In a Nutshell:  Authoring Design and Software for the Web

Bob Jensen at Trinity University

Excerpt from October 30, 2004 Edition of New Bookmarks

Excerpt from the February 9, 2001 Edition of New Bookmarks

Excerpt from the February 9, 2001 Edition of New Bookmarks

Excerpt from the August 10, 2001 Edition of New Bookmarks

Excerpt from the November 14, 2001 Edition of New Bookmarks 


Bob Jensen's threads on tools are at 

Bob Jensen's threads on resources are at 

Bob Jensen's threads on assessment are at 

Webmonkey's How to Library



Bob Jensen's helpers are linked at 

Excerpt from October 30, 2004 Edition of New Bookmarks

October1, 2004 message from Carolyn Kotlas [


Instructors understand the importance of creating and distributing clear, explicit course policies to their students. These generally cover the course requirements and deadlines, absences and assignment make-up policies, and other "housekeeping" areas. When moving into the online environment, setting up policies can get more complicated. In "The Importance of Policies in E-Learning Instruction" (EDUCAUSE QUARTERLY, vol. 27, no. 3, 2004, pp. 28-39), Shirley Waterhouse and Rodney O. Rogers provide a useful collection of sample policies that cover using the basic tools of online instruction. Their examples cover email use, discussion forum participation, online submission of assignments, and getting technical help. They also include a checklist for fair use of copyrighted materials and a student permission-to-use form. The article is available online at 

EDUCAUSE Quarterly, The IT Practitioner's Journal [ISSN 1528-5324] is published by EDUCAUSE, 4772 Walnut Street, Suite 206, Boulder, CO 80301-2538 USA. Current and past issues are available online at 


"Dr. Richard Mayer's research proves that there are great benefits to using multimedia in the classroom. It also proves the opposite is true." In "The Multimedia Paradox" (PRESENTATIONS, vol. 18, no. 9, September 2004, pp. 24-5, 28-9), Tad Simons explores the perennial problem of how we assess the impact of multimedia (or, for that matter, any technology) on learning. He discusses the research into this problem by Richard Mayer, a professor of psychology at the University of California at Santa Barbara. Some of Mayer's findings indicate that when text and graphics are combined student retention goes up an average of 42 percent; if the text is spoken rather than read by the students, retention increases by an average of 30 percent. The paradox that Mayer discovered is that "while a little multimedia may be a good thing, too much multimedia is often a bad thing." Too much multimedia may interfere with a student's ability to absorb the message and diminish the effectiveness of the medium.

The article is not available online, but subscriptions to the print version of Presentations are free. Presentations: Technology and Techniques for Effective Communication [ISSN 1041-9780] is published monthly by VNU Business Media, 50 S. Ninth St., Minneapolis, MN 55402 USA; tel: 612-333-0471; fax: 612-333-6526; Web: 

See also:

MULTIMEDIA LEARNING by Richard Mayer Cambridge University Press, 2001 ISBN: 0521787491 (paperback) $24.99 


A recent study of West Point first-year students, all of whom have laptop computers, examined teaching techniques, lessons learned, and student performance during the integration of laptops in teaching and learning psychology in the traditional classroom. The study found statistically-significant improvements in learning for student using laptops. A report of the study, "Miracle or Menace: Teaching and Learning with Laptop Computers in the Classroom" by James Efaw, Scott Hampton, Silas Martinez, and Scott Smith, is available online at  (EDUCAUSE QUARTERLY, vol. 27, no. 3, 2004, pp. 10-18).


The Centre for Information Behaviour and the Evaluation of Research (ciber) surveyed 91,500 senior authors published in an ISI-indexed journal in order to "enable publishers and libraries to make a sensible contribution, based on concrete evidence, to the increasingly heated debate over the future of the scholarly communication system, open access, etc." Nearly 4,000 senior researchers from 97 countries responded to the survey. The survey results, written by Ian Rowlands, Dave Nicholas, and Paul Huntingdon, are available in "Scholarly Communication in the Digital Environment: What Do Authors Want? Findings of an International Survey of Author Opinion: Project Report."

The survey found that authors want to be able to "target a very specific group of key readers, narrowcasting to those working on similar problems," which might indicate that more journals, rather than fewer, would be needed in some disciplines. Not surprisingly, they want to publish in "peer-reviewed, high impact" journals that offer refereeing and editing services. The much-discussed "Open Access" funding model that charges authors (or their institutions) for publishing services did not receive much support from the authors. Only 16% of the survey responders said they would pay more than US$500 to have their papers published. The majority of those in the social sciences and arts and humanities fields responded that they would not be willing to pay anything. The report is available online at no cost at 

ciber "seeks to inform by countering idle speculation and uninformed opinion with the facts. It engages in funded studies, contract research, scholarship and dissemination events in its areas of expertise." For more information, contact: Centre for Information Behaviour and the Evaluation of Research, Department of Information Science, City University, Northampton Square, London EC1V 0HB United Kingdom; tel: 44 020 7040 8381; fax: 44 020 7040 8584; email:    Web: 

See also:

"Journal Publishing: What Do Authors Want?" by Ian Rowlands, Dave Nicholas, and Paul Huntingdon 

NATURE's online series: "Access to the Literature: The Debate Continues" 

"Open Access to Journals Won't Lower Prices" by John H. Ewing THE CHRONICLE OF HIGHER EDUCATION, vol. 51, issue 6, October 1, 2004, p. B20  (Subscription required to access article online.)

Bob Jensen's threads on education technology are at 

Bob Jensen's threads on tools for technology education are at 

Excerpt from the January 26, 2001 Edition of New Bookmarks at 

What are the Web tutorial authoring software choices of the pros?  Let me introduce Phil Padgett.

On Friday, January 13, I received a phone call from a stranger named Phil Padgett.  Phil is an adjunct asynchronous learning  course developer at Idaho State University.  He said he was going to be in San Antonio visiting his mother and requested an appointment to visit with me.  He did indeed show up an my door early on Monday, and we spent a delightful morning together.  This leads into my short story about Phil Padgett.  I hope he will become a regular contributor to future editions of New Bookmarks.

Phil's life is the ore out of which Readers Digest stories are mined.  He was kicked out of a San Antonio high school in the early 1960s and was considered to be somewhat retarded by the high school system.  He joined the Navy, and while a seaman on a submarine, the Navy (to its credit) discovered genius in this young seaman and sent him to the U.S. Naval Academy (as a President John F. Kennedy appointment to the Academy).  Phil's specialty became boiler engineering and design, although he performed other complex engineering duties in the Navy.  In turbulent seas, he suffered a spinal injury that almost completely severed his brain from his body.  He was paralyzed and had absolutely no memory.  Thanks to a brilliant surgeon who totally defied all odds, Phil's health eventually returned to what to me appears to be 100%.  The recovery was slow.  Phil received the first PC ever issued to a U.S. naval officer.  This was in part due to his temporary, memory-impaired inability to remember codes needed to perform his duties assigned by the Navy during his lengthy recovery.

Now when and if you ever read Phil Padgett's postings to my future editions of  New Bookmarks, you will have a bit of an idea of where he is coming from out of those turbulent seas.  His life proves the repeated rule that "success is often trouble turned inside out."  It makes those of us on a cushy paved road to academe take a deep breath and say Bravo to Phil Padgett.

Like all of us who are developing asynchronous learning materials, Phil struggles with alternative choices of module design and software.  In Phil's case he and a partner have a company that both designs and develops online courses for clients who supply the content.  In my case, I struggle with both the content and the development.  But we share several views in common about design.  These include the following:

Sadly, neither Phil nor I can place our best authoring work online for the world to sample.  In my case, my best work is authored on Multimedia ToolBook CD-ROMs that I use some in my teaching (less now that these ToolBooks are getting out of date) and in my multimedia road shows ( ).  The reason that I cannot show my best stuff on the Web is that hypermedia ToolBooks just do not transmit well over the Internet.  Asymetrix ToolBook and Macromedia Authorware were the creme de la creme high-end authoring software alternatives in the fleeting glory years of hypermedia CD-ROM course development.  Unfortunately, both alternatives had and still have steep learning curves for authors and demand too much bandwidth for distribution on the Web unless the multimedia features are extremely curtailed.  ToolBook is now a losing (moneywise) product of Click2Learn ( ) and Authorware never has been a bread winner for Macromedia ( ).  This is sad, because these two alternatives are arguably the best authoring systems ever developed.  Like the Marine Corps new Osprey aircraft, they are the intricately designed products for their intended missions, but they are just too complex and unreliable for the changing world within which they must operate.  With the slowdowns or stoppages of further development and refinement of ToolBook's OpenScript coding and Authorware's Lingo coding, these authoring systems probably (in my opinion) will not survive long enough to use when bandwidth problems are solved.

My course materials on the Web do not have the good designs that I authored into my CD-ROMs, because my Web materials are  mainly limited to HTML text with limited graphics and limited audio combined with downloadable Excel workbooks (for example see ).  My Web materials do not have those transcribed commentaries of experts at each point along the way.  (There are a few exceptions such as the transcription of one of Paul Pacter's workshops at  

In Phil Padgett's case, it is presently not possible to demo his best work on the Web, because his clients own the copyrights.  He is presently attempting to get permission from his clients to demo parts of his work on the Web.  Unfortunately, his clients presently charge fees to see the work.  One example of a set of tutorials that Phil helped design and develop can be found at  Phil has the password to this work and showed me one of the tutorials (Introduction to Photoshop).  I was impressed with the audio commentaries, transcriptions, and links to downloads.

This, at last, leads us to the question at hand.  What software did Phil choose when authoring these Web tutorials?  His choice was Macromedia's Fireworks and Dreamweaver coupled with RealNetwork's RealProducer.  

Create, edit, and animate Web graphics using a complete set of bitmap and vector tools. Use export controls to optimize your images, give them advanced interactivity, and export them into Macromedia Dreamweaver and other HTML editors. Launch and edit Fireworks graphics from inside Dreamweaver or Macromedia Flash.

Macromedia Dreamweaver UltraDev 4, with all the powerful new features of Dreamweaver 4, is the most efficient way to develop ASP, JSP, or ColdFusion applications. View code and design simultaneously. Easily create libraries of server-side scripts or use the built-in server behaviors and shortcuts.

For a review, see 

The best streaming media-creation tool just got better.

Now support for RealAudio 8 and RealVideo 8 lets you create CD-quality audio and true Internet video for your Web pages. Easy-to-use RealProducer Plus provides the help beginners need, and comes loaded with features powerful enough to satisfy any pro.

RealProducer Plus creates impressive-sounding streaming Web audio and video from live sources or media files.

Outstanding RealProducer Plus Features

News and Updates

See it in action

Other authoring software choices are summarized at  Publishers are leaning toward electronic books summarized at

In my case, I still cling to Microsoft FrontPage ( ) combined with MP3 audio file compression.  ( ).  Microsoft is beta testing the new FrontPage 10.  See,4586,2658474,00.html 

One innovation is the inclusion of Microsoft SharePoint, which allows users to quickly set up a team Web site for intranet or Internet users to store, find and share information.

Users can also add and edit content to SharePoint sites straight from their browsers.

Beta 2 integrates Microsoft's SharePoint, allowing users to set up a team Web site for sharing files of all kinds.

You don't have to possess any particular Web-authoring skills to add and edit content to a SharePoint-based site, which means that everyone within a workgroup or a broad organization -- even family members in different places around the world -- can collaborate on projects, share documents and communicate more effectively.

FrontPage 10 also enables users to create a custom photo gallery to display personal or business photos and images. In addition, users can add automatic Web content to a Web site by inserting MSNBC headlines and weather forecasts, MSN searches, Expedia maps and bCentral small-business service tools. This automatic Web content allows users to update their site daily without having to edit it every day.

XML, Advanced HTML features Site-management features have also been enhanced, with usage analysis reports that track how visitors use the Web site and how they were referred to it. And FrontPage 10 provides faster and more targeted Web site publishing.

"XML (Extensible Markup Language) is very important to our users, and FrontPage 10 recognizes it as a structured language," he said. "Users can apply formatting rules to XML while in an HTML view, with many of the features then stored as XML yet retrieved as HTML."

Advanced HTML editing features also give users the ability to control exactly how their HTML code looks and works with improved XML Formatting Rules, HTML and ASP Source Code Preservation, and Optional HTML Source Reformatting.

New pasting features are also included that will make working with Office applications simpler by allowing users to decide whether they want text being pasted from another application to keep the formatting in the existing Web page, keep the formatting from the source page or even paste as text.

Apart from the XML features mentioned above, one reason I stick with Microsoft products is the anticipation that Visual Studio will really take off commercially. Sometime in the future, it may one day also find its way into academe.  See 

Visual Studio For Applications: The Power of Customization Moves to the Web

REDMOND, Wash., Jan. 16, 2001-- Imagine that you've been the regional sales manager for a large manufacturing company since the late 1980s. Chances are that when you took over, your businesses processes were managed almost entirely through the exchange of paper forms. Communication centered on telephone calls and face-to-face meetings. Business intelligence arrived as typewritten reports summarizing events in your industry over the previous quarter, or even the previous year. Today, by contrast, comprehensive up-to-the-minute information about your company, your customers, and your competitors is only a mouse-click away. Much of the job of keeping in touch is handled with a quick email. Business process automation software has nearly eliminated the blizzard of typed forms and handwritten notes on which you once relied. Now, everything from order processing, to contact management, to scheduling and bookkeeping occurs automatically, powered by database-driven applications. In recent years, the ability to quickly and cheaply customize those applications to meet the specific business needs of your organization has helped streamline operations to a degree that was once unimaginable.

The rise of the Internet offers a host of new possibilities for the way people do business. Chief among them is the chance to move business process automation onto the Web, giving sales staff access to the power of back-office computing any time, any place and on any device.

But while there are plenty of choices for prepackaged Sales Force Automation applications for the Web right now, there is also a problem. Customizing them to conform to an organization's unique procedures is prohibitively time-consuming and expensive.

With today's announcement of a new Web application customization technology, called Visual Studio for Applications (VSA), Microsoft is delivering the ability for companies to easily customize their Web-based applications.

"Corporations are sharply limited in their ability to take advantage of the opportunities offered by the Web because there is no easy way to extend their internal business logic in distributed applications," explains Robert Green, Microsoft's lead product manager for Visual Studio. "There are ways to do it today, but they are all hugely unattractive. Either your software vendor has to be willing to expose its source code, which they typically don't want to do, or you have to hire a consultant to do the work, which is expensive and doesn't scale. Least attractive of all is having to build your own application from scratch, which just is not a viable option for any but the largest organizations."

What are optimal knowledge portal designs and are they disasters for education?

Threads of my comments on this subject are given at 

I have some threads on knowledge portals and vortals at

My discussions with Phil Padgett inspired me to briefly summarize what I think should be contained in an optimal (probably not attainable) knowledge portal design on a given topic (e.g., FAS 133 on Accounting for Derivative Financial Instruments and Hedging Activities):

Although "optimal" knowledge portals and vortals will never be achieved, if they come close to optimization in terms of the above criteria and other criteria not mentioned above, this may prove to be a disaster for educators and students.  The problem is that knowledge will become too easy to find and too easy to learn.  In another document I state the following at 

Bob Jensen's Working Paper 265 Concerns Giving Students the Full Benefits of Newer Technologies May Be Hazardous to Their Long Run Memory and Accomplishments.

Source:  Metacognitive Concerns in Designs and Evaluations of Computer Aided Education and Training: 
Are We Misleading Ourselves About Measures of Success? by Bob Jensen at 
  • Multimedia and Other Technologies Can Give Students What They Want by Making Learning More of the Following:
  1. Easy (e.g., interactive graphics, interactive databases, ease of search, ease of access, ease of finding help, ease of navigation, etc.)
  2. Fun (animations, videos, audio, etc.)
  3. Inspirational (cream-of-the-crop instructors, access to experts and motivators)
  4. Realistic (networked simulations and virtual reality)
  5. Collaborative (ease of communication and collaborative software)
  6. Efficient (learn from any location at any time at less cost with personalized knowledge bases and portals)
  • What Students Want is Not Necessarily What They Need
  1. Humans retain more when something is hard to learn.
  2. Humans retain more when something is painful to learn and that part of the retention of what is learned is the struggle in finding the answers.
  3. Students retain more when they reason and discover something on their own.
  4. Leaning from mistakes may be the best teacher.
  5. Humans are prone to information overload.
  6. The pace of life and learning may indeed be a killer.


Optimal knowledge portals may destroy the Socratic pedagogy and discovery learning.  Optimal knowledge portals may make learning too easy and too forgettable.  Students learn best from their mistakes.  

So this begs the question of whether knowledge portals should be banned from students.  This is analogous to only making textbook and case solution manuals only available to faculty (who possibly cannot derive correct answers without such manuals).  Of course banning knowledge portals from students is absurd.  We are all students.  We are all teachers.  

The good (?) news is that in the 21st Century knowledge is too complex and our technologies are too crude for purposes of creating and maintaining "optimal" knowledge portals.

What is more serious are such questions as the following:

Excerpt from the February 9, 2001 Edition of New Bookmarks at 

The two messages that follow are Phil Padgett's first contributions to New Bookmarks.  

Hello Bob, 
Regarding forwarding the message/link to the AECM: Michelle and I have no objection to sharing the link to the HTML course if you think that it will understood by all that the Intro to HTML was a limited test due to restrictions posed by the "" web site plus the absence of the interactivity, exploration, and assessment features required for quality web based learning. The only course developed by us on that "lecturetech" page was HTML. Several of the other examples posted for review on that web page provide some examples of the kind of issues we are trying to address.

I sincerely apologize for not getting back to you with heartfelt thanks as soon as I returned to Pocatello, so I want to do that now. Thanks! It was great to find leads to so many fine people who have similar interests.

It was also encouraging to discover that the research and work that my partners and I have done may help others. As the intermountain region does not offer many project opportunities, we hope that we may find contacts who can use our services.

Our ISP has provided sufficient server space to support us posting our research database and some examples of our work and experiments with higher order learning objectives, assessment, and simulation as well as on going research toward integrating learning styles, personality types, and emotional intelligence into the cognitive, affective, and psychomotor learning domains. Work on our web site commenced as soon as I returned, and we hope to be able to post good examples of our web courses and research within the next 10-14 days. Then we won't need a pallet of CD's. Meanwhile, the HTML course posted on "lecturetech" may help to demonstrate the power of coordinating narration with graphics.

More to follow....

Sincerely, Phil Padgett & Michelle Olsen
Phil Padgett [
Idaho State University

I am providing a non-passworded link to one of the two sample courses that my partner Michelle and I created to explore the possibilities of an on-line delivery method that addresses several issues that seem to be obstacles for many faculty.


Faculty tend to teach the way they were taught, and for most this means spending much class time in a lecture environment with presentation aids such as overhead transparencies, Powerpoint slides, or electronic projection systems. Many faculty are still intimidated by computer technology, and many of those who take the first steps toward creating an online course (at least in Idaho) simply input their powerpoint slide graphics and provide printable notes pages of the same material.

Our approach is to use ISD methods to develop criterion referenced goals & objectives, higher order assessment instruments, and story board designs before beginning production. Production means crafting a graphic with a script for professional narration that plays while the slide is displayed. Each slide may have hyperlinks to text references, exercises, enrichment sources, glossary, etc. This method simulates a classroom presentation while providing all the capabilities of hyperlinked resources. 

When I met with Bob Jensen, I showed him a pass worded course entitled "Introduction to Photoshop" that has the above features plus simulation of tools for image repair and enhancement -- that is the one I will provide on CD-ROM to you. In the meantime, the link I am sending to you will give you access to the first course entitled "Introduction to HTML" -- it was done within a few days to test the conversion of fireworks graphics and the narration tools. The link opens a page with several courses -- only one is ours, the Introduction to HTML.

The "full text version" link provides the student with a downloadable copy of the narration, text of the slide, notes that enrich the content, as well as links to class projects, assignments, assessment, and other resources. More of these features are implemented in the Photoshop course we will be showing you shortly.

Please remember that these two efforts are just demonstration vehicles -- we are working on some courses that will push these capabilities to reach and measure achievement of higher level learning objectives -- Bloom level 5 and 6.

My partner Michelle and I looked at your web site a little while ago, and it looks like your graphics emphasis is very similar to ours. Please let us know how you feel about the combination of graphics, voice narration, etc.

We will be looking forward to talking with you next week.


Phil Padgett & Michelle Olsen
Phil Padgett [
Idaho State University

Excerpt from the August 10, 2001 Edition of New Bookmarks

My Hero of the Week --- Amy Dunbar from The University of Connecticut 

I first heard of Amy Dunbar from one of her former students when Amy was teaching tax at The University of Texas at San Antonio.  The comment was something to the effect that "She's more awesome than I can imagine for any teacher.  If only her courses weren't  so tough."

Amy later moved to The University of Iowa and then, after her husband completed his doctorate, she (they) moved on to The University of Connecticut.  In the course of her career, Amy received her B.A. from Macalester College, went through "basic training" as an IRS agent, and then completed her doctorate in tax accounting and tax research at at The University of Texas.  

Professor Dunbar joined the accounting faculty at the University of Connecticut in 1999. She was a faculty member at the University of Texas at San Antonio from 1989 to 1993, and at the University of Iowa from 1993 to 1998. While at the University of Texas at San Antonio, she received the Chancellor's Council Outstanding Teaching Award, a College of Business teaching award, and several research awards, including the Ernst & Young Tax Literature Award. While at the University of Iowa, she received a University of Iowa Collegiate Teaching Award (one of 15 given university-wide) as well as two Department of Accounting teaching awards. Professor Dunbar has published in the Journal of the American Taxation Association, the National Tax Journal, the Journal of Public Economics, and several legal journals. Her research deals with tax policy issues, including a recent publication on who would bear the burden of the proposed flat tax. She is a member of Board of Trustees for the American Taxation Association and has been active in both the Texas and Iowa Society of CPAs.

What fascinates me most about Amy is her courage.  It took special courage to plunge into new technologies and pedagogy in courses where she received exceptional awards using more traditional methods in traditional classrooms. Amy has always experimented with newer technologies inside and outside the classroom.  She's a real pro at tax accounting and tax research, but in terms of information technologies she's a dogmatic bootstrapper and plunges in where angels fear to tread.  

I think all educators should read at least the first 15 pages of "Genesis of an Online Course," by Amy Dunbar, August 1, 2001 at 

This paper presents a descriptive and evaluative analysis of the transformation of a graduate tax accounting course to an online course that was taught in a compressed six-week format beginning May 21, 2001. Fifty-seven students in two sections completed the course using WebCT, classroom environment software that facilitates the creation of web-based educational environments. The paper provides a description of the technology tools required and the first-day activities, which introduced the students to the online environment. The students used a combination of asynchronous and synchronous learning methods that allowed them to complete the coursework on a self-determined schedule, subject to bi-weekly quiz constraints. I used Dreamweaver to create content pages, which had links to Excel problems, Flash examples, audio files, and self-tests. Students worked the quizzes and then met in their four- to six-person groups in a chat room to resolve differences in answers. When students wanted my help, they sent me an instant message, using AOL Instant Messenger. At the end of the semester, I surveyed the class about the learning environment. Overall, the students were satisfied with the learning methods. Working the quizzes in the chat room was the method used most; 84 percent used a combination of these two tools “a lot.” The percentages for “a lot” were as follows for the remaining tools: self-tests (67%), Excel files (60%), AIM (58%), Flash files (44%), sound files (33%), discussion board (24%). Students were satisfied with the number of the quizzes and projects, but they wanted more self-tests (65%), with some requests for more of the other learning methods (Excel, Flash, and audio). The group process worked well in this class. Student comments on their groups and the class are provided in exhibits. In addition to having problems accessing technology, students found discovery-based learning challenging. The problem was not, however, my accessibility to them. On the university-level survey, the students rated my accessibility as 9.8 out of 10, which I attribute to the use of an instant messenger program. Based on the student comments, those who preferred the online environment appreciated the flexibility. We envision that our entire master’s of accounting program will go online because our students work full-time. Given the choice of live instruction versus flexibility, we think the students will choose flexibility. Although only 56 percent of my students would choose to take this class online if they had a choice between online and live, I think that number will increase as time goes by.

So what are Amy's highly controversial conclusions from her first online course?   Go to Page 13 in "Genesis of an Online Course," by Amy Dunbar, August 1, 2001 at 

Reply 1 from Bob Jensen on August 4, 2001

First let me say that I have declared Amy Dunbar to be my "Hero of the Week" in the forthcoming August 10 Edition of New Bookmarks. In that edition, I pay tribute to her courage. She has a string of exceptional teaching awards from three universities, and it takes special courage to plunge into new technologies and pedagogy in courses where she received exceptional awards using more traditional methods in traditional classrooms.

Rather than discuss her online course in this message, I would instead prefer to focus only on her phrase that reads as follows" 

This class was more of a nuts and bolts class than a theory class. I think a more theoretical, discussion oriented class would be handled differently. But for those taking technical detail classes online, you might find my paper helpful. 

It is not clear what she means by "handled differently." It is extremely important to delve into this issue, because most faculty worth a grain of salt attempt to bring theory into courses at any level. I assume that Amy is referring here to a course that is predominantly theory for students that have mastered "nuts and bolts."

It is not clear, at least to me, why a predominantly theory course cannot be handled better online than in a traditional classroom. Student interaction in classrooms is terrific when there are pat answers that informed students can "recite" for the benefit of shall we say "lesser-informed" students. This helps to motivate all students to become better informed about "nuts and bolts." There is also a tremendous motivation factor called "classroom silence." Students squirm during embarrassing moments of total silence, especially when they are the ones who are called upon to fill the silence. (Barry Rice flashes their names and pictures randomly on the screen while awaiting their answers.) One of the most effective first-year seminar instructors at Trinity University occasionally never interjected a single word for the entire class period. That forced students to prepare for filling silence.

But in a theory course, students cannot recite answers quickly and spontaneously without more study and reflection before speaking out on each question posed. Neither the theory students nor their theory instructor can provide answers instantaneously without time to reflect, seek out passages in books, search the Web, build a model, etc. Students who are forced to speak out when they are unprepared may be wasting everybody's time. For this reason, asynchronous messaging is more important at the theory level. It gives students more opportunity to think out their ideas and become better prepared before speaking out.

Newer technologies allow online courses to be even more collaborative than onsite courses. For example, Sharon Lightner teaches international accounting synchronously online where international standard setters and practioners have a virtual presence with her online students. See  It is much more complicated to bring experts into every class and to be available when an interesting issue spontaneously arises.

One of the things that I am growing less fond of are face-to-face meetings of professors and experts where we are "forced to" contemplate complex issues and make innovative comments in a prescribed interval of time such as 50 minutes or 120 minutes. Participants who cannot think of something worthwhile to say at the round tables might have something truly interesting and innovative to pass along given some time (say a week or a month) to ponder the issues at hand. But in the time constraints of a face-to-face session, they just do not offer much to the conversation --- conversation that boils down to mostly a waste of time after several such sessions in a day. Given longer periods online, participants will more likely make better contributions to the online community.

These are just a few thoughts on what is a very controversial issue in distance education. My take on this is that it might be better to teach theory online rather than nuts and bolts. But I am delighted that Amy reports such great success teaching nuts and bolts online. I should point out, however, that her students were graduate students in corporate tax who most likely were more mature than undergraduates still trying to put academics in context vis-à-vis fraternity and sorority life. 

In any case, I say BRAVO Amy.

Bob (Robert E.) Jensen Jesse H. Jones Distinguished Professor of Business Trinity University, San Antonio, TX 78212 Voice: (210) 999-7347 Fax: (210) 999-8134 


Some Technology Resources Available to Educators

"Accountability: Meeting The Challenge With Technology," Technology & Learning, January 2002, Page 32 --- 


Update on Authorware and eLearning Studio from Macromedia

Update on Authorware from Syllabus e-News on August 21, 2001

New Products Provide Courseware Development

Macromedia recently announced its eLearning Studio, which combines the new Authorware 6, the visual authoring product for creating interactive, e-learning applications, with Flash 5 and Dreamweaver 4 to provide an authoring solution for e- learning. eLearning Studio is compatible with ADL, AICC, and IMS, as well as traditional Web standards. New features in Authorware 6 include One Button Publishing for the Web and CD-ROM, enhanced external media support, drag-and-drop media synchronization, and support for streaming MP3 audio and XML parsing. Both products are expected to be available in September. Free templates and product extensions are available on Macromedia Exchange at .

Ideas for Modifying Traditional Classroom Materials Into Online Learning Materials

One of the most frequently asked questions asked in my education technology workshops is as follows:  
"In what ways should course content materials be modified for online learning?"

My quick and dirty response is that faculty who develop content should learn how to use FrontPage or some other good HTML editor and then learn how to screen capture and video capture themselves rather than relying upon technicians.  You can learn Microsoft FrontPage, screen capturing, and Camtasia video capturing in just a few days with a little help from your friends.  With a little added effort, you can make your online course materials more interactive by saving Excel worksheets as interactive Webpages and by learning how to use JavaScript.  You can learn all of these things in less than a week if you have the correct software and hardware.

  1. Use more screen captures, audio captures, and video captures of things that you normally demo in lecture presentations.   Look under "Resources" at 
    Also see my tutorials at 

  2. MP3 Audio
    Audio capturing is especially important since you can let students hear what you like to say in lectures or case discussions.  For example, in an Excel spreadsheet you can add buttons that students can click on to hear your explanation of what is going on in various cells of the spreadsheet.  Look under "Resources" at 

  3. Camtasia AVI Versus RM Recordings --- See 
    Flesh in PowerPoint, Excel, or other presentations with video and audio.  Camtasia works great for both capturing dynamic computer screen presentations in video accompanied by your audio explanations.  Your video files may take up more space than you are allowed on your Web server.  However, you can save them to CD-R or CD-RW disks that can be sold to students for around $1.00 per disk. You can learn more about Camtasia from .  You can make CDs by simply dragging files to a blank CD using Windows Explorer if you first install Easy CD ( ).  

    For video illustrations and tutorials, see 

  4. Excel Saved as Webpages Can Add Interactivity In Imaginative Ways
    Suppose that you want to have students make journal entries in a HTML Webpage.  Or suppose you want to see the impact of interest rate swap valuations with changes in forward yield curve estimates. 

    Or suppose you want an interactive Excel chart imported into a HTML Webpage where the chart will change when the reader changes the loan principal, interest rate, or maturity date. 

    For illustrations on publishing Excel workbooks, spreadsheets, or charts as interactive Webpages, see 

    For videos and tutorials, see 

  5. JavaScript Calculations and Interactivity
    Try to make your online materials more interactive by saving Excel workbooks as interactive Webpages and use of JavaScipt.  For my JavaScript tutorials, see .  

  6. Amy Dunbar's Online Pedagogy
    Make a lot more use of online questions and answers that replace the question and answer type of style that you probably use in lectures.  Amy Dunbar uses this approach extensively.  You can read about how she developed her first online course.  See 

For the rest of this item, go to 

"Changing the Interface of Education with Revolutionary Learning Technologies,"  by Nishikant Sonwalkar, Syllabus, November 2001, pp. 10-13 --- 

Recent developments in digital imaging, streaming audio and video, and interactive human-machine interfaces provide a wealth of opportunities to enhance the learning experience. More important than the technologies, however, is the context in which the multimedia enhancements are presented to learners. The design and development of combined media components—text, graphics, audio, video, animation, and simulations—for enhancing the learning process will depend on the learning model appropriate for the delivery of given course content. A list of a few potential multimedia enhancements might include:

Video, animations, and simulations offer exceptional potential for enhancing the interface of education. Experimental demonstrations and real-life experiences and situations can be captured on video and provided as digital video.

Continued at 

Also see


Related documents on these topics are available at 

Bob Jensen's homepage is at