Effective Communication Ben Shneiderman (1992) cautions all instructional designers to begin with an understanding of their intended users, and to recognize them as in- dividuals whose outlook is different from the designer’s own. Horton (1994) states the golden rule for designers of instructional vi- suals: “communicate unto others as they would communicate unto them- selves” (p. 32). In other words, if you want the learner to construct an idea which is similar to yours, then use an image for your presentation which will trigger a similar idea in the learner’s mind, in the context of the learn- ing environment and the learner’s prior experiences. Needless to say, no two learners will form the same idea, nor is it likely that their idea will be the same as that of the designer. How can this problem be solved? The key to good instructional design lies in the image presented. To quote Marshall McLuhan, “the medium is the message.” Horton (1994) notes that it is up to the designer to ! use advance organizers to create an appropriate context for instruction, and ! select effective images, using appropriate objects with relevant at- tributes, that will convey the same idea to the user as they did to the designer. METHODS AND STRATEGIES Guided Practice The more familiar teachers are with the instructional design and deliv- ery process, the more effective their presentations will be. On a practical note, they need training in instructional message design, strategies for de-
347 Issues in Distance Learning livering instruction on-camera, methods of diversifying types of presenta- tion, selecting various mixes of student-teacher activities and interactions, choosing situations and examples which are relevant to their students, and assessing the level of learning by distant students. They also need plenty of guided, hands-on practice developing and delivering courseware using au- dio, full-motion video, graphics, and text, in front of a live audience—yet still in a nonthreatening situation. Strategies such as using fewer overheads and more moving video, in- terspersing “talking heads” with videos of sites, using hands-on experi- ments, incorporating text and graphic art, and other guidelines for effective video production are also valuable (see Willis, 1993, for a synopsis of dis- tance education strategies). Site facilitators, too, benefit from training programs which emphasize hands-on practice with the equipment they are expected to use. Sherry and Morse (1994) found that those who had participated in structured training programs felt comfortable using the equipment, were able to engage their students in the learning process, and had mastered classroom management in a high-tech classroom.