Distance learning using Web learning and collaborative tools is a

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					             Research Reveals Five Imperatives for Effective Web-based Instruction

(New York, N.Y.) Whether designing fully-customized Web-based instruction or purchasing it
off-the-shelf, many challenging questions are sure to be raised by corporate training personnel:
What is the optimal mix of self-study and live, instructor-led study? Should the instructor’s role
be primarily directive or facilitative? To what extent does learner-to-learner collaboration
enhance learning? “Too often, such questions are answered intuitively, without the benefit of
research findings that can take a lot of time to locate and sift through”, said Frank Troha, a New
York area learning design consultant.
To help address the issue, Troha reviewed numerous educational studies conducted from 1995 to
present, distilling their conclusions into a list of 18 concisely worded findings. “While reading
through my summary of research, some common themes or imperatives emerged: learner-
centered, instructor-guided instead of instructor-directed, interactive and peer-collaborative.”
According to Troha, as a general rule Web-based instruction should be shaped by those
imperatives – all derived from research -- and one more that is a given in today’s business
environment: cost-effectiveness.
As an aid to effective decision-making, Troha offers his summary of research free of charge to
other designers and purchasers of Web-based learning. Here is a sample:
   1. An effective orientation to Web-based instruction enhances three types of interactivity
      required for optimal learning: learner-to-instructor, learner-to-learner and learner-to-
      instructional material. The orientation should consist of instructor’s welcome, learning
      objectives, course outline, types of learning activities to expect, how learning will be
      evaluated, course schedule, instructor’s expectations, contact information and next steps
      (e.g., learners are to communicate their own expectations and complete an ice-breaker
   2. Though often underestimated, asynchronous learning (self-paced) strongly supports a
      collaborative learning environment by enabling every learner to contribute when, where
      and at a pace that is personally preferable. Additionally, learner contributions, which are
      typically submitted and posted in writing, tend to be more beneficial than those made
      during live sessions.
   3. Giving learners control over when and how they develop knowledge and skill tends to
      increase the individualization of instruction, a sense of personal responsibility for
      learning and learning efficiency. However, until learners are able and willing to take
      control, expecting them to be self-directed is likely to hinder rather than enhance
Troha believes more empirical research on the use of Web-based instruction in employee
training is needed. “I’ve discovered that most studies conducted so far have focused on distance
education as opposed to Web-based corporate training. And much of the research has been
anecdotal rather than scientific.” That said, he believes many corporate instructional designers
and purchasers of existing courseware are likely to make better decisions if they take the five
imperatives and his 18-point summary of research findings into account. To order Troha’s full
report, write to: frank@franktroha.com.


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