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Designing Online Tutorials

Designing Online Tutorials


Jonassen, D.H. (2000). Toward a design theory of problem solving. Educational Technology Research and Development, 48/4, 3-85.

Scardamalia, M., & Bereiter, C. (2003). Knowledge building. In Encyclopedia of education, 2nd ed., pp. 1370-1373. New York: Macmillan Reference

Schneiderman, B. (2003). Leonardo’s Laptop: Human needs, and the new computing technologies. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press

Models for Online Learning Environments

When we add technology to the learning mix, it does not imply that learning will improve or even occur.  Educational ideas come first and the use of technologies may help to realize those ideas. Technologies are affordances (Scardamalia & Bereiter, 2003) in the sense that they are used to assist the development and growth of ideas but are not a necessity for the learning itself. Consider technology when it naturally reinforces learning outcomes and can be used as a conceptual tool for problem solving, collaboration, and researching.

Carl Schneiderman (2003) proposes a model for thinking about the role of technology in learning in Leonardo’s Laptop: Human needs, and the new computing technologies. The following chart presents four stages that demonstrates how information literacy is an enabler in the development of critical thinking and problem solving. What we design for online courses should provide context for specific learning tasks. In some cases, only a short video (screencast)   may be needed to demonstrate use of a complex research tool such as Web of Science. A handout of tips on writing an annotated bibliography is sufficient to guide students through that type of assignment. How to analyze a research article may require a full-scale 10-minute tutorial that combines screencasts, PowerPoint slides, images, text, and assesment questions. Not everything requires an interactive tutorial.