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Anita Carter, Wayne State University

Anita Carter.jpgThere are many benefits to utilizing the active learning environment of web-based instruction. The effectiveness of any learning environment is based upon the types and levels of cognitive and metacognitive activity engendered in the learning process (Oliver, 1996). Learning is enhanced in active environments in which students are engaged in processing personally relevant content and reflection during the learning process. Web-based instruction facilitates student-centered approaches and an active learning environment rich with visual and audio stimuli (Winfield, 1998). It can provide a medium that supports learning in an active learning environment and the ability to track skills and identify gaps in knowledge. It allows for reflective time in the learning process and a degree of participation well beyond that which is possible within the time constraints of a place-based session (Parker, 1998).

Such instruction transforms the concept of the classroom from a physical place to a conceptual area where teaching and learning occur at any time, the learner has control of content and sequence, and content can be updated constantly (Joo, 1999; Barron, 1998). It allows access to a variety of cultural experiences in context via media that might otherwise be out of reach for the learners, creating a richness of experience that might be lacking in a traditional classroom.

Web-based instruction lends itself to various types of learning along a continuum from linear (where minimal links act to connect nodes in specified sequence) to hierarchical (where some potential to choose a path through the materials is permitted) to totally unstructured (where users are free to move between associated nodes through referential links with very little structure imposed) (Oliver, 1996). It provides both visual and audio stimuli to enhance the learning experience, encourages higher order learning by encouraging browsing and exploration, and allows data input by the user into a database file or e-mail that is activated when the learner needs help from the instructor (Winfield, 1998; Oliver, 1996; Eaton, 1996).

While it is impossible to predict how learners will process information, interact, and use instructional material, the Web offers many opportunities to design instruction that will be useful for learners with various learning styles and abilities (Wild, 1996). What is required is a different mind-set that includes an emphasis on coaching and facilitation rather than teaching (Greengard, 1999). Additionally, Web-based instruction presents its own set of weaknesses, such as fragmentation of information, which must be overcome with appropriate strategies within the instructional design. Therefore, careful planning is essential.

Interactive learning environments are appropriate when the learning task contains decisions, consequences, and options; demands a high degree of learner practice; or motivation is a key concern. Involving the learner cognitively, physically, or emotionally in a program will at least engage the student/advisee in the program (Schwier, 1991).

Of the many possible design models, four seem especially helpful in creating materials related to advising: the Embedded Teacher (ET) Model, the Three Phases Navigational Model, the Model for Enhancing the Social Nature of Web-based learning, and the University of Wisconsin Learning Innovation's Model.

Embedded Teacher (ET) Model (Lohr, 1998)

The Embedded Teacher Model uses stages of the ADDIE Instructional Model in modeling the functions of a teacher in a Graphical User Interface (GUI). Functions embedded into the model are: orienting the learner, providing navigational assistance, providing instructional strategies, and providing interactive feedback. Activities at the various stages of ADDIE include:

  • Analysis - orienting the learner and providing navigational tools;
  • Design - providing instructional strategies and interactive feedback;
  • Development - coding the GUI and creating all multimedia elements;
  • Implementation - observing how learners interact with GUI;
  • Evaluation - includes formative user testing of the GUI for effectiveness, efficiency, and appeal; and summative information addressing how well the product orients the learners, provides navigational assistance, presents instructional strategies, and provides interactive feedback.

This model is appropriate for any but the simplest task.

Three Phases Navigational Model (Nguyen, 1996)

The Three Phases Navigational Model has three phases, which are:

  • the Orientation phase, which covers the explanation of the function of main buttons and main tasks involved;
  • the Initiation phase, which provides explanation of the content of the course or lesson; and
  • the Reflection phase, which allows the user to construct a conceptual map of the subject domain using simulation, and then compare it with a test module.

Applications of this model are ideal for tasks related to learning how to navigate a campus information system and acclimation to campus resources.

Model for Enhancing the Social Nature of Web-based learning(Parker, 1998)

This model is focused on the social perspective of Web-based learning. The step-by-step process is as follows:

  • Present information from multiple perspectives using case studies that present diverse examples;
  • Make instruction very specific;
  • Create opportunities for students to develop and articulate their own representations of information;
  • Emphasize students' active knowledge construction rather than passive transmission of information from instructor to student;
  • Introduce students to the complexity of the information to be learned at the outset of the course to help frame the material under study;
  • Stress the interconnectedness of the content to be learned; and
  • Avoid oversimplification of the content. Use feedback to look for students' conceptual oversimplification and inability to apply knowledge.

Real world applications of this might include a peer advisor training or new advisor training sequence.

University of Wisconsin Learning Innovation's Model (Winfield, 1998)

This model was designed to enhance student motivation and participation for delivery of adult professional development courses. It features such learning activities as contributing to a discussion, responding to a comment, and submitting an assignment. It facilitates increasing engagement with the course content to allow students to become confident with on-line skills before being asked to perform more demanding cognitive tasks. The goals include: building up user confidence with technology, building in instructors' presence and personality, providing a clear set of learning activities, building on personal and professional experience of participants, relating content to real situation using case studies and simulation, and building in collaboration and facilitated team projects.

Real world applications of this might involve orienting students to an online probation workshop, coaching students through activities required for reinstatement, an online group meeting with students in a specific curriculum, or an online orientation program for incoming freshmen.


The Web has become a powerful instructional tool that has the potential to become the medium of choice for delivering instruction to our advisees at a distance. Realizing its true potential requires that we use it in concert with appropriate instructional design strategies.

Anita Carter
Wayne State University
[email protected]


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Eaton, M. (1996). Interactive features for HTML-based tutorials in distance learning programs. AusWeb 96 The Second Australian WorldWideWeb Conference Proceedings.

Greengard, S. (1999). Web-based training yields maximum returns. Workforce, 7 8, (2), 95-6.

Joo, J. (1999). Cultural issues of the internet in classrooms. British Journal of Educational Technology, 3 0, (3), 245-50.

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Nguyen, A., Tan, W. & Kezunovic, L. (1996). Interactive multimedia on the world wide web: Implementation and implications for the tertiary education sector. AusWeb 96 The Second Australian WorldWideWeb Conference Proceedings.

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Schwier, R. A. (1991). Current issues in interactive design. Instructional Technology: Past, Present, Futur e. (ed.) Anglin, G. Englewood, CO: Libraries Unlimlited, Inc.

Wild, M. & Omari, A. (1996). A working model for designing learning environments. AusWeb 96 The Second Australian WorldWideWeb Conference Proceedings.

Winfield, W., Mealy, M. & Scheibel, P. (1998). Design considerations for enhancing confidence and participation in web based courses. Distance Learning '98. Proceedings on the Annual Conference on Distance Teaching & Learning. ERIC Document: ED 422 885

Cite this article using APA style as: Carter, A. (2006, December). Web-based instructional models: Applications to advising. Academic Advising Today, 29(4). Retrieved from [insert url here]


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