The Online Top-Down Modeling Model

By Li, Sha; Liu, Daonian | Quarterly Review of Distance Education, Winter 2005 | Go to article overview

The Online Top-Down Modeling Model

Li, Sha, Liu, Daonian, Quarterly Review of Distance Education

The Internet has become a major resource for teaching and learning. Educators are innovating methods and strategies to integrate Internet technology effectively into instruction to meet their various needs. Providing learning models and facilitations online for a graduate computer literacy class was a new innovation, and generated interesting issues and insights. Students were impacted by the benefits and effectiveness of this new model. This article uses qualitative action research to explore a new model, or a new approach, to integrating Internet technology into instruction: the Online Top-Down Modeling Model (OTMM). This model combined external online instructional resources and internal online instructional resources to set up models and provide learning resources for classroom instruction. This research yielded overall positive responses from the participants about learning under the OTMM. The students' attitudes toward integrating Internet resources positively changed, and their confidence in integrating Internet technology into instruction increased. Ultimately, the class itself became a model for the class participants in how to effectively integrate Internet technology for instruction.


With the development of technology integration in school settings, the quality of technology used for instruction has become a major issue to educators who are making efforts to innovate education. Bitter and Pierson (2002) assert that there are five stages of integrating technology into education: the entry stage, the adoption stage, the adaptation stage, the appropriation stage, and the invention stage. The final stage, the invention stage, is considered the highest level of integration, where teachers creatively invent their technology methods that are to be effective for learning. The technologyassisted environment expands the implication of learning practices and theories, and offers educators a large arena for imaging, planning, and creating a variety of ways to enhance the quality of learning.

From the social learning perspective, observational learning plays an important role in achieving successful learning outcomes (Bandura, 1977, 1986). To facilitate observational learning, observable models and behaviors must be provided. When the observer's (the learner's) curiosity and interest are aroused, he or she will be engaged in imitating the model's behavior if the model possesses characteristics or traits-things such as talent, intelligence, power, personal values, good looks, or popularity-that the observer finds attractive or desirable (Anderson, 2002b). However, observational learning is not simply a thoughtless imitating behavior. It involves higher-order thinking as the learning process develops, and it rewards the learner when the creativity and inventions are engendered on the learner's side (Tucker-Ladd, n.d.). It depends on how a teacher harnesses this magic to make a difference.

The Internet has been considered an effective tool for delivering instruction. The quality of online interaction with the learning resource is vital to successful teaching and learning as researchers have indicated in terms of learning in distance education classes (Milton, 1998; Muirhead, 1999; Oblinger & Rush, 1997). Learner-content interaction has been frequently discussed (Moore, 1989), but teachercontent interaction has received less attention. To take advantage of the Internet, educators are trying to put learning and instructional resources online to facilitate education. For instance, a Web portfolio is a way of putting students' e-portfolios (i.e., papers, discussions, projects, etc.) online to show what students have learned (Kimball, 2003). Developing a curriculum web enables the teacher to put his/ her instructional materials online and access them anytime they are needed (Cunningham & Billingsley, 2003). Many educational Web sites discuss how to use the Internet to deliver information for distance instruction, but few of them mention how to take advantage of the Internet to create a teacher-prepared resourcerich Web site for traditional classroom instruction. …

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