Migrating to A New Site

Recent News :

Dear visitors, we are regrefully inform you that we are planning to migrate this Digital Enquirer web blog
to : The Digital Enquirer ‘2’ in Blogspot.com for some unintentional reasons.

Please visit the new sites as this WordPress’ Digital Enquirer is being suspended by the author
(Hikmat Surya Permana). We’re really sorry for inconvenience that you might have.

This site is still open though without further postings and updates.



Hope to see you soon in the new site.
Best Regards,

Hikmat Surya Permana


Getting Online. A Newbie Story.

Personal News and Info, Out of Topic,

In a late May 2008, I began a new revolution in my life. I buy an account of internet access so I can be online right from my comfortable house. In the stone ages, I used to go to an internet cafe back and forth just to read emails, browsing to search some information, downloading things, all kind of netting.

But in a sudden, my life and my schedules were changed, sleep late at night, going to the office was just always in a rush, all changed. It’s because the new internet access just right in my desktop.

With a pack of cigarettes and a cup of coffee, I began online activites emailing, browsing, downloading, chatting. Again and again. Had my harddrives full and hanged. Then fixing my desktop, get hanged again.  Until now, it’s my third times my HD hanged since I had an internet.

My english is still bad, my bad! I’m learning it. Yeah, in a few months later I’ ll be a fluent English speaker and writer. It’s promise to myself.  I know http://www.engrish.com I have  a lot of friends there, LOL.

Now I’m looking back to the the past when I had this internet access. So much has changed. I feel like I’m a newbie again. I’m always a newbie after all, Internet and computing are always in the state of art. New inventions are happen every second.

And now after posting some educational technology articles and journals that had been wrote by the experts a few years ago, which is not me, I’m thinking of posting articles about Getting online, a newbie tips, and something like that. Yes, The Digital Enquirer means The Digital Living, and we’ll provide the tips about it.

Best regards,

Hikmat Surya Permana
The Digital Enquirer.

Theory into practice: The design of an online technology skills course for nontraditional nursing students

Theory into practice: The design of an online technology skills course for nontraditional nursing students

Suzanne P. Stokes, Ph.D.
Troy State University, AL

Krista P. Terry, Ph.D.
Radford University


Nontraditional students in an upward mobility nursing track delivered largely through distance learning technologies enroll in a one-hour credit elective course to learn skills required for success in the online learning environment. The course, “Introduction to Technology in Nursing Education,” began as a traditional classroom course. Its transformation to an online course reflects strengths inherent through using a systematic instructional design process in course development. An overview of the Dick, Carey, and Carey (2002) model of instructional design, examples of design components reflected in the course, and illustrations of instructional objectives and strategies from the lessons are presented.


Designing and developing online learning environments for purposes of allowing students access to course materials, methods in which they can interact with content, and mechanisms for communication with faculty and peers is the focus of many practitioners, researchers, and administrators within the educational environment. While many publications serve to bridge the “theory to practice” gap when developing online education (e.g., Clark & Mayer, 2003; Mantyla, 1999; Stephenson, 2001) this paper attempts to bring into focus practical issues surrounding theory-based design and development of an online course for nurses. Consequently, it will provide a discussion of the development of an online basic technology skills course in the nursing program at a mid-sized comprehensive institution in the southeastern United States.

Providing online, web-based learning is the primary method of instructional delivery for students enrolled in a Registered Nurse (RN) to BSN-MSN degree track within the School of Nursing. The purpose of this degree track is to allow Registered Nurses who have earned the Associate of Science in Nursing degree to complete the nursing sequence required for the Bachelor of Science in Nursing degree in one academic year and, if desired, move seamlessly into the Master of Science in Nursing degree program. Registered Nurse students in this track are typically full-time nurses living in the predominantly rural southeastern quadrant of Alabama. Time and location constraints imposed by work, family, and community involvement make the choice of a distance learning program appealing. Because of the unique nature of nursing education, the program is delivered via a blended methodology. Theory courses are delivered in an online, web-based mode while clinical experiences are personalized to meet individual needs and are conducted in facilities in students’ locales. Additionally, students have their choice of three branch campus sites at which they can receive student services, attend course orientation sessions, and take selected written and skills examinations.

Because of the heavy online component of the degree track, nursing program administrators committed themselves to preparing these nontraditional students for success in the program and satisfaction with their educational experiences. Results of studies by McCoy (2001) and Stokes (2001) indicate that students who have prior experience with using the World Wide Web are more likely to be satisfied with their online educational experiences. Recommendations from McCoy’s investigation of technological self-efficacy of nontraditional nursing students include developing strategies to enhance students’ technology skills and techniques for self-directed learning. Earlier work by Stokes (1999) found that public school teachers entering a graduate program with online components including an introductory technology skills course were able to identify their technological weaknesses, and through guided coursework, develop skills important to success in the degree program. The results of these studies therefore provided the basis for the development of an introductory technology course in which nursing faculty could equip students with the technology skills necessary for them to succeed in a primarily online learning environment. The “NSG 1160 – Introduction to Technology in Nursing Education” course (shortened to “Introduction to Technology” in this paper) was then designed, developed, and delivered to entry level students enrolled in the RN to BSN-MSN track.
Evolution of the Course

The online adaptation of the “Introduction to Technology” course evolved over four years. When faculty in the RN to BSN-MSN track observed that the program’s first group of nontraditional students was experiencing technology obstacles to learning, even though students had completed a prerequisite basic computer applications course as part of the University’s general studies requirements, a request for an online technology orientation session was submitted. This request was further substantiated by some students expressing frustration with adjusting to a return to college and adapting to a learning format that differed substantially from their previous learning experiences. To address these matters, the second year’s group of Registered Nurses entering the degree track was encouraged to participate in a basic technology orientation session delivered online during the week prior to the beginning of classes. The content was suggested by nursing faculty and was based on required nursing course activities that included synchronous and asynchronous communication, submitting work as email attachments, and using electronic databases for scholarly research. The orientation leader quickly noted considerable technology deficits in most students as well as a lack of basic software important for course activities, although students were informed of software requirements upon acceptance into the program. Course faculty saw only a moderate decrease in technology obstacles when the new term began. As the situation was assessed, suggestions were made that the orientation’s length and timing be changed to take into account individual differences in learning needs and learning paces, as well as to encourage students to complete arrangements for access to necessary software such as Microsoft Word and PowerPoint prior to the beginning of the term.

During the time the RN to BSN-MSN track was initiated, a new one-credit hour elective course for traditional nursing students wishing to improve their technology skills was offered in the School of Nursing’s baccalaureate program. “Introduction to Technology,” the course that has been referred to previously, blended faculty presentations with computer-based learning activities. The instructor was present at all class sessions to provide immediate assistance as needed. Since the objectives of this course matched the needs identified in students in the RN to BSN-MSN track. A ssection of “Introduction to Technology” was modified for online delivery during the summer semester prior to the fall class of new RN students. The program director encouraged each student to enroll in the course. The course instructor guided students through skills activities; students practiced skills, realized the need for required software, and were technologically ready for beginning the program the following semester. Substantial improvements were noted by program faculty, and students’ evaluations of the online format were much more favorable than in the previous year. Between the third and fourth years, the course was redesigned based on the Dick, Carey, and Carey (2002) model of instructional design. The details related to the course as it now exists, as well as the theory that supported the design and development of the course, are described in the following sections.

Overview — NSG 1160 – Introduction to Technology

The catalog description for the course, “Introduction to Technology in Nursing Education,” states that the course:

Provides a foundation for using computer technology in learning; addresses digital communication, resources, and research. General topics include communication through electronic mail and course discussion, using the World Wide Web as an information tool, online scholarly research, and digital presentations. Course focus is the application of technology skills in learning (Troy State University, 2003, p. 291).

The general course objectives state that upon successful completion of the course, the student will be able to:

· demonstrate basic competency in core information technology skills;
· communicate using synchronous and asynchronous electronic processes;
· conduct Internet inquiry sessions for retrieval of nursing information;
· manage communication and information files in a digital environment, and
· develop electronic presentations for educational use.

There is no text for the course since all materials are available through the Internet. However, students are required to purchase a three-ring notebook, divider tabs, and a diskette. In addition, students are required to have access to a computer with an Internet connection, a printer, Web browser (Microsoft Internet Explorer or Netscape Navigator, version 4 or higher), Microsoft Word, and Microsoft PowerPoint. Downloading Acrobat Reader and obtaining current virus protection software are covered in the course lessons. Access to course materials is through the university’s course management system via University-assigned usernames and passwords.
Table 1. Basic lessons and examples of corresponding instructional objectives for “Introduction to Technology.”


Examples of Lesson Objectives
Upon completion of the lesson, the student will be able to:

1. Acrobat Reader Download Acrobat Reader to a personal computer; Install Acrobat Reader on a personal computer; Print a .pdf document using a local or network printer;
2. Syllabus Locate a course syllabus through a Blackboard course web site; Identify required course hardware and software; Identify University student support services.
3. Course Portfolio Develop an organized notebook of course materials; Maintain course records including assignment receipts and copies of submitted work as directed in lesson instructions; Use archived course materials for future reference
4. TSU Email Login to the University’s email system from any computer with Internet access; Organize program, course, and personal email communications in appropriate folders; Send email file attachments to course instructors and classmates.
5. Blackboard (Bb) Navigate through a Blackboard course site; Maintain current personal information in the appropriate area of Blackboard throughout the degree program; Use the Blackboard online manual for assistance when needed
6. Virus Protection Maintain up-to-date virus protection software on a personal computer; Describe how computer viruses and worms spread; Recognize an Internet hoax.
7. TSU Technology Policy Locate the University’s technology use policy; Acknowledge obligations of users of University technology resources; Recognize violations of the technology use policy;
8. Netiquette Identify objectionable behaviors frequently observed in electronic communication; Practice Internet etiquette / netiquette in all electronic communication;Follow guidelines for email communication specific to particular courses i.e., email subject line, body format, and signature.
9. Internet Terms Define words and abbreviations commonly used in technology-based environments; Look up unknown words and abbreviations encountered in web-based courses; Use Internet terms properly in verbal and written communication.
10. School of Nursing web site Use the School of Nursing web site as a primary resource for University and program information. Find tutorials for technology skills required for nursing courses in the Student Technology Help Pages.Direct nursing-related communication to the appropriate individual.
11. Web Resources Use search engines to locate resources on the Internet for course work; Maximize Internet searches by using advanced search techniques and specialized search engines; Explain the elements of a URL.
12. Evaluating Web Resources Evaluate a web site according to authority, purpose, currency, objectivity, and support; Identify the preferred domains for acquiring sound health information; Use a standardized form for evaluating web resources.
13. CINAHL Locate full-text scholarly articles in CINAHL through the TSU Library’s Remote Services area from a computer with Internet access; Use the library’s InterLibrary Loan (ILL) service to obtain copies of articles not available through CINAHL; Access the library’s online librarian service when questions or problems arise.
14. APA Style Produce a reference page of scholarly research formatted according to the Publication Manual of the American Psychological Association (APA), 5th edition; Identify errors common in using APA formatting for reference pages; Consult the University’s Writing Center for assistance with questions regarding APA formatting requirements.
15. Trojan Web Express Use Trojan Web Express for accessing individual University records; Maintain up-to-date personal information in the University’s database through Trojan Web Express;Manage course enrollment through Trojan Web Express
16. Discussion Board Access course-specific Blackboard discussion forums; Interact with classmates in an asynchronous discussion setting; Follow established rules of discussion forums.
17. Virtual Chat Access course-specific Blackboard chat rooms; Interact with classmates in a synchronous discussion setting; Search chat session archives for specific information.

The course is comprised of 17 basic lessons, two projects, a written examination, and a skills demonstration, all of which were derived from and correlated with the instructional objectives of the course (see Table 1 above). Table 2 provides a summary of each lesson’s purpose and selected activities. The two course projects are the development of a reference page that is comprised of resources from the World Wide Web and the CINAHL database (Cumulative Index of Nursing and Allied Health Literature) formatted according to APA style, and the development of a PowerPoint slide show that incorporates basic elements of an electronic presentation. Using APA format and the CINAHL database are components of the BSN and MSN curricular requirements, and because baccalaureate nursing graduates are expected to be producers of knowledge as well as consumers of knowledge, PowerPoint software was chosen as the medium for simulating information transfer from the nurse to the client community. Each student selects a health topic to use for both projects; this strategy helps students learn to take a single topic, locate consumer and scholarly resources, evaluate resources related to the topic, and incorporate information into a classroom presentation with an accurate reference list.

Table 2. Examples of lesson components for “Introduction to Technology.”

Purpose (Condensed)
Examples of Activities
1. Acrobat Reader Acrobat Reader software is required to view and print many documents including syllabi, PowerPoint course enhancements, scholarly reading material through the TSU Library, and University documents. Determine if Acrobat Reader is installed by opening a .pdf file on the course web site. Download Acrobat Reader if needed. Print the poem in the .pdf file for the course portfolio.
2. Syllabus The syllabus is the guide for course requirements, grading criteria, calendar, and general course information including course and program policies. Locate and print the course syllabus for the course portfolio. Identify specific course elements including the course description, course objectives, evaluation components, and calendar.Submit the online lesson completion form.
3. Course Portfolio The course portfolio is a notebook for course documents; assembling the portfolio is a strategy for organization of materials in this and future courses. Purchase a 1″ notebook with a clear sleeve on the front, 5 tab dividers, and a 3.5″ diskette.Label the tabs according to instructions and file papers in the appropriate sections. Create a cover page for the notebook using PowerPoint.
4. TSU Email TSU email is the official account used in this course and throughout the nursing program. Developing email management skills enhances organizational skills. The attachment portion of this lesson checks the compatibility of the students’ word processing programs with Microsoft Word, the standard word processing program used by University faculty. Login to Trojan WebMail.§ Create a personal email profile. Create a class folder for all email correspondence.Practice sending a message to self with BCC to self; store the copy in the class folder.Send an email with a Word file attachment to the instructor; open an attachment from the instructor.
5. Blackboard (Bb) TSU uses the Blackboard (Bb) course management system in all courses. All School of Nursing courses use a uniform pattern for posting course materials Browse each of the following Bb areas: announcements, faculty information, course material, communication, web sites, and user tools. Update personal information in the User Tools area.Use the online Student Manual in the User Tools area to find out how to access old announcements.
6. Virus Protection Understanding types of computer infections and taking measures for protection is essential when working in an online environment. Read selected materials about infections and hoaxes. Verify that the computer you are using has virus protection software installed.Check the date when your virus protection software was last updated.
7. TSU Technology Policy All users of TSU technology resources must comply with this official University policy. Locate the TSU Technology Use Policy in the online version of the student handbook. Read the policy. Submit the online form indicating that the policy has been read.
8. Netiquette Using proper Internet etiquette (netiquette) is essential in professional communication. Read the “Core Rules of Netiquette” at http://www.albion.com/netiquette; Take the “Netiquette Quiz.” Send the instructor an email that correctly portrays the three basic elements: email subject line, body format, and signature.
9. Internet Terms Understanding words and abbreviations encountered when using technology is important for getting the most out of lessons and making the best use of time spent interacting with technology. Look up the meanings of selected terms and abbreviations in http://whatis.techtarget.com/ (a list of terms is provided).Respond to lesson questions that incorporate these terms.
10. School of Nursing web site The school’s official web site provides key information for students and links to resources important for success in the degree programs and tracks. Add the SON home page to Favorites (Internet Explorer) or Bookmarks (Netscape). Visit each area linked from the home page.§ Identify selected items in the site (a list is provided).
11. Web Resources Learning to find and evaluate information available through the web are essential skills in using technology in learning. Information located in this lesson will be incorporated into the Reference Page project and PowerPoint presentation. Review search engine types through “Search Engine Watch”§ Practice finding specific sites using techniques found in “Search Engine Math.” Participate in the lesson’s scavenger hunt
12. Evaluating Web Resources A common error made by Internet users is to accept information found on the Internet as fact; applying criteria for resource evaluation is important in nursing education. Read selected materials about evaluating web resources.Evaluate three sites according to a check sheet provided in the lesson.§ Identify three quality sites related to course research topic to use in the course projects.
13. CINAHL CINAHL (Cumulative Index to Nursing and Allied Health Literature) is a major source of scholarly nursing resources; students are expected to use material found through CINAHL in the theory portion of all nursing courses. Access the CINAHL database through the remote services area of the TSU Library’s web site. Practice finding selected articles when given citations or subjects. Locate three full text articles related to course research topic to use in the course projects.
14. APA Style The School of Nursing requires students to use APA format when writing papers and submitting references for any project Bookmark selected online APA style information pages to use as resources when working with APA style.Visit the University’s Writing Center web site. Answer lesson questions about APA formatting in references pages.
15. Trojan Web Express TSU students use TWE for course registration, accessing grades, viewing transcripts, and gaining access to other official personal University information. Login to Trojan Web Express.§ Change the default or current password and specify a hint for the new password. Look at your latest transcript
16. Discussion Board The Blackboard discussion board feature is a component of all online classes; navigating through forums and maintaining discussions in established threads is essential for maximum asynchronous interactivity. Enter a discussion board forum. Participate in an instructor-lead thread. Begin a new thread within a designated forum.
17. Virtual Chat The Blackboard chat area provides a synchronous forum for formal and informal class meetings. Participate in one scheduled class chat session. Resize the chat screen so that at least twenty lines of chat are visible.Review your comments in the archive of the chat session in which you participated.

Although the skills demonstration at the end of the course provides a performance assessment opportunity from which the instructor can evaluate the cumulative skills of each student, the instructor’s observations of students’ work and their questions as they progress through the lesson tasks are key formative evaluations of the instructional materials design. In addition, these observations serve as a lesson to the instructor of the many means that students discover to reach the end product. Because the instructor is the course designer, these observations assist in refining instructional materials and related tutorials to guide students in the best methods of executing skills related to learning in an online environment.

Instructional Design Model

The “Introduction to Technology” course that has been described was designed and developed to meet specific needs within the nursing program. The course designer and developer utilized the Dick, Carey, and Carey (2002) model of instructional design as a basis for designing a pedagogically-sound course that could be delivered via an online environment to meet the needs of the nursing students. The following paragraphs describe how each phase of the design model was addressed as the course was redesigned from a traditional to a web-based format, therefore addressing both the theoretical and practical aspects of delivering a technology skills course in an online environment to nursing students.

The Dick, Carey, and Carey (2002) model of instructional design is based on a systems approach to designing instruction which identifies many components of a learning system as being crucial to developing successful learning environments. Instructional design models that are based in a systems approach generally assume that a large amount of instruction, such as an entire course, will be developed and that a significant amount of resources will be devoted to the development process (Gustafson and Branch, 1997). Other instructional design models that are based on the systems approach are the Smith and Ragan (1999) model and the Interservices Procedures for Instructional Systems Development (IPISD) (Branson, 1975) model. Although all models vary in their levels of specificity and complexity, each is based on the typical processes of the major phases of instructional systems design; these are analysis, design, development, implementation and evaluation (Dick, Carey, and Carey 2002). The Dick, Carey, and Carey model consists of the following specific phases:

· Assess needs to identify goals
· Conduct instructional analysis
· Analyze learners and contexts
· Write performance objectives
· Develop assessment instruments
· Develop instructional strategy
· Develop and select instructional materials
· Design and conduct formative evaluation of instruction
· Revise instruction
· Design and conduct summative evaluation

Each of these phases of the model was critical to the design and development of the “Introduction to Technology” course as it now exists. What follows is a discussion of how each phase was applied to the development of the course.

Assessing Needs to Identify Goals

Dick, Carey, and Carey (2002) identify the most critical event in the instructional design process as being that of the identification of the instructional goal. This goal, derived from processes of assessing needs, can be developed and articulated by using a subject matter expert approach in which designers develop instruction in their areas of expertise, or the performance technology approach, in which the designers develop instruction in response to a set of problems or opportunities. Regardless of the methods, course designers engage in a process to determine the needs that will be addressed by the instruction, therefore forming the instructional goal.

The instructor who developed the “Introduction to Technology” course was a subject matter expert, therefore the methodology employed to determine the needs that shaped the instructional goal was both content generated and generated via the performance technology approach. Nursing faculty members who contributed to the needs assessment recognized the importance of student success and satisfaction from a student-centered, programmatic, and institutional perspective, and understood the need to develop a technology-based course that would attempt to facilitate the success of students who would be learning via a technology-based medium. Learner satisfaction is an important factor in the effectiveness of instruction and in program-related benefits (Biner, Dean, & Mellinger, 1994; Chute, Thompson, & Hancock, 1999). High levels of satisfaction with distance learning, regardless of the medium, influence students’ willingness to continue in a program. This willingness is evidenced by lower attrition rates, more referrals from enrolled students, greater motivation, better learning, and increased commitment to the program. The need to develop technological skill and competence in an online learning environment was therefore responded to by creating a course in which the instructional goal was to provide the students with a foundation for learning in a technology-based environment.
Instructional Analysis

Once the goal of promoting student success and satisfaction in an online environment was established, the process of conducting the instructional analysis was undertaken. This process, which involves identifying the specific skills and knowledge base that should be included in instruction, requires breaking the instructional goal down into discrete units in order to identify skills and the relative subordinate skills learners will need to possess to achieve the goal. According to Dick, Carey, and Carey (2002), when conducting the instructional analysis, the designer should ask, “what exactly would learners be doing if they were demonstrating that they already could perform the goal?” (p. 37). This process led to the identification of skills that students would need for tasks such as accessing course materials, communicating through email, locating Internet and library resources, completing online forms and quizzes, and developing class presentation materials. In addition, skills important for accessing University services such as the Writing Center, basic computer skills assistance, and administrative elements including grades and transcripts were determined. Each skill area was examined in a step-by-step manner in an attempt to identify all relevant subordinate skills and eliminate assumptions of prior knowledge or experience. Areas where experience was expected but not assured were linked to subject area experts for individual student assistance. Table 1 outlines the specific lessons that were developed as a result of the goal analysis phase that identified the skills needed to succeed in the online learning environment of the RN to BSN-MSN track.

Learner and Contextual Analysis

After determining the specific set of skills that need to be taught in order for the learners to be able to achieve the instructional goal, Dick, Carey, and Carey (2002) recommend conducting a learner and contextual analysis in order to determine “the characteristics of the learners, the contexts in which the instruction will be delivered, and the contexts in which the skills will eventually be used” (p. 95). They acknowledge that at times the designer may have sufficient knowledge of the target population to forego formal data collection, but they recommend areas in which designers should have knowledge of their target population. The authors (2002) recommend gathering information such as entry behaviors and prior knowledge, attitudes and motivational levels, general learning preferences, and group characteristics. This information serves to assist designers with developing instruction that will meet the needs of their students and will transfer to appropriate contexts.

Learners’ needs in the “Introduction to Technology” course were identified based upon prior experiences with students in traditional and online learning environments, and through discussions with program faculty who requested the course option for RN students. This anticipatory analysis indicated that some students would have minimal prior experience with using computers while others would have high levels of expertise and confidence. The wide variation expected in learners’ abilities and attitudes was the determining factor in developing formative assessment activities. Because the targeted students were adult learners, the necessity for relevant activities was emphasized. Additionally, it was believed that most prior educational experiences were traditional in which the classroom situation was teacher-centered rather than learner-centered. Transferring the responsibility for learning to the student was perceived as a key need as well as a major course purpose. The emphasis on self-directed and problem-centered learning, fundamental in Knowles’s (1970) theory of androgogy, is consistent with the constructivist model that is particularly appropriate for teaching and learning using emerging technologies (Lunenberg, 1998).

Writing Instructional Objectives

The writing of instructional objectives, or behavioral objectives as they are sometimes referred to, is a process that is seen as being central to designing instruction. Authors such as Robert Mager have greatly influenced the educational community by publishing books that provide instructions for writing clear and precise statements of what learners should be able to do when they complete the instruction (Mager, 1975). The objectives written for “Introduction to Technology” followed the model set forth by Mager and described in other instructional design models. The lesson objectives (see Table 1) contained clear, concise statements of what learners would be able to do as a result of their participation in the instructional activities of the course.

The course objectives were established when the original traditional section of the course was approved by the University and therefore were not altered for the online course section. The course sections are the same course, differing only in the method of delivery. Because the objectives were well developed for the traditional section of the course, no problems existed in their use as the online section was developed. The outcomes specified by the objectives guided the plans for measuring achievement Course activities were planned so that areas of weakness would be evident, and opportunities for corrections to work submitted were given throughout the course (see Table 1 for examples of lesson objectives).

Assessment strategies and instruments

After developing sound instructional objectives, Dick, Carey, and Carey (2002) recommend the development of assessment instruments that evaluate learners’ progress and instructional quality, and that are both learner-centered and criterion-referenced. Basing the assessment measures on the instructional objectives and goals of the course provides learners with a clear conception of what skills they will need to master, and provides instructors with information as to how well the students are mastering the skills and how effective instructional materials are at facilitating learning. “Introduction to Technology” relies on performance-based assessment measures to assess the learners’ levels of progress toward obtaining the instructional goal. Projects were designed to allow both direct and indirect demonstrations of skills. The summative assessment is comprised of an individual timed skills demonstration and a computer-based exam.

Instructional Strategies

Dick, Carey, and Carey’s (2002) discussion on developing instructional strategies – the chunking, sequencing, and presentation of materials – relies on a primarily prescriptive approach in which the learning components are tied directly to the content structure. Dick, Carey, and Carey, however, recognize alternative approaches such as constructivism as being viable alternatives for presenting and facilitating instruction. Tapscott [1998] described learning based on digital media as interactive learning that is learner-centered with a focus on the construction of knowledge, as compared to the broadcast learning that is teacher-centered and focuses on instruction. The designer of the “Introduction to Technology” course blended both prescriptive and alternative approaches to developing instruction in order to tie learning to the stated objectives and engage learners in authentic problem-solving tasks. The instructional strategies employed within the course followed a pedagogical model advocated by Jonassen (2003) in which learners are engaged in meaningful learning tasks and are actively learning from technology and with technology.

Course lessons were planned to guide each student individually through tasks. Each lesson ended with students submitting forms indicating that the lesson had been completed; completing a lesson carried no point value. However, because students were aware that skills from each lesson would be evaluated at the final exam, those who needed help in completing the lessons requested received assistance from the instructor before leaving the lesson. The course was divided into three sections to reflect the overall instructional strategy of learning skills, applying knowledge through activities and projects, and evaluation of skills and knowledge through summative assessments. Course sections were basic lessons, projects, and evaluation. Lesson and project component pages stated the purpose and objectives of each component, followed by sequential tasks to acquire or improve skills needed to accomplish each objective. Students were then asked to work through the material in a self-directed manner. Because students determined for themselves when lessons had been completed, accountability for learning was transferred from the instructor to the student, therefore engaging the students in authentic, problem-solving tasks, which are more typical of the constructivist paradigm of learning.

Instructional Materials

Dick, Carey, and Carey (2002) describe the “developing instructional materials” phase of their systematic design process as being one in which the designer decides on the delivery system and media selection, the amount of instructor facilitation, and the components of the instructional package (e.g., instructional materials and assessments). While the authors discuss many of the options and constraints inherent in choosing a delivery system, they also acknowledge that at times those choices are assumed and such related choices will be fairly stable.

Since the goal of “Introduction to Technology” was to engage students in a technology-based learning experience in an online learning environment, the media choice and options regarding subsequent materials development procedures were assumed and thus stable. Instructional materials development therefore was based upon the medium, which in this case was the course web site. This was the appropriate format in that students were preparing for entry into an online instructional track of the nursing degree program. The department in which the course was developed and delivered already employed the Blackboard course management system as the primary mechanism for the delivery of course materials.

Formative Evaluation, Revision of Instruction, and Summative Evaluation

The final stages of the Dick, Carey, and Carey (2002) systematic model of instructional design involve designing and conducting formative evaluations, revising instruction, and designing and conducting summative evaluations. The goal of the formative evaluation process is to develop materials and methods through which learners can provide information to the instructor or designer relative to the effectiveness of the course materials. Dick, Carey, and Carey recommend that evaluation instruments be designed to gather information related to the clarity of instruction, the impact of the instruction on the learner, and the general feasibility of the instruction. The data gathered from this evaluation process is intended to inform the process of revising materials to better meet students’ needs. Consequently the final stage of summative evaluation becomes a stage in which data is gathered to make decisions about the continued use of the instruction.

Although formal data collection measures were not developed within the “Introduction to Technology” course, questions and comments from students provided data for formative evaluation of instruction throughout the delivery of the course. As students worked through activities, areas where instructions or descriptions were unclear or where assumptions of prior knowledge were made became the key indicators for instructional design improvements and necessary revisions to materials. A course evaluation submitted after completion of the final skills and written exams provided information regarding overall strengths and weaknesses of the instructional design. These end-of-term evaluations graded the course with high marks, which are believed to be due to the high level of communication throughout the term.


Using sound instructional design theory is important in any educational setting to insure that learning objectives are met. Although all steps in systematic instructional design are important, evaluation of the course’s design has yielded important results in building and maintaining the quality of this introductory technology skills course for students in this track of the baccalaureate nursing degree program. Reliance on a formal system for design during the redesign of this course yielded not only a fine product, but provided the instructor/designer with a sound theoretical base for further development.


Suzanne P. Stokes, Ph.D., is Associate Professr of Health & Human Services at Troy University in Troy, Alabama. With backdgrounds in nutrition and instructional technology, she teaches traditional and online classes for students in health sciences and nursing informatics. Her research interests include investigating factors that affect satisfaction and success of students engaged in learning that incorporates emerging technologies.

Krista P. Terry, Ph.D. is Director of the Multimedia Center and Assistant Professor in the College of Information Science and Technology at Radford univeristy, Radford, Virginia.


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Technology and Civic Empowerment: Toward Inclusion and Participatory Citizenship in the Elementary Social Studies Classroom

Technology and Civic Empowerment: Toward Inclusion and Participatory Citizenship in the Elementary Social Studies Classroom

Martin Horejsi
Beverly B. Ray
Idaho State University


The National Council for the Social Studies (2001) defines responsible citizenship as “the knowledge, skills, and attitudes [required if one is to] assume the ‘office of citizen’ in our democratic republic” (p. 319). “A critical purpose of the educational institution in a democratic society is to prepare its citizens for their role as participants in that society…[as]…full and equal citizens” (Lindsay & Justiz, 2001, p. 7). In fact, education for all students is a moral mandate in a civil society (Dewey, 1944; Parker, 2001). To ready students for civil life, America’s public schools are charged with the task of educating all students for responsible citizenship.

While opportunities exist throughout the curriculum, elementary social studies classrooms provide many opportunities to foster citizenship skills and dispositions (Parker, 2001; Maxim, 2003). Citizenship education includes helping all students contribute and participate in the classroom and in society. Students who are active participants in today’s classroom stand a better chance of “exercis[ing] their rights and carry[ing] out their civic responsibilities” (Silva & Mason, 2003, p. 366).

For elementary student with disabilities, technology offers one method of empowerment allowing them to become active participants in the classroom and in their future lives as citizens of a democratic society. Empowerment includes “self-reliance, independence, competition, and freedom of expression” (Willamson, Gonzales, & Avery, 2003, p.204); characteristics valued in a democratic society. Technologies that support meaningful social studies learning and that actively engage all learners are critical to assuring students’ opportunities for participation and empowerment in civic life.

Assistive Technology in the Elementary Social Studies Classroom

Assistive Technology (AT) helps students with physical, cognitive, learning, or speech disabilities perform tasks that would otherwise be difficult or impossible (Bodine, 2003; Bryant & Bryant, 2003; Horejsi, 2003). Numerous specialized AT devices exist, but their price –or availability– often prevents their use in elementary classrooms. However, reasonably priced technologies are available to help students with disabilities participate more fully in elementary social studies classrooms.

Three categories of AT devices are available for use in social studies classrooms: Input devices, output devices, and software devices. Input devices allow students to enter or manipulate information in a computer. These include the keyboard and mouse. Output devices, such as the picture on a monitor, the printed page, and sound allow the computer to communicate social studies content back to students. Software devices include utility-application programs, such as a word processor or concept mapping software; educational programs designed to teach specific topics; or operating system software that controls the computer, peripherals, or even aspects of other programs.

Input Devices

The Mouse. Two substitutes for the conventional mouse include the trackball and the micromouse. A trackball, which is akin to a giant upside-down mouse, allows student to spin a ball, then let go of the ball completely before clicking a button. The device separates each input movement so they are not unintentionally combined. Many trackballs can be operated with a foot or an arn instead of a hand. Another useful device in this category is the micromouse, which is roughly the size of an egg or even smaller. Originally designed for use with portable computers in limited space, this device works quite well in small hands. For younger kids, or those with certain motor skill limitations, moving or controlling a standard size mouse is akin to rolling a soda can around, hardly a precise activity. Most micromice are optical, meaning they use the changes in reflected light to detect mouse movement, thus eliminating the need for a space-restrictive mouse pad.

Touchscreens. A touchscreen is an excellent choice for students unable to opearate the mouse effectively whether for physical or cognitive reasons. A touchscreen is a glass or plastic window covering the computer monitor or display. Students move the cursor by sliding their fingers around on the screen, then tapping the screen once or twice to select something. Many times students with disabilities can only watch as a more able-bodied student operates the computer during such in-class activities. A touchscreen eliminates this inequity, however, by allowing all students an equal opportunity to control the computer during classroom activities. Since touchscreens can be operated with just one finger or using any pointing device, they are particularly useful in the classroom. For example, touchscreens are effective for drill-and-practice software, where the student is required to make an onscreen selection, and for navigating within a web browser (e.g., during an Internet scavenger hunt or an electronic field trip). Touchscreens are also an effective writing tool. Student can type using a large font and use the touchscreen to move the cursor, highlight a passage, or move blocks of text around on the page. In contrast to the mouse, touchscreens draw on the physical cut-and-paste skills commonly learned by children in kindergarten, rather than requiring conceptual mouse skills that are hardly comparable to other skills children have acquired by that age.

Switches. Another alternative to the conventional mouse is the switch. A switch is a simple on-off or yes/no button of some type that uses individual, color-coded buttons designed to separate mouse functions such as scan and select. Or, the student can divide the navigation tasks by pointing to a choice on a touchscreen to select it, then use a button or switch to click the choice.

Keyboards. Arguably unchanged since they became popular 120 years ago, the keyboard is often a burden for those with a disability. AT keyboard designs vary widely including those with larger but fewer keys, flexible rubber-covered keys, color-coded keys, and onscreen keyboards that work well with touchscreens. Each alternate keyboard has its advantages and drawbacks, but since keyboards will most likely be the main communication between a student and the computer, expanding the reach of the keyboard interface to include students with disabilities is time and money well spent.

One of the most versatile keyboards (and expensive at $400) is the IntelliKeys® keyboard (by IntelliTools). It is an unusually durable alternative, especially for children who benefit from a very limited set of choices. This keyboard is essentially a blank slate upon which an overlay is placed. The overlay can be a commercial product designed for a specific software program or it can be programmed, providing a finite set of letters, numbers, words, or pictures to represent the choices on the screen. Because the IntelliKeys® keyboard is completely customizable, the teacher can create overlays for the keyboard to match social studies content or for use with software programs that teach skills, such as map reading; sorting concepts into categories; and timelines, charts and graphs.

There are also social studies software programs available that include their own set of overlays matching what the student sees on the screen. For example, Animal Habitats (recommended for grades PreK -1) and Ready MadeÔ Lewis & Clark (grades 3 –5) could be used, allowing interaction with little more than mouse clicks or customized keyboard commands.

Adjustments to Existing Input Devices. Since a computer’s default settings are rarely appropriate for younger students or those with disabilities, it is worth exploring the variations of keyboard and mouse performance in the operating system before purchasing any new AT equipment. Something as simple as altering the way the computer interprets keystrokes can make an important difference for many students. For students with limited fine motor skills who may press more than one key at a time the “sticky key” feature is another effective alternative. Other keyboard preferences include audible and onscreen visual cues, and “slow keys”—where a key must be held down for an adjustable amount of time before being accepted by the computer. Check the control panel for the Accessibility Options folder on a Microsoft Windows computer or Apple’s Easy Access for help. Teachers can also explore additional options for each operating system online at Microsoft and Apple’s web sites. Many additional options not commonly bundled with the original operating systems are available for download at Microsoft and Apple’s web sites.

Adjusting the mouse settings to slow down the tracking speed or to decrease the double-click speed, can increase a student’s chance of success the first time they point and click on a target. Many mice come with software enabling even greater customization of the mouse’s capabilities. The Universal Access preferences of Apple’s OS X or Microsoft Window’s Accessibility Wizard (found in the Accessibility folder of the Accessories listed in the Programs menu) provide additional features to help students with motor-skill disabilities use a traditional keyboard as well as adaptations for visual impairments, hearing difficulties, and motor control.

Output Devices

Sight. Both the Windows and Macintosh operating systems have built-in controls to help students with special needs better see text and images on the monitor. For example, the accessibility feature in Windows called Magnifier opens a separate window showing a greatly enlarged view of the cursor’s location, which makes it easier to click on small targets. Other possible adjustments in the computer’s operating system include screen color choices, contrast, and screen refresh rate (flicker), which is important if the student is photosensitive or has epilepsy. Both Apple and Microsoft have websites detailing information about various accessibility features within their operating systems and also links to third party AT solutions.

Sound. Sound, one of the most basic output sources, is often overlooked or deliberately shut off in instructional settings muting the sound. This is useful because of the distraction computer beeps and robotic voices have on the rest of the class. Headphones can help, but some classroom reorganization is usually needed to reduce the distraction of a talking computer.

For more than a decade Apple computers have included software to read text aloud. Another more powerful option is IntelliTalk II® software (by IntelliTools) which offers an easy-to-use text-to-voice word processor that pronounces letters, words, sentences, and paragraphs. With a little practice, students with limited visual capabilities or cognitive disabilities can “write” using text, sounds, and pictures. The software can also read aloud imported text from almost any source including text copied and pasted from other sources such as the Internet. Social studies students with reading disabilities can copy text directly from the Internet or from multimedia applications, paste it into the talking word processor, and then listen to the computer read the text to them. Although not a perfect system, it does allow the student greater access to the text-filled world of the Internet, electronic encyclopedias, and other electronic texts.

Software Options

Adapt for Access. It is not always necessary to purchase new hardware to solve AT problems. Often, there is software available to adapt programs or existing hardware to the needs of the student. For example, ClickIt!® (by IntelliTools) can be used in conjunction with other software programs to drive the programs with button clicks or hotspots on the IntelliKeys keyboard.

In addition to offering AT hardware, Riverdeep makes several software programs addressing social studies content. Each program contains built-in “Universal Access,” allowing for seamlessly integration between the software and a touchscreen. The software can also be set to work with a single button click as when the choice is highlighted during the cycling through of all possible selections. Other innovative AT software solutions include CrossScanner, which allows the user to press a single button to move the mouse cursor vertically, then select from the possible choices along any horizontal line. SmartClick activates a mouse click when the cursor hovers over a location for a set amount of time. Finally, there is a product called SloMo that reduces the operational speed of any software application or game (all three softwares by R.J. Cooper).

Many More Options

As time goes on, once expensive AT devices will appear in more mainstream social studies classrooms. For example, a fairly inexpensive combination digital camera/software program, Riverdeep’s TouchFree Switch, already enables students to operate computers with no more than the blink of an eye or the wiggle of a toe.

A digital camera is another tool of empowerment in a child’s hands. Digital cameras can be used to take pictures of social studies materials or field trips. The pictures are then easily imported into word-processed documents, PowerPoint slides, or an overlay maker, creating custom-designed or personalized worksheets, presentations, or keyboard overlays. The simplicity of the digital camera also lets students photograph their own work, providing insights to the teacher as to what the student views as important. Digital cameras can be integrated into alternative assessment strategies in several ways including having students take pictures that demonstrate relationships between concepts or ideas.


Because disability-specific assistive technology is rarely found on store shelves or even in computer equipment catalogs, it often falls to the social studies teacher to seek out AT solutions for his or her students (see Appendix A for a list of assistive technology resources). In addition to these resources, many school districts have a technology coordinator who may be of help, and some states have an assistive technology demonstration center where you can try out different AT hardware and software before buying (see the RESNA Technical Assistance Project website located in Appendix A).

For many students with special needs, technology is an agent of empowerment and inclusion “offering students a different way of looking at themselves and their capabilities and providing teachers with a new set of tools to support growth and learning” (Male, 2003, p.1). The skills students develop while using assistive technologies such as those outlined in this article can translate into academic success, classroom participatory skills, and preparation for meaningful participation in civil life (Male, 2003). With the abundance of AT devices and software available, the elementary social studies classroom is truly accessible for all students.


Martin Horejsi is Assistant Professor of Science Education and Instructional Technology at Idaho State University. Dr. Horejsi teaches undergraduate and graduate courses in science methods, research and writing, statistics, instructional design, multimedia development, and technology integration. His research interests and special projects include probeware and real-time data collection in science education with special focus in the space sciences.

Beverly Ray is Assistant Professor of Teacher Education at Idaho State University, Pocatello, Idaho.


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Appendix A
Assistive Technology Information and Organizations


Alliance for Technology Access

The Association for Educational Communications and Technology

The Center for Applied Special Technologies

Closing the Gap

RESNA Technical Assistance Project (AT resources by state)

Virginia Assistive Technology System

Virtual Assistive Technology Center

Companies Offering Assistive Technologies

Apple Computers: People with Special Needs



Keyboard Alternatives and Vision Solutions



Microsoft Accessibility: Technology for Everyone


R.J. Cooper


The Magic Touch

Touch Screens, Inc.

Troll Touch


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