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Designing Principles for Creating Effective Web-Based Learning Resources in the Geosciences
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Cutting Edge > Web-Based Resources > Before You Begin > Learning Goals > Is Online For You?

Is Online For You


Question: How will online resources affect my teaching.
Answer: A lot more than you think.


Think about what you want to accomplish in this new online resource.

1) Which of your goals can be met partially by online learning?
2) Which of your goals can be met entirely by online learning?
3) Which of your goals can be enhanced by online learning?
4) Which of your goals can be better met by online learning than by traditional methods?

In essence, why do you want to go to the trouble of creating an online educational resource? You will probably have a list of objectives. Once you know what those objectives are and have a relative sense of their importance:

  • How realistic are these prioritized objectives?
  • How much time/knowledge do you need to develop materials that fulfill these objectives?
  • What financial/technical constraints do you need to be concerned about?
  • How extensive is the resource you want to create?

(This list was adapted from the Online Teaching Goals (more info) resource at The Educational Technology Center at Northeastern University.)

Question: How long will it take me to create this web resource?
Answer: A lot longer than you think.


It is important to remember that everything doesn't have to happen immediately. Most classes develop into online resources iteratively with a few new electronic aspects being added each term as the instructor has time and the number of student contributions grows. This chart (http://www.edtech.neu.edu/workshops/materials/course/materials/goals/webusage.htm) , developed by The Educational Technology Center at Northeastern University, shows a useful continuum of classes from fully traditional to entirely online.


Question: Do the benefits of using online resources outweigh the costs of implementing them?
Answer: It depends.


New research is illuminating opportunities and challenges in the use of online resources in teaching.

Opportunities with the Use of Online Resources:
  • enriched course materials through easily integrated text and visuals (Shroder et al., 2002 )
  • interaction that is not limited to a few minutes before or after class or during on-campus office hours (McNeil et al., 2000 )
  • the flexibility to be separated in space and time and still participate fully in class discussions and content (McNeil et al., 2000 )
  • students develop skills in finding information and resources on their own, preparing them for life-long learning (Prothero, 2000 )
Challenges to Using Online Resources:
  • increased technical needs: adequate computer resources, internet connectivity, support services (Hubbard, 1998 )
  • large time commitment to create a resource that is not already available (Hubbard, 1998 )
  • shifting roles and expectations of educators and students (Hubbard, 1998 )

Other Resources

For a general discussion of the educational advantages of web-based material, check out this article by Mark Kassop: Ten Ways Online Learning Matches, or Surpasses, Face-to-Face Learning (more info)

Implementing the Seven Principles: Technology as a Lever is an article by the authors of Seven Principles for Good Practice in Undergraduate Education (Chickering and Gamson (1987) ). This article is an update on the original that addresses the question of what technology is sensible to apply each of the Seven Principles.


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