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Making Sense of Online Learning: A Guide for Beginners and the Truly Skeptical

ISBN: 978-0-7879-6982-0
192 pages
April 2004, Pfeiffer
Making Sense of Online Learning: A Guide for Beginners and the Truly Skeptical (0787969826) cover image


If you need quick, targeted baseline knowledge about using technology for teaching and learning, Making Sense of Online Learning is for you. This practical, no-nonsense primer will help you understand how online learning technologies work and how they fit into your organization. You’ll gain a working knowledge of important topics such as design, infrastructure, and evaluation and the confidence to make informed decisions that will help your learners and organization thrive. Since information about online learning changes at Internet speed, the book is supported with a dedicated Web site (www.learningpeaks.com/msoll/) filled with up-to-the-minute suggestions for tools and resources.
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Table of Contents

List of Tables and Figures.

Introduction: Getting the Most from This Resource.

Who Should Read This Book?

Who Should Not Read This Book?

Who Are the Authors?

How Is This Book Organized?

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

1. Taking the Leap.

What Is Online Learning?

Where Has Online Learning Come from and Where Is It Going?

When Does Using Technology for Learning Make Sense?

How Can I Tell Whether My Organization Is Ready?

What Is Good Online Learning?

What Skills Do I Need?

How Do I Stay Sane?


2. What About Learning?

What Is Learning?

What Is Instruction?

What Activities Should Be Included in Instruction?

How Do I Select Interactions and Activities?


3. The Language of Online Learning: How to Spell HTML.

How to Speak the Right Language.

What Are the Most Common Terms That Are Misunderstood by Folks New to This Field, and What Do They Mean?

New Terms and Technologies.


4. Designing for the Web.

Does Traditional Instructional Design Work for Online Learning?

How Do I Design with the User in Mind?

How Do I Make Things Easy to Find on My Site?

How Do I Make Sure the Site Is Easy to Navigate?


5. Tools and Technologies for Online Learning, Part 1: Development.

How Do I Build Online Learning?

What Are the Most Common Tools Used for Building Online Instructional Materials? What Do I Need to Know to Get Started?

What Are Some Technologies I Need to Know About?


6. Tools and Technologies for Online Learning, Part 2: Infrastructure.

What Is Learning Infrastructure?

What Tools Can I Use to Track Learners and Courses?

What Tools Can I Use to Keep Track of Online Content?

What Are Learning Objects, and How Do They Relate to Tracking and Managing Online Content?

What Are Learning Standards?


7. Evaluating Online Learning.

What Is Evaluation?

What Aspects of Online Instruction Should I Evaluate?

What’s the Difference Between Assessment and Evaluation?

How Do You Evaluate a Course or Program?

How Can You Evaluate Online Learning?





About the Authors.

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Author Information

Patti Shank is the managing partner of Learning Peaks, an instructional technology consulting group that helps organizations optimize their online/distance education initiatives. She’s listed in Who’s Who In Instructional Technology, is a popular speaker at training and instructional technology conferences, and has contributed numerous chapters to training books. She was an award-winning contributor for Online Learning Magazine and winner of a 2002 EDMEDIA award.

Amy Sitze is a journalist and editor who has held leadership roles at several business and technology magazines, including three years as editor of Online Learning Magazine.

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“Anyone new to online teaching should read this book before they start planning instruction. Dr. Shanks does a comprehensive job of documenting basic issues and common sense decisions from the vantage point of an experienced online instructor."
—Carol Kamin, MS, EdD, director of medicaleducation R&D, Pediatrics, University of Colorado School of Medicine

“One of the most sensible, innovative approaches to online learning today, Making Sense of Online Learning is an important book, ideal both for new and experienced instructional designers. Instead of locking the learner into boring  page turners and multiple choice questions, Patty Shank provides a blueprint for how to exploit technology to enable innovation. No hype, no phony panacea, just down-to-earth clear writing and excellent examples you can apply to both corporate and academic education.  A tremendous amount can be learned from this common sense ground-breaking work.”
—Leslie J. Freeman, head of e-Learning, Morgan Stanley

“Patti's engaging and no-nonsense style will give anyone the knowledge needed to become confident practitioner in the world of online learning. If you need a hurry-up entry into online learning, Patti Shank's book is just the ticket. She successfully integrates the key aspects of online learning into a comprehensive and readable guide that will give anyone the tools of the trade in short order.”
—Cynthia S. Wehmer, CPT, IT Training Manager, Coors Brewing Company

“This is the clearest and most comprehensive look at what instructional designers, faculty and administrators alike need to know about the complex and changing environment of technology enhanced learning that I have found. A must-read for the learning organization of today, corporate or academic.”
—Ellen K. Waterman, director of distance learning, Regis University SPS, Denver

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