Distance Education - An International Journal.
Volume 19, Number 1, 1998 p. 172-174.


Web-Based Instruction B.H.Khan (ed.) Educational Technology Publications, Inc., Englewood Cliffs, New Jersey 07632

1996 Paperback Copy: pp. I-xvi; 1 463

Diane M. Gayeski (a Contributing Editor of Educational Technology) recently remarked that every decade had seen at least one new communications or computer-based technology that was predicted to radically transform education and training and society in general. Moreover, as we now find ourselves heading towards the end of the twentieth century, the Internet and the World wide Web is the technology du jour-the the technology which promises to revolutionise learning and upon which billions of dollars are being spent. She claims that in the year 2000 we may look back and find that this technology was a passing fancy, an outdated idea and a waste of money. She then goes on to discuss how we can predict which technologies will persist and which will never really make it (Gayeski, 1997).

These are strong claims that many of us will find somewhat outrageous. On closer examination however, we find that Gayeski's claims are based on decades f insufficient and poor understanding among educators of the social, cultural and business factors that form the context of any educational technology innovation. Many of us will agree that this latter claim is probably true and I am sure that Badrul Khan and his collaborators on their 1997 book Web-Based Instruction would be the first ones to acknowledge that this is so. For that is also one of the main messages of their book Web-Based Instruction.

Web-Based Instruction is a comprehensive volume on the subject comprising 59 chapters organized into five sections with contributions from leading practitioners in the field. Section 1 is an introduction to web-based instruction. For the novice this introductory section provides an excellent overview of the WWW, how and why it grew into what it is today, and also how it is influencing teaching and learning practices. Section 2 takes an in-depth look at the influences of the Internet and the WWW on total learning environments, not just singular aspects of it. Several contributions in this section explore the changing role of the teacher in web-based teaching and learning environments. This change has to do with the teacher 'dethroning' himself/herself from the role of disseminating information to that of facilitating searching, assessing and making meanings from information discovered from a range of sources (see pages 43, 45). This shift in the roles and functions of teachers and teaching is described by one of the contributors in the section as a move from an 'instructive' to a 'constructive' approach to teaching and learning. This is an important message, for in it is not simply a recognition of the suitability or otherwise of a perspective of learning for a particular technology, but also a need to consider the two together in designing and developing any teaching and learning environment.

Section 3 is a comprehensive and excellent collection of contributions from notable authors on designing web-based teaching and learning environments. A serious consideration of the theoretical foundations of the design of any learning and teaching environment is what sets this volume apart from the many we find these days practically littering the sections on the Internet and the WWW in most all of our bookshops (see especially chapters 15,19). The contributions in this section deal with why it is important for anyone contemplating use of the WWW to first consider the nature of the content and skill that is to be learned and the nature of the teaching and learning transaction. Considering how the Internet and the WWW can be utilized to achieve those learning outcomes is the next logical step (see especially chapters, 20, 22, 24, and 27).

Given this orientation to web-based teaching and learning, Section 4 is appropriately devoted to development and delivery issues. Here contributions focus on the technicalities and the logistics of using the Internet and the WWW for teaching and learning. Issues raised include security, communication, connectivity and troubleshooting (see chapter 43). The place and importance of formative evaluation in the development and delivery cycle are recognized including a thorough discussion of how to go about doing this (see chapters 46/47 and especially pages 357, 362 and 364).

In section 5 we are offered several case studies of the use of the Internet and the WWW for teaching and learning. Read about how it all really works.

This is a timely volume on the subject. It is timely not only because there is currently so much interest in the Internet and the World Wide Web for teaching and learning purposes but also because there is so much misinformation about its strengths and limitations in this regard. Unlike many other volumes on the subject of web-based instruction, a sure strength of this volume is that it brings theories and perspectives on learning to bear upon the design of web-based teaching and learning environments.

The paperback copy is priced at USD 59.95 and the hardcover copy at USD 89.95. Copies are available from Educational Technology Publications, 700 Palisade Avenue, Englewood Cliffs, NJ, 07632. It available also from amazon.com the electronic bookstore. Credit card orders may be placed via telephone (1-800-952-BOOK), toll-free in the USA and Canada. Orders may be also faxed worldwide to: 201-871-4009.


Gayeski, D. M. 1997, Predicting the success of new media for organizational learning: How can we avoid costly mistakes? Educational Technology, vol. XXXVII, no. 6, pp. 5-13.

The University of Melbourne,
Parkville, Victoria, 3052, Australia

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