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On-Line Articles

Instructional Strategies that Teach

By M. David Merrill
CBT Solutions, 1998
Copyright SB Communications

This is a power packed article by a highly respected expert in instructional design. His comments should challenge every instructional designer and every developer of CBT courseware to step back and take a hard look at what they are doing.

Dr. Merrill makes it clear that the first concern when developing CBT courseware is instructional strategies.

With Gagne's contention that, "the acquisition of different types of knowledge and skill require different conditions for learning." as background, consider the following excerpt from Merrill's paper.

A complete instructional strategy consists of a knowledge structure consistent with, and appropriate for, the knowledge and skill being taught, a presentation consistent with, and appropriate for, the kind of knowledge or skill being taught, an opportunity for exploration of the ideas being taught, practice with feedback consistent with, and appropriate for, the knowledge or skill being taught, and learner guidance consistent with, and appropriate for, the knowledge and skill being taught."

Now go back and read the excerpt again paying particular attention to Merril's use of "consistent with, and appropriate for". Can any of us honestly say we always design our instruction to satisfy these conditions? Have we ever done it?

This short paper by Merrill should challenge every CBT developer to keep Gagne's and Merrill's books closer than his/her daytimer.

Developing Instruction or Instructional Design

By Don Clark
Copyright 2004 by Donald Clark

This page presents five theories for developing instruction. The five models should be read first as they provide a framework to build upon and are fairly consistent in their approach. The two main differences are the level of detail that they go into and the semantics.

The sixth section brings the theories together in an easy to follow model for ID design. This is followed by a section of resource of templates.

Mr. Clark's website contains a tremendous amount of material. You can access it from HERE

Starting Points

Multimedia Authoring

Maintained by Maricopa Community Colleges

The Multimedia Authoring site is strictly a "Starting Point" site because it is a huge list of links to sites related to all aspects of multimedia authoring. As of June 3, 1998 the site contained 690 links divided into 18 categories.

The site is equipped with a good search engine which permits you to browse an entire category or search by keyword in a single category or the entire database.

A helpful feature is the inclusion of a brief explanation of each of their categories.

WBT Information Center

Maintained by Tim Kilby

This is a large site with many resources of value to anyone interested in CBT/WBT. The site is maintained by Tim Kirby as a non-profit resource. At the WBT Information Center you will have access to four discussion groups, a WBT primer, a slide show of a talk presented by Tim Kirby, and links to many valuable resources.

The Web-Based Training Information Center was first established online in December 1994, and exhibits four years of diligent attention by Mr. Kirby.

This is not a site to be visited once. It should be one of those sites that you revisit again and again to study the information on the site and at the resource links.

Emphasis is on adult learning and developing WBT for the adult learner.

Instructional Technology Research Online

Maintained by Instructional Technology Research Online

Research Online opens with a list of articles related to Computer Based Training which are available online. The list is arranged alphabetically by author and each title is a link to the article. A good collection of papers by experts and leaders in CBT.

At the end of the list are two very useful links, Features and Links. When you follow Features, you can access interviews with leaders in the field of CBT, lists of award winning Web sites related to CBT and WBT (with links of course), and critical book reviews. When you click on Links you are presented with a large list of related links in the following ten categories:

  • Associations
  • IT Indexes And Lists
  • Online Journals
  • Newsgroups
  • InTRO's K-12 Links
  • Academic Departments
  • Academic Service Units
  • Miscellaneous Resources
  • Listservs
  • Links to InTRO

Reducing The High Cost of Education

The rapidly and ever increasing high cost of a college education has received considerable attention the last few years. Much has been written, many statistics have been presented, and some attempts to reduce that cost have emerged. Vol. 115 No. 6 of the MIT Technology Review contains two articles about current attempts to use technology to reduce the cost. These articles focus on "Massive Open Online Courses" (MOOC). On the Internet it is easy to find articles about similar activities. Simply look for Open Educational Resources (OER).

Some estimates claim the cost of textbooks accounts for nearly 25% of the total cost of an education. In this section we present some ideas for reducing the cost of textbooks.
Some ways to reduce textbook costs

Renting Textbooks

Why should you rent textbooks?

One of the main online textbook rental companies describes the process of textbook rentals online.

In 2010 the State of Connecticut released a report which described several of the rental plans being used in the state schools.

Google searches will reveal a multitude of articles about textbook rentals.

Textbook rental is available at Amazon, old-line brick and mortar stores, online rental companies, and college book stores.

TIP Database

The Theory into Practice Database (TIP)

TIP is now part of InstructionalDesign.org.
TIP is a tool intended to make learning and instructional theory more accessible to educators. The database contains brief summarizes of 50 major theories of learning and instruction, 18 learning domains, and 19 learning concepts. There is some cross referencing and many links to sources outside the database. Of course the site also contains a short list (with links) of related web sites.

The site is maintained by Greg Kearsley, a professor of Instructional Technology & Distance Education at Nova Southeastern University in Fort Lauderdale, FL.

Studying the Instructional Design

If you are new to the subject of Instructional Design it may seem overwhelming.
You can get a grip on the subject by beginning and organizing your study according to the following titles and categories.
Much of TIPS is organized into these three catagories.


Conditions of Learning (R. Gagne)
Component Display Theory (M.D. Merrill)
Criterion Referenced Instruction (R. Mager)
Adult Learning Theory (P. Cross)

Learning Domains

Problem Solving

Learning Concepts

Cognitive/Learning Styles
Learning Strategies
Sequencing of Instruction