By Daniela & Lourdes

Web Based Instruction & Distance Learning

WBI and distance learning are two areas which can overlap sometimes. Whilst distance learning involves enrolling for an online course which is hosted from abroad, WBI involves conducting courses online but not necessarily from another country. As Khan (1997) stated, WBI is a “hypermedia-based instructional program which utilizes the attributes and resources of the World Wide Web to create a meaningful learning environment where learning is fostered and supported”. Hence, distance learning is by and large possible through WBI.
WBI can take several forms. Although sometimes it is thought, and this is justly so for some environments, that using the Web in education entails creating a stand-alone, self-sustaining educational product, it need not be the goal of all cases especially secondary school teachers who need to bridge the gap to make a seamless link between what is taking place in class and the dedicated online environment. As a matter of fact, the type of activity that can take place in WBI can be either asynchronous – bulletin boards, email, tutorial-type lessons – in which the users can contribute any time they feel like it or else synchronous. Synchronous interaction involves having real-time chats or web-conferencing (Harmon & Jones, 2001). Naturally, a course can encompass both types of interaction.
Undoubtedly, not all courses are designed to have students accessing the online environment all the time. Harmon and Jones (2001) categorized the apparent levels of web use:
  • Level 0: No web use whatsoever.
  • Level 1: Informational. Presenting stable information such as the syllabus, the contact details and the course content.
  • Level 2: Supplemental. Having the teacher uploading the course content (course notes, powerpoint slides)
  • Level 3: Essential. The student has to be a regular contributor to the online environment.
  • Level 4: Communal. Involves both face-to-face meeting between the teacher and the students and online classes.
  • Level 5: Immersive. All of the course content and course interactions take place online. Unlike traditional online environments, this level should be regarded as a constructivist virtual learning community. Furthermore, this makes way for classes to be held cross-site for example between 2 universities or students studying from both faculty and student generated lessons.
Web delivery is becoming all the more ubiquitous. Schools, universities and corporations are finding ways to direct their instruction and training on the Web (Bannan and Milheim, 1997; Frick et al., 1997). In addition to this, according to Newman and Scurry (2001), over 1,100 higher education institutions in the United States, offer online courses. However, researchers like Kirkwood (1998) point out that sometimes the term WBI is abused since certain courses which are described as being a WBI-type course, fail to adhere to certain principles which make a WBI course effective for the students in particular those with disability. Hence, it must be ensure that a WBI course encompasses these aspects:

  • Present information in multiple ways
  • Offer multiple ways for students to interact with and respond to curricula and materials
  • Provide multiple ways for students to find meaning in the material and thus motivate themselves
  • Make good use of personal and course Web pages


References:Bannan, B and Milheim, WD (1997) Existing web-based instruction courses and their design. In Khan, B (ed.) Web-Based Instruction, Educational Technology Publications, Englewood Cliffs, NJ, pp. 381–387.
Frick, TW, Corry, M and Bray, M (1997) Preparing and managing a course web site: Understanding systemic change in education. In Khan, B (ed.) Web-Based Instruction, Educational Technology Publications, Englewood Cliffs, NJ, pp. 431–436.
Harmon Stephen W., Jones Marshall G. (2001). An Analysis of Situated Web-Based Instruction. International Council for Education Media. Education Media International
Khan B. (1997). Web-based instruction. Englewood Cliffs, New Jersey: Educational Technology Publications.

Kirkwood A. (1998). New media mania: Can information and communication technologies enhance the quality of open and distance learning? Computers in libraries, 21 (9), 24-29

Newman F, Scurry J. (2001). Online technology pushes pedagogy to the forefront. The Chronicle of Higher Education, 47, B7-B1O