Academic journal article Journal of Information Technology Education

Modelling Web-Based Instructional Systems

Academic journal article Journal of Information Technology Education

Modelling Web-Based Instructional Systems

Article excerpt


Instructional systems aim to support and partially automate the instructional process on a subject field, which might concern, for example, a course, a seminar or even a series of lectures (Gagne et al., 1984). From a different perspective, these systems intend to satisfy certain instructional needs for a subject domain, which have surfaced mainly because of the advances in research and technology, the emergence of the information society and the globalisation of markets (Hodgson, 1997).

Nowadays, instructional systems make extensive use of network technologies, especially the Internet and the World Wide Web, because of their potential, in advancing interactivity between learners and tutors, in offering flexibility concerning the way of learning, and in providing easy, one-stop maintenance and reusability of resources (McCormack & Jones, 1997, Lowe & Hall 1999). This trend entails the construction of complex instructional systems, i.e. the Web-based Instructional Systems (WbIS), that incorporate a variety of organisational, administrative, instructional, and technological components (Moore & Kearsley, 1996, Carlson, 1998). The pursuance of quality in such complex systems is of paramount importance, although building high quality WbIS within specific time and fund limits is definitely quite a challenging task. There is no standard process to achieve this goal but the most promising approach seems to be the adoption, on behalf of the instructional designers, of a design and development model so as to reap several benefits (Tennyson & Breuer, 1997), such as:

* To mitigate risks and improve the possibility of concluding the development process on schedule and within the estimated budget.

* To assure that the quality of the development process per se and the quality of the end product is guaranteed.

* To standardise the construction of new systems and consequently maintain and upgrade them more easily than ad hoc developments.

* To put emphasis on reusing parts of previously developed compliant systems, on a design or implementation level, thus reducing the development time and costs.

This paper describes a way of modelling web-based instructional systems and portrays the realization of this model into practice by showing a complete case study. The underlying idea of modelling web-based instructional systems is an explicit division of the instructional system under development into specific subsystems. Each one of these subsystems elucidates on how: a) the human agents (learners, teachers, tutors, administrators), b) the web-based learning resources, c) the other learning resources (e.g. material in printed or other analogue format), and d) the technological infrastructure, should accordingly participate in the instructional process. It is emphasized that the proposed model focuses on WbISs from an Information Technology perspective and does not represent current theories of learning.

This work accords with the philosophy of the IEEE Learning Technology Standards Committee (, the CEN/ISSS Learning Technology Workshop (, the PROMETEUS Special Interest Group on the Design of Electronic Learning Environments ( Mission.html), and the work on Educational Modelling Language (EML) (

All these are major players in the development of technical standards, recommended practices, tools, and design methods that facilitate the development, deployment, maintenance and interoperation of computer implementations of education and training components and systems.

The structure of this paper is as follows: Section 2 will analyse the model and its philosophy while section 3 will show the realization of the model in practice. Several web-based systems have been developed with the aid of the proposed model, in an effort to enrich/enhance the traditional classroom-based teaching process. …

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