About this paper

Appears in:
Pages: 5179-5187
Publication year: 2011
ISBN: 978-84-615-0441-1
ISSN: 2340-1117

Conference name: 3rd International Conference on Education and New Learning Technologies
Dates: 4-6 July, 2011
Location: Barcelona, Spain


R. Ficek

Minnesota State University Moorhead (UNITED STATES)
This presentation describes innovative ways to create engaging and interactive online instructional units. The combination of a web-based authoring environment, an open source LMS, and free web-based applications provide an effective suite of tools for instructors.
Every unit of instruction should be constructed to meet the unit’s learning objectives. A web-based tool, “Radio James Objective Builder”, facilitates the construction of measurable learning objectives. The verbs typically associated with the various levels of Bloom’s Taxonomy are available and categorized, providing an efficient way to design objectives.

SoftChalk, an easy-to-use web authoring environment, is used to create web-based lessons that can be deployed in any learning management system or website. Preparing for change is the best practice, and even as learning management environments change or become obsolete, these instructional units remain intact, ready for deployment on the web in other venues. SoftChalk basically creates a “mini website” for each lesson – the underlying technology is HTML and style sheets. The SoftChalk application provides a pedagogically sound means of creating instructional units. Videos can be embedded on the lesson screen itself, avoiding the problem of linking to a website which may distract the learner. Guiding questions can be placed above the video on the lesson screen, so that students are looking at those while they view the video. Self-check activities can be placed below the video to provide interaction and an opportunity to review the content of the video.
Online learners benefit from a consistent structure for each unit. SoftChalk provides this structure – each unit can have a customized banner and sidebar, with previous and next navigation provided by the software. For the developer, the application functions like most word processors, with a clean and non-threatening interface that doesn’t require hours of training to use.
Softchalk allows faculty to function as the subject-matter experts without the need to master technically difficult software. It’s important to let faculty focus on their area of expertise instead of spending their time and energy on technical concerns.
Finally, the integration of free, web-based applications provides an excellent way to create instruction that addresses a variety of learning styles. Free concept-mapping (mind-mapping) applications such as MindMeister or MindOMo are easy to use and pedagogically sound. Students use these to graphically depict concepts and relationships between ideas. Visual learners appreciate graphical depictions of complex relationships.
Online courses frequently require students to introduce themselves via a threaded discussion area. Free web-based applications provide unique and creative ways to enhance this activity. For instance, students can “poster themselves” via Glogster, a web-based application that provides an easy-to-use way to create a multi-media collage. Digital story-telling software provides a mechanism to integrate pictures and narration into a story-based introduction. Students can use Voki to create an avatar that speaks the words of introduction that the student types.
Online course design is definitely evolving, and applications like SoftChalk, Moodle, and Web 2.0 tools provide pedagogically sound and efficient ways to create engaging and interactive units of online instruction.
author = {Ficek, R.},
series = {3rd International Conference on Education and New Learning Technologies},
booktitle = {EDULEARN11 Proceedings},
isbn = {978-84-615-0441-1},
issn = {2340-1117},
publisher = {IATED},
location = {Barcelona, Spain},
month = {4-6 July, 2011},
year = {2011},
pages = {5179-5187}}
AU - R. Ficek
SN - 978-84-615-0441-1/2340-1117
PY - 2011
Y1 - 4-6 July, 2011
CI - Barcelona, Spain
JO - 3rd International Conference on Education and New Learning Technologies
JA - EDULEARN11 Proceedings
SP - 5179
EP - 5187
ER -
R. Ficek (2011) MOODLE + WEB 2.0 + SOFTCHALK = ENGAGING ONLINE COURSE DESIGN, EDULEARN11 Proceedings, pp. 5179-5187.