Editor's Note: The Online Resource Page was published in
September with an invitiation to participate in its discussion.
Here is a summary of key points that came out of the discussion. If
you were unable to attend, you may wish to reread the Online
Resource Page article in the USDLA Journal for September.
Online Resource Page:
Using Technology to Enhance the
Teaching and Learning Process
© 2001 International Forum of Educational Technology &
Part II - Post-discussion Summary
The discussion of the online resource page occurred on the IFETS
discussion list from August 27, 2001 to September 7, 2001. The
dialog began by focusing on three basic questions:
What are the advantages and disadvantages of e-books?
How does the Resource influence the classroom learning
How can today's instructors use the Resource to enhance
Discussion participants explored the potential advantages and
disadvantages of the new resource page that has been developed by
the University of Phoenix. Ultimately, the goal of the new
initiative was to enhance the online teaching and learning process.
It is designed to be a place that will provide instructional
resources for a variety of educational needs. For instance, the
resource page has foundational articles that are tied to the course
objectives. Yet, instructors have the freedom to use their subject
expertise to add articles and other instructional resources for
their students. Perhaps, it is better to view the resource page as
a fluid document that has foundational materials but it is much
more than just a set of e-books.
What are some of the concerns and observations about the Resource Page?
Debate over the educational effectiveness of using e-books (ex.
Whether the Resource Page design will help stimulate relevant
interaction with the course material and with other learners.
Instructional design issues involving the costs involved in
creating an educational setting to effectively use the Resource
The importance of having qualified online instructors.
The need for more research and the willingness of innovators to
listen and learn from constructive criticism of their work to
encourage academic collaboration and improve online instructional
The discussion highlighted the importance of having trained
teachers who are effective at facilitating online classes. It is
vital that today's online instructors possess expertise in academic
content areas and have the interpersonal skills that enable them to
work effectively with a diversity of students. An effective
facilitator will be able to create a friendly and intellectually
challenging class that has lively dialog and relevant assignments
that reflect high academic standards. The discussion moderator
described the performance indicators that are often found in good
- The facilitator interacts on a regular basis with their online class.
- Messages are clearly written, formatted properly and reflect appropriate
spelling & grammar.
- Uses personal & professional examples to stimulate discussion.
- Writes with good online tone (friendly, polite & professional).
- Interacts effectively with a diversity of students and works with
- Responds to student questions in a timely (within 24 hours) and consistent
- Demonstrates excitement/enthusiasm about the teaching and learning
- Monitors student learning groups and encourages collaboration.
- Builds upon student comments in a constructive way and uses creative
prompts when necessary (ex. posts additional questions to help sustain
and energize their dialog).
- Keeps the class focused on discussion questions & assignments.
- Provides timely and consistent feedback by carefully explaining grades
and offering specific, detailed and constructive comments on papers.
- Provides a detailed syllabus and weekly instructional updates on class
The resource page provides teachers with instructional resources
that can help them promote deeper learning experiences. Instructors
can offer supplementary materials that will enable them to meet the
needs of students who possess different learning styles.
Ultimately, online educators still hold the keys to making the
online experience enjoyable for students. Spitzer (2001) relates
that "the missing link in Rosset's DL experience was not
the technology, but the lack of a human mediator who could provide
the things that technology could not: relevance, personalization,
responsiveness, and flexibility (pp. 51-52)." Research studies
into interactivity in graduate education schools reveals that
students want timely and consistent feedback. Students want
personal attention from their instructors. It takes dedicated and
effective facilitators that are frequently online to meet student
needs. Traditional teachers sometimes have difficulty making the
transition to working in the online environment. Being a good
facilitator is a very challenging job and it is often far more
demanding than traditional teaching (Muirhead, 2001).
The resource page offers students a variety of learning options
that can individualize their educational experiences and make them
more relevant. The student-centered model of learning encourages
teachers to view their students as academic partners who work
together to produce relevant and meaningful learning experiences.
It requires educators who are willing to change their standard
teaching methods. Boud (1995) related that "they will need to
become researchers of student perceptions, designers of
assessment strategies, managers of assessment processes and
consultants assisting students in the interpretation of rich
information about their learning" (p. 42).
The student-centered learning model challenges teachers to
carefully use descriptive language in their written and verbal
comments (phone conversations) to students. Teachers must develop
dialogues with their students that foster personal and professional
growth. Unfortunately, some professors, through attitude and verbal
and written comments, treat their students as subordinates (Hawley,
1993). Obviously, the instructor's language must be caring and
honest while providing constructive feedback that helps the student
to have a clear picture of their academic work.
The discussion of the resource page reveals the need for
distance education schools to carefully select and train
instructors for their online classes. The resource page has the
potential to enhance the learning process. Yet, it requires having
qualified instructors to effectively use it. Also, the University
of Phoenix realizes that it is a creative initiative that requires
time to experiment with teachers and students. The university is
using conferences and Internet discussions as vital opportunities
to obtain feedback to improve the resource page. For instance,
students might want to have the option to use both textbooks and
e-books in their classes. The discussion participants provided
excellent insights that will be useful in the on-going evaluation
of the resource page. In the future, the school hopes to share a
prototype for those interested in using the resource page for their
Boud, D. (1995). Assessment and learning: Contradictory or
In P. Knight (Ed.), Assessment for learning in higher education
(pp. 35-48). London: Kogan Page Limited
Hawley, P. (1993). Being bright is not enough: The unwritten
rules of doctoral study. Springfield, ILL: Charles Thomas
Muirhead, B. (April, 2001)"Practical Strategies for
Teaching Computer-Mediated Classes." Educational Technology
& Society 4 (2). Available: http://ifets.ieee.org/periodical/vol_2_2001/v_2_2001.html
Spitzer, D. R. (2001). Don't forget the high-touch with the
high-tech in distance learning, Educational Technology, XLI, (2),
About the Authors
Brent Muirhead has a BA in social work, master's
degrees in religious education, history, and administration, and
doctoral degrees in education (D.Min. and Ph.D.). His Ph.D. degree
is from Capella University,a distance education school in
Minneapolis, Minnesota. He took the majority of his courses online
and gained valuable experience in distance learning. His
dissertation studied interactivity (communication, participation,
and feedback) between students and between students and their
professors in a computer mediated graduate school.
Dr. Muirhead is area chair and teaches a variety of courses for
the MAED program in curriculum and technology for the University of
Phoenix Online (UOP). He also trains and mentors faculty
candidates, conducts peer reviews of veteran faculty members, and
teaches graduate research courses in the new UOP Doctor of
Tel: + 1 770-751-1783, email email@example.com