July 24th, 2009

Online Design: Reaching Students Eight Different Ways


The online learning environment offers great potential for individualized learning. One way to achieve this is through adaptive hypermedia—using learner use patterns to adapt course presentation, navigation, and content to suit individual students’ needs and preferences.

Researchers at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute (RPI) have begun looking into ways to use adaptive hypermedia to individualize courses. They developed a course model, known as OctoPlus, which consists of the following eight instructional events, each representing a different instructional method and each linked to a separate Web page:

  • Connect—engages students’ prior knowledge of the content and helps the instructor gauge how much students know about the content. This can include a video or simulation.
  • Reflect—has students externalize their thoughts on their experiences through a discussion board, e-mail, or response to a quizlike question.
  • Share—enables students to share their experiences with the whole class, perhaps through a multiple-choice or short-answer question.
  • Learn—presents the content.
  • Practice—provides learners with exercises that reinforce the activities in the “learn” section.
  • Personalize—asks students to reflect on what they have learned.
  • Experiment—has students take the information they have learned and manipulate it to better understand how the concept works.
  • Apply—has students apply the learning to new situations.

Using this model to design courses gives students different ways to look at the content. “I think a lot of times when instructors are faced with putting their courses online, there aren’t a lot of guides for them other than just transferring their lectures into a text-based format,” says Linda Polhemus, project manager. “[This model] really sets up a structure for an instructor to go through in creating an experience that will get [students] engaged in the learning objective that is to be reached through the entire cycle.”

Excerpted from Adaptive Hypermedia for Individualized Learning, To read complete article, download Online Course Design: 13 Strategies for Teaching in a Web-based Distance Learning Environment.