is always good to have a general plan in place so as to maximize the success of your elearning program. Sure, there will be unique components for your particular project, but these 10 areas will ensure that you cover the major items so as to avoid the bigger problems down the road.

Ferriman, Justin. LearnDash (2013). Articles>Education>Instructional Design>Online


Teaching Professional Writing Online with Electronic Peer Response   (peer-reviewed)

For primarily practical reasons, professional writing courses are increasingly being taught totally or partly online. These practical reasons concern me because I do not believe that a pedagogical practice whose benefits are being actively debated by scholars, such as online education, should be utilized only or primarily because it is seen as a way of saving or making money. However, online education is one pedagogical practice that, I believe, has great potential to improve writing. A year-and-a-half ago, I taught several partly online sections of my professional writing course, and I discovered that a strategy valuable in my traditional sections became invaluable in my online sections: electronic peer response.

Tannacito, Terry. Kairos (2001). Articles>Education>Instructional Design>Online



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