Course Design: Embedding Technology in a Lesson

An effective eLearning course or lesson must be based on theories of online instructional design and technologies that will ensure successful outcomes. However, educators that are actively teaching do not always have the time to evaluate theories for eLearning. Furthermore, those who design courses for online learning may not have an understanding of current theories that support effective eLearning  (Hirumi, 2012). New instructional design theories specific for Internet learning may continually emerge (Synder, 2009).

Technology in itself does not promote learning, but it is an integral part of developing effective elearning based on learning theories. The ultimate goal of any online course is to affect a change of growth and development and learning theories are about how people learn (Wang, 2012).  When this happens through the use of technology and the Internet, old learning frameworks have the potential to meld with new emerging learning theories. Online instructors and designers must continually evaluate these theories if they wish to reap the results of effective eLearning. This is especially true as new online courses are continually being added to institutions of higher learner as well as the many massive open online courses.

However, it is easy for instructors and learners to become overwhelmed by the number of learning theories and how best to use them, even when they understand that theories advance practice (Wang, 2012). "Educators and scholars should unite theories with practice," as stipulated in Eastern thought (Wang, 2012, p. 9).

The online course that I am proposing is a subject that I am not yet proficient, but anxious to understand -- Learning theory for online learners. I am proposing a course for those who need to design effective eLearning courses based on sound eLearning theories, the framework that supports successful online learning.  The engine of delivery for online courses is the Internet and technology, but the framework of the course is instructional learning theory. 

The ASSURE lesson plan provides a template for selecting technology as part of the design, using the acronym, Analyze learners, State standards and objectives, Select strategies, technology, media, and materials, Utilize the media and materials, Require the learners to participate, and Evaluate the effectiveness of the lesson (Free CSS Templates, 2012). This is not a learning theory, but a template for implementing a learning theory.

The first task of designing a course or lesson, based on a theoretical framework is to determine the specific learning community, their prior knowledge, experience, and preferences (Mohanna & Waters, 2008). The targeted learners in this case are those who have a desire to create effective elearning courses based on learning theory. This could be the graduate student like myself, the teacher of a traditional school who must offer an online course, or business associates designing in-house training. Within these groups are those with varying degrees of knowledge, from novice to expert.  

The proposed lesson will be based on a learning environment that is asynchronous, available at the discretion of the adult student. Activities will include linked readings, video and slide presentations, and discussion forums, to address the varied preferences of learning styles and the ASSURE template (Free CSS Templates, 2012).  All of these activities will be embedded in the virtual learning classroom.

The theoretical framework for a course is the next aim, considering the audience and learning environment (Haythornthwaite & Andrews, 2011). It is good practice to try to align theory and practice by looking at the research on human learning (Hirumi, 2012). The course designer must decide on a learning theory and use strategies, tools and techniques that implement the desired learning objectives within that framework (Hirumi, 2012).

As theory can sometimes be complicated, involving a range of thoughts, and emerging as new theories in the field of elearning, it is important to provide this information in as many formats as possible, yet be clear and understandable. The ultimate goal is to improve the success of online courses through the use of theoretical frameworks, and therefore it is important that those who are designing these courses gain an understanding of learning theory and its application. For example, novices need courses based on learning theories that differ from experts because novices use a working backwards approach to problem solving while experts use a working forwards approach (Mohanna, et. al, 2008).  Cognitivist learning theory may overlap with constructivist theory, as novice progresses to expert. An effective course would address both of these learners, or provide a beginning course and an intermediate one.

Embedded technology fulfills the need for learners to absorb information, and can address various modes of reading, listening, watching, discussing (Horton, 2011).

A Proposed Lesson Plan with Embedded Technology: Understanding Learning Theories for eLearning Design

Adult learning theory:  Andragogy

2.  Watch Two  Videos:  

3.  Discussion Forum:  Share your thoughts about andragogy versus pedagogy or pedagogy leading to andragogy.

Theories of Instructional Design:

1.  View:

2.   Read:

3.  Watch:
  • Cognitive Load Theory

4.  View:

(Hirumi, 2012)

5.  Discussion Forum:  Share thoughts on learning theories. 


Free CSS Templates.  (2012).  Learning Modules: ASSURE Model-based lesson plan.  Retrieved from http://thanomsing.com/courses/sp11/modules/design/assure_model.htm 

Haythornthwaite, C., & Andrews, R. (2011).  E-learning Theory and Practice. London, England: Sage.

Horton, W. (2011). E-Learning by Design. San Francisco, CA: Wiley.

Hirumi, A. (2012). The design and sequencing of online and blended learning interactions: A framework for grounded design. Canadian Learning Journal, 16(2), 21-25. Retrieved from http://search.ebscohost.com/login.aspx?direct=true&db=bth&AN=79461798&site=eds-live

Makki, B., & Makki, B. (2012). The impact of integration of instructional systems technology into research and educational technology. Creative Education, 3(2), 275-280. Retrieved from  http://www.doaj.org/doajfunc=openurl&genre=article&issn=21514755&date=2012&volume=03&issue=02&spage=275

Mohanna, K. & Waters, M. (2008). Multiple perspectives on learning: But which way for instructional  design? Education for Primary Care, 19, 563-568. Retrieved from http://proxy1.ncu.edu/login?url=http://search.ebscohost.com/login.aspx?direct=true&db=ehh&AN=35156501&site=eds-live

Snyder, M. M. (2009). Instructional-design theory to guide the creation of online learning communities for adults. TechTrends: Linking Research and Practice to Improve Learning, 53(1), 48-56. Retrieved from http://search.ebscohost.com/login.aspxdirect=true&db=eric&AN=EJ838556&site=eds-live; http://dx.doi.org/10.1007/s11528-009-0237-2

Wang, V. C. X. 1., vcxwang@gmail.com. (2012). Understanding and promoting learning theories. International Forum of Teaching & Studies, 8(2), 5-11. Retrieved from http://search.ebscohost.com/login.aspx?direct=true&db=ofs&AN=82187857&site=eds-live

1 comment:

  1. Fabulous work on this again, Deila.

    You mentioned the difficulty that teachers and instructors have keeping up with theories. This is the reason that we have another category of people contributing to the education enterprise, the scholars. That is the role for which you are preparing in this program.

    You also mentioned the rapid emergence of the field and the difficulty of keeping up. This without doubt one of the biggest challenges for scholars in this field. A theory is a collection of related concepts that help to explain and predict behavior in a given setting. When a field like elearning is emerging so quickly the existing theories quickly loose their power to explain and predict. This is why it is especially important to have capable scholars (such as yourself) who are able to participate in the process of theory testing and verification.
    Formal methods for theory generation exist, one of the most widely recognized being classic grounded theory methodology. (cGTM). This is a process for discovering theory through a systematic analysis of data taken from the actual participants in a given arena. It is especially powerful in settings where existing theory is inadequate or where the field is emerging so quickly that adequate theories do not exist, the exact conditions of the elearning field .

    You might find cGTN interesting and a worthy challenge for your obvious capabilities and scholarly curiosity. For a broad introduction,see:


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