Secker, J. (2004), "Developing Web‐based Instruction: Planning, Designing, Managing and Evaluating for Results", Program: electronic library and information systems, Vol. 38 No. 3, pp. 219-220. https://doi.org/10.1108/00330330410547331
Emerald Group Publishing Limited
Copyright © 2004, Emerald Group Publishing Limited
Initially I found the title of this book slightly misleading, given that it contained no reference to libraries. However, the major clue is that it is published by Facet, and in fact the back of the book describes it as “essential reading for all those involved in delivering online learning in libraries, whether in a technical, design, educational or support role”. It claims to “guide you through all the stages needed to create successful Web‐based instruction in your library”. As a librarian about to embark on a Web‐based information literacy course, it couldn't have landed on my desk at a better time, and I was able to put it to the test!
The book has three sections, each with an overview and contributions from four or five authors: examining, planning and management; evaluation and assessment; and design and development. Originally published in the United States, the bias is evident from the outset, with terminology such as “learning management software” for “virtual learning environment”, and “educational technology” in place of “learning technology”. The references concentrate entirely on US‐based examples, despite the considerable body of work in the UK to develop online tutorials, for example the Resource Discovery Network Virtual Training Suite (www.vts.rdn.ac.uk) and the Information Skills Project (http://inhale.hud.ac.uk/cgi‐bin/informs.pl). This US focus makes the value of the book to the UK market less obvious. Similarly, the e‐learning and pedagogy chapters are overwhelmingly US‐biased, with just one chapter referring to Laurillard's (2001) conversational framework.
The content of the book is comprehensive, with useful advice and practical examples that librarians elsewhere can learn from. The book's structure is, though, interesting and shaped largely by the editor's belief that evaluation and assessment methods should be considered early in any research project. To emphasise this point, the chapters on this topic are placed before the design and development section. While I understand the rationale for doing this, it does mean the final two chapters on site design and putting content online seem to appear somewhat late in the book. These two chapters give by far the largest amount of practical and useful advice and are illustrated with numerous screen shots. However, this information may be for many readers the real core of the book. Somewhat unusually, the book does not end with any form of conclusion but provides appendices containing advice about writing project proposals and further reading.
The chapters do vary in terms of the number of practical examples they contain and the amount of references. I particularly liked Chapter Two on “Teams and Partners”, which included lots of valuable advice for all types of team work situations. Chapter Six on “Statistics and Metrics” stood out as being both useful and well written, providing a balanced overview of how statistics, such as server logs, should and should not be used. Chapter Seven on focus groups is also helpful for anyone new to this research method, although I feel their value is often overstated and I would have liked to see other qualitative methods such as interviews discussed as well.
Overall, the book has pulled together a lot of valuable experience which others can learn from. It is a shame that some references to projects in the UK and Australia were not incorporated. But as librarians are increasingly expected to venture into the realm of Web‐based instruction, this book is well worth dipping into for guidance.
Laurillard, D. (2001), Rethinking University Teaching: A Framework for the Effective Use of Educational Technology, Routledge, London.