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WEB DESIGN FOR A LCMS
This discussion fulfilled requirements for a course in the online MEd program at the
University of Southern Queensland, Semester 1, 2007. There is a corresponding website.
Having previously determined that a Learning Content Management System (LCMS)
can be an important tool to promote and facilitate learning in the healthcare environment,
this author will now consider critical components of web design in the LCMS learning
environment (Ibbotson, 2006). There are basic guidelines for web design (Kampherbeek,
2001). These guidelines deal with navigation, accessibility, consistency, simplicity,
visual appeal, backgrounds, texts and images. This discussion explores additional aspects
of web design that are fundamental, noteworthy and essential to motivate healthcare
learners and promote lifelong learning (LLL).
This paper begins with the identification of the intended audience and key challenges
in the healthcare environment in the twenty-first century. The paper will then discuss
design as it relates to the purpose of web based instruction for this audience, and the
types of organization of web sites suitable for this audience and the e-learning
environment. The conclusion will summarize key elements of LCMS web design that
engage the learners and promote professional development in the workplace.
Healthcare professionals are increasingly faced with rapid changes and expectations in
the workplace (Gouthro, 2002; Marrelli, 2006; Smith, 2002). Advances in technologies,
fiscal restraints, global shortage of workers and the aging workforce are major forces
impacting healthcare. A recent action strategy published by a Canadian healthcare
collaborative indicated that if in 2006 all nurses who were 55 years of age had retired
there would have been a resulting loss of 28% of the workforce (CCHSA, 2007). Nagle
(2007), the Senior Nursing Advisor to Canada Health Infoway, emphasized the need to
engage all nurses in elearning LLL endeavors related to issues of eHealth and
In the twenty-first century web based training and web based instruction have
transformed learning opportunities for nurses in the frantic healthcare environment.
Careful consideration must be given to designing the web environment to address the e-
learning needs of these nurses.
Purpose of Online Instruction
It is important to recognize that a successful transition to online learning not only
considers the audience but also the purpose for instruction. The purpose can be
determined by considering the learning needs and the advantages of the LCMS learning
environment for today‟s nurses. Motivation and instruction are two ways in which online
learning materials promote learning (USQ, 2007).
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An important aspect of motivation is the art of engaging the learner in learning.
Considering that in 2004 the average age of the employed registered nurse (RN) in
Canada was 44.6 years, that the majority of RNs are familiar with traditional instructor-
guided education, and the government legislation requires the evidence of professional
continued competency, engaging the learner in web based learning is crucial (Canadian-
Nurses-Association, 2005; , “Health professions act”, 1999; Koerner, 2003). Koerner
refers to motivation as restoring the joy and commitment to professional practice which
enhances the capacity to care with competency.
Online instruction can have various purposes and take the form of training, teaching,
reference, education and/or browsing. These forms will be considered to determine their
relevance to the e-learning needs of nurses in a healthcare facility setting.
Training is activity that leads to skilled behaviour. This narrow focus on skill often
involves a short timeframe (Pollice, 2003). Training is linear and follows a prescribed
procedure. Training allows few digressions to learning the skill or task. Examples of
online training topics in the facility-based healthcare setting could include
Certification in blood-glucose monitoring
Yearly certification in Cardio Pulmonary Resuscitation (CPR)
Certification in parenteral therapy.
These examples would also require face-to-face, hands-on demonstration of each skill.
Teaching is based on a core of material and generally involves longer timeframes.
Teaching has many alternate definitions: to cause to know, to guide studies, to impart the
knowledge of or to instruct by experience (Pollice, 2003). Teaching involves exposure to
theory and deeper understanding. The focus is broader than training and in the process of
e-learning there is some opportunity for individual diversion and digression. The
application of online teaching content in the facility-based healthcare environment
include topics such as
Review of Personal Directives
Implications of the Protection of Persons in Care legislation.
Reference, as a purpose of instruction, provides ready access to a large amount of
information via links. Examples of online reference applications in the healthcare setting
Policies and procedures
Profession-specific or Union-specific information
NurseONE, a portal for nurses that offers career management guidelines,
decision-making support and the opportunity to connect with colleagues (CNA,
The education mode applies to self-directed learners and the presentation of complex
information and design. The learner has opportunity to access and process large amounts
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of information and to conduct independent study. The application of this mode to the
healthcare environment would be indirect. They would pursue this type of learning on an
extended basis for specific long range goals and aspirations. The intranet LCMS may not
be the appropriate format for this type of study.
The intranet LCMS would also be less likely to provide opportunity for browsing.
This mode of online learning is for casual learners with diverse interests and intentions.
Learning in the healthcare LCMS environment would be more deliberate, purposeful and
Types of Organization of Web Sites
Web sites must be organized to match the intended user, the user‟s intent and the
subsequent goals of the designer. Complexity of organization is a major consideration.
The continuum ranges from casual, brief and simple to regular, extended and complex
user interaction (Lynch & Horton, 2002). The intranet LCMS must attract both the
casual and the more-serious user. It is anticipated that as the casual user becomes
familiar with the layout, navigation, functions and potential they will become regular
users of the online learning opportunities for extended study.
Linearity, a second consideration, can be divided into linear and nonlinear. Linear
organization follows a sequence and is suitable for web based training. All users proceed
through the same path to process the information. Learners may proceed at varying pace
throughout the site but all follow the same steps. Learning activities in these sites, such
as multiple choice or quiz or true/false, generally promote passive learning (Robberecht,
2007). While linear organization may be situated in authentic activities, it does not fully
support principles of constructivism, such as participation, collaboration, problem-
solving, and critical thinking (Phillips, 2005; Stein, 1998). The linear organization is
advantageous for learners who require a high level of support and guidance. It is also an
appropriate structure when all learners must learn the same material at generally the same
Training has been identified as linear. For example, there is a specific protocol for
performing blood glucose monitoring which permits no deviations. Quality assurance
reviews identify when there have been breaches in this protocol. Another example
mentioned earlier is re-certification in CPR. Each registrant must read the same manual
and pass the same exam to receive official recognition. Certification in the theory related
to parenteral therapy is therefore another example of the appropriate use of linear
organization. An online review of electronic charting is another way in which the LCMS
could supplement and reinforce computer lab training for various modules of the
Principles of constructivism are applied to a greater extent in nonlinear web site
organization. Nonlinear organization is interactive and contains context-sensitive
(situated) elements (Robberecht, 2007). It often contains multimedia elements such as
video, sound, and visual for enhanced learning. It supports varied levels of knowledge
base and learning styles. It contains active learning elements (active learning) which
require manipulation of elements to achieve an answer. Nonlinear format promotes
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independent study with hyperlinks to enhance the content and relationship of information
on pages within and beyond the site.
Several topics are appropriate for the nonlinear approach. The yearly mandated review
of anaphylaxis is a suitable example. Major areas can be separated into pages, with links
to lead the user to further detail, relevant information, and additional research. Activities
presented in this module include participation in national surveys and research projects,
subscribing to the national informational Listserv, reading the associated magazine,
connecting with persons with allergies, and supporting the educational programs in
The SWOT tool was used to analyze the needs of the audience, the purpose of the site
and the types of organization of web sites (Mind_Tools_Ltd, 2007), This information
will provide direction for the appropriate web design for the various modules in the
Strengths of intranet LCMS learning opportunities:
o Supports review of various mandatory certificate topics
o Supports completion and marking of standard tests
o Potential for offering a continuum of user interaction
Weaknesses of intranet LCMS learning opportunities:
o Unfamiliar medium for many nurses
o Not suitable for hands-on demonstrations and practice
Opportunities associated with intranet LCMS learning opportunities
o Self-directed continuous learning
o Begin with „small steps‟ by introducing slowly
o Build on computer skills learned with staged implementation of the
o Offer as an alternative to traditional face-to-face inservices
o Availability of e-learning modules related to computer literacy
o Supplement, in conjunction with, face-to-face learning opportunities
o Opportunity to demonstrate excellence in design and purpose
o Potential for being motivational for both learners and educators
o Meet learning needs unmet by traditional inservices
o Address varying learning needs: linear and nonlinear
Threats to the success of intranet LCMS learning opportunities
o Isolation from collaboration, impersonal
o Resistance to change
o Poor instructional design
o Not accessible.
Web design for training, teaching and reference instruction requires careful planning
and development and execution. The learner must perceive that the strengths and
opportunities outweigh the weaknesses and threats. This author predicts that as educators
begin to offer training and teaching modules in the LCMS environment the learners will
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begin to access them and recognize their value. The learners will become engaged in this
form of learning.
Nurses are known as quintessential learners and the need for LLL has never been
greater (Koerner, 2003). On a regular basis nurses need to refresh their knowledge, build
on that knowledge and share their knowledge in various ways. They review medication
precautions, actions, and side-effects; they refer to policies and procedures; they regularly
re-certify their skills; they need to keep current in best practice guidelines; they need to
receive and provide support of peers and experts. Online learning opportunities provide
the potential for enhancing this learning.
Effective web design must consider this intended audience, the determined needs and
the appropriate organization of the web site to address those needs. This paper has
explored web design, both motivational and instructional, as it relates to e-learning
opportunities for nurse in the ever-changing healthcare facility setting. The intranet
LCMS can facilitate training, teaching and referencing. The design can support varying
degrees of complexity and linearity to address the e-learning needs of the learners. The
design must address noted strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats related to
The intranet LCMS provides situated learning opportunities beyond the instructional
forms and types of organization reviewed in this paper. Moodle, for example, promotes
its learner-centered, social constructionist pedagogy, which focuses on a blend of
constructivism and constructionism (Moodle, 2006). Moodle supports the facilitation of
participation and interaction via chat, forum and communities of practice formats. These
features and the considerations of web design from this paper will be incorporated into
Assignment 3: Using Moodle as a Learner.
Link to corresponding web site:
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Canadian-Nurses-Association. (2005). 2004 workforce profile of registered nurses in
Canada. Retrieved April 23, 2007 from http://www.cna-
CCHSA. (2007). Within our grasp: A healthy workplace action strategy for success and
sustainability in Canada’s healthcare system: Canadian Council on Health
Services Accreditation. Retrieved April 25, 2007 from http://www.cchsa-
CNA. (2006). NurseONE: The Canadian nurses portal. Retrieved April 26, 2007 from
Gouthro, P. A. (2002). Education for sale: at what cost? Lifelong learning and the
marketplace International Journal of Lifelong Education, 21(4), 334-346.
Retrieved April 22, 2007 from
Health professions act, Alberta Health and Wellness, Government of Alberta(1999).
Ibbotson, Y. (2006). The use of intranet learning content management systems for
professional development: USQ Semester 2, 2006: FET 8662: Virtual
Conference: Contemporary Education Issues.
Kampherbeek, J. (2001). 100 do‟s and don‟ts in web design: Styleguide by SpiderPro.
Retrieved April 22, 2007 from http://www.spiderpro.com/ebooks/styleguide.pdf
Koerner, J. G. (2003). The virtues of the virtual world: enhancing the
technology/knowledge professional interface for life-long learning. Nursing
Administration Quarterly, 27(1), 9-17. Retrieved April 23, 2007 from
Lynch, P., & Horton, S. (2002). Web style guide, 2nd edition. Retrieved April 15, 2007
Marrelli, T. (2006). Nursing in flux: Are you ready to meet the challenge of the future?
American Journal of Nursing, 106(1), 19-25. Retrieved August 8, 2006 from
Mind_Tools_Ltd. (2007). SWOT analysis. Retrieved April 15, 2007 from
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Moodle. (2006). Philosophy. Retrieved April 25, 2007 from
Nagle, L. M. (2007). Informatics: Emerging concepts and issues [Electronic Version].
Nursing Leadership, 20, 30-32. Retrieved March 4, 2007 from
Phillips, J. M. (2005). Strategies for active learning in online continuing education. The
Journal of Continuing Education in Nursing, 36(2), 77-83.
Pollice, G. (2003). Teaching versus training. Retrieved April 21, 2007 from http://www-
Robberecht, R. (2007). Interactive nonlinear learning environments [Electronic Version].
The Electronic Journal of e-Learning, 5, 59-68. Retrieved April 15, 2007 from
Smith, M. K. (2002). Globalization and the incorporation of education. Retrieved April
23, 2007 from http://www.infed.org/biblio/globalization.htm
Stein, D. (1998). Situated learning in adult education. Retrieved April 23, 2007 from
USQ. (2007). FET 8610 Creating Educational Web Environments. Retrieved February
28, 2007 from http://www.usq.edu.au/course/material/fet8610/2007/
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