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Overview of Web-based Learning

Web-based classes are online courses that allow you to participate in a learning environment from your home, office or any site that has a computer with the appropriate browser and internet access.  These courses differ from traditional online courses (correspondence courses) in that they require ongoing participation and interaction with the instructor and other students in the class. 

This active participation is achieved in many different ways depending on the course.  In general these courses require readings from a textbook, journal articles, or visits to websites.  Online discussions (Discussion Board) with the instructor and students assist in the interpretation, synthesis, and analysis of the readings, while the written assignments are generally structured to assist in applying the information to one's practice. 

In addition, some web-based courses offer online chats, video clips, lecture handouts with voice overlay by the instructor, and video-streaming.  Emphasis is placed on developing a conceptual framework supported by the evidence in the literature. 

In general, participation in a web-based course entails approximately 9 hours of course work per week.  This includes time spent logging onto the content on a daily basis during the work week, participation in discussions, written assignments and assigned readings.  Time spent writing papers and/or studying and taking exams are included in this estimate. 

The mode of instruction in web-based courses is directed study. Directed study is an active learning method that emphasizes what the learner does, as opposed to traditional classroom learning that stresses what information the professor teaches to the students.

In web-based courses, you learn and apply the content by completing structured assignments and activities. The instructor's role is to (1) design the assignments and activities to ensure active learning, (2) provide guidance and feedback to help the student successfully complete the assignments, and (3) promote collaboration among the students by participating in discussions. The success of these courses very much depends on the quality and frequency of the students’ contributions.

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