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portal: Libraries and the Academy 4.2 (2004) 299-300
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Developing Web-Based Instruction: Planning, Designing, Managing, and Evaluating for Results , ed. Elizabeth A. Dupuis. New York: Neal Schuman Publishers, 2003. 279 p. $75.00 (ISBN 1-55570-428-X)
Academic libraries have eagerly embraced the use of the Web to enhance and extend instructional opportunities. However, it is apparent that Web-based instruction requires more than simply transferring existing print or classroom content to hypertext. The exciting opportunities of Web-based instruction also pose challenges for content designers. Maximizing these opportunities and meeting the challenges are the subjects of Dupuis' edited work.
Elizabeth Dupuis is currently the head of instructional services for the Doe and Moffitt Libraries at the University of California at Berkeley. Her credentials as an editor on this topic draw from her experience as project manager and instruction designer of the award-winning Texas Information Literacy Tutorial (TILT). The TILT project spanned a three-year development cycle and was based on the important, if elusive, premise that instruction should be directed to the learner, not the instructor.
The overall goal of this publication is to provide a blueprint for librarians and other educators who plan to create online teaching instruments for students and faculty. Dupuis has identified 14 contributors, drawn from the ranks of librarians, administrators, and instructional designers. Each contributor provides a chapter describing his or her own experience and perspectives about a unique aspect of Web-based instruction. The contributors' credentials are provided at the end of the book. The book is divided into three general sections: Part I is Planning and Management, Part II is Evaluation and Assessment, and Part III is Design and Development. Dupuis has woven each chapter and section into a successful whole through the use of comprehensive overviews at the beginning of each section. There is also evidence of excellent editing in the manner in which each chapter reads in a similar voice, and there is a well-constructed flow to the work as a whole. The book concludes with two appendices. Appendix A is a very detailed model of a project proposal. Appendix B is an extensive list of related readings. Each chapter includes a bibliography, as relevant; and there is an index.
This is a "big picture" book, intended to offer readers a comprehensive model for online course development, rather than a series of specific tips and techniques. In today's highly volatile digital environment, this should ensure that the book retains [End Page 299] its usefulness longer than many of the more technical, "how-to" type of publications. This is especially evident in Part I, which covers project management, audience evaluation, and the educational theories that underlie different teaching and learning styles. Readers who are looking for detailed instructional design tools should refer, instead, to Susan Sharpless Smith's Web-Based Instruction: A Guide for Libraries (Chicago: American Library Association, 2001), which has excellent technical and design strategies and examples.
It is interesting that the section about assessment and evaluation is the second, rather than last, part of the book. The placement reinforces the editor's commitment to learner-centric instruction. Through a variety of rigorous methods—such as focus groups, data collection, and usability studies—instructional designers can incorporate the input of their users throughout the development process. The information gained from the tutorial's audience will inform the design and lead to more successful instructional tools. There are also suggestions for the application of various types of learning assessment in the online environment. By assessing student learning, librarians can make important decisions as to the efficacy of the online tutorial and how it may compare to more traditional instruction. This emphasis on audience evaluation and learning assessment makes this book stand apart from other Web-based training publications.
The final chapters of the book are devoted to the actual design and construction of Web-based instruction materials. Again, the emphasis is on designing for the learner. Site developers should take advantage of the best of Web technology without...