Journal of Distance Education/Revue de l'enseignement à distance (1997)

ISSN: 0830-0445

Information Technology and Telecommunications:
A Course on the World Wide Web

Rory McGreal
TeleEducation NB

Rory McGreal is presently the executive director of TeleEducation New Brunswick, a province-wide distributed distance learning and training network. He is also director of the New Brunswick TeleCampus. Previously, he was responsible for the expansion of Contact North (a distance education network in Northern Ontario) into the high schools of the region. Rory has worked in Canada as a teacher and teacher representative and abroad in the Seychelles, the Middle East, and Europe in various capacities as a teacher, ESL technological training coordinator, instructional designer, language and computer laboratory co-ordinator, and educational advisor. Rory is serving on the provincial Task Force on the Information Highway and on the federal Learning and Training Working Group for the Information Highway Advisory Committee. Presently he is on the Executive Board of the TeleLearning Research Network, Le centre internationale pour ledéveloppement de l’inforoute en français, and on the Education Committee for CANARIE Inc. (The Canadian Network for the Advancement of Research, Industry and Education). He is working on a PhD in Computer Technology at a distance. Rory and the TeleEducation team have created an online manual forinstructors entitled Learning on the Web >98 (<>, and with four other provinces created an online bilingual course called Information Technology that is being used across Canada and internationally.


The East-West project has been designed to provide Canadian adult learners and particularly learning professionals with the opportunity to complete a full course online through the World Wide Web (WWW). Four Canadian provinces (Alberta, British Columbia, New Brunswick, and Newfoundland) participated in examining different approaches to implementing accredited programs for adults that would be accessible in the workplace, at home, in schools, and in community centres using the WWW. The project is an example of interprovincial collaboration, resource sharing, and credit acceptance. The experience has also been used to develop the necessary design expertise and set common standards in Web-based course development.
The course is being used to promote new ways of learning, produce effective learning materials, and provide innovative approaches to teaching. Another advantage is that teachers and designers can keep materials current. Currency and relevancy can be maintained through the development of internationally recognized open standards for instructional design, pedagogy, courseware, visual interfaces, and cybernavigation. Teachers and designers can make use of authoring standards and templates that have been developed for this project. They are available in the appendix or at the TeleEducation NB web site:


Le projet Est-Ouest a été conçu dans le but de fournir aux apprenants Canadiens adultes, et plus particulièrement aux professionnels de l'apprentissage, l'occasion de compléter la totalité d'un cours en-ligne sur le W3. Quatre provinces canadiennes (l'Alberta, la Colombie-Britannique, le Nouveau Brunswick et Terre-Neuve) ont participé dans l'examen de différentes approches pour implanter des programmes accrédités pour adultes qui seraient accessibles à partir du lieu de travail, de la résidence, de l'école ainsi que des centres communautaires via le W3. Ce projet est un exemple de collaboration interprovinciale, de partage de ressources et de la reconnaissance de crédits. L'expérience a également servi à développer l'expertise de design nécessaire ainsi qu'à établir des normes communes dans le développement de cours offerts sur le Web.
Le cours est utilisé pour promouvoir de nouvelles façons d'apprendre, pour produire des matériels d'apprentissage efficaces ainsi que pour fournir des approches innovatrices en enseignement. Un autre avantage est que les enseignants et les concepteurs peuvent maintenir leurs matériels à jour. L'actualité ainsi que la pertinence peuvent être maintenues grâce au développement des normes ouvertes, internationalement reconnues pour le design pédagogique, la pédagogie, le matériel de cours, les interfaces visuelles de même que la cybernavigation. Les enseignants et les concepteurs peuvent faire usage des normes de présentation interactive ainsi que des gabarits qui ont été mis au point dans le cadre de ce projet. Ils sont disponibles en annexe ou encore au site W3 de la TéléÉducation NB:


In a special meeting sponsored by Industry Canada, a department of the Canadian government, education representatives from four provinces (Alberta, British Columbia, New Brunswick, and Newfoundland) examined different approaches to implementing accredited programs for adults. These programs were to be accessible in the workplace, at home, in schools, and in community centres using the World Wide Web (WWW). Representatives of the four provinces felt that the best approach to kick-start such an initiative would be to collaborate with each other on the development of one course in the new technologies that could be made ready very quickly with a demonstration prototype.

The principal goal of the project has been to provide Canadian adult learners and particularly learning professionals with the opportunity to complete a full course online through the World Wide Web. In addition, the project is expected to stimulate greater collaboration, resource sharing, and credit acceptance among the provinces. The course materials are also exportable as an example of Canadian learning technology.

The project has also been used to develop necessary design expertise and set common standards in Web-based course development. The participants were charged with discovering effective and efficient means of creating online courses and not simply converting previously designed text-based materials. The challenge was to take maximum advantage of the opportunities inherent in the hypermedia capabilities of the WWW while minimizing the limitations of the environment.

The WWW environment was chosen based on Lanfranco and Utsumi’s (1993) guiding principles. The Web supports multiple instructional and research uses and accommodates a range of user interfaces. On the Web, users are not confined to one particular use, nor are they limited to any one interface. “Flags” and “pointers” directing users to other relevant databases are available through hyperlinks. Phillips (1993, p. 14) recommended the development of a “gateway,” which “provides for data transfer between different physical networks and that may provide translations services between varying physical or logical protocols.” The WWW has become this universal “gateway.”

The prototype course chosen was a bilingual, modularized, interactive, multimedia, outcome-based adult education course, Introduction to Information Technology & Telecommunications, accessible across Canada and internationally through the World Wide Web. It is available for viewing at the TeleEducation NB web site:>. Each module includes clearly demonstrable and measurable learning outcomes. These outcomes are described up front so that students can relate the learning experiences to the outcomes. Assessment of students is based on what the students know and can demonstrate that they know.


Each of the four participating provinces committed to designing one of the 30-hour modules, and an additional French language unit was developed by New Brunswick for a total of five. Students can take each module individually, or they can choose any four of the five modules as the equivalent of a full 120-hour course. All modules are available in Canada’s two official languages, English and French. In addition, the modules and course are recognized for accreditation purposes in each of the four participating provinces.

The module Web Publishing consists of an introduction to the Internet and the World Wide Web. Students learn the basics of navigation on the WWW and some simple research techniques using e-mail, FTP (File Transfer Protocol), and Telnet. They also learn how to create and publish a Web site on the Internet. This module was created by the Open Learning Agency in collaboration with the Ministry of Education of British Columbia. The module Communications Technology explores the issues that are being raised by the rapid increase in the use of electronic telecommunications.

Using a variety of electronic communications environments, students will identify the strengths and weaknesses of each and demonstrate their appropriate use, effectively, ethically, and legally. This module has been created by the Alberta Distance Learning Center in collaboration with the Alberta Ministry of Education. An Edmonton company, Blackstone Multimedia, adapted the material for the Web.

The module Telecommunication Networks provides an introduction to the basic principles of how physical networks operate. Students will explore how both analogue and digital telephone systems work. Other topics include digital numbering, LANs, WANs, wireless, and future developments. TeleEducation NB and the Department of Advanced Education and Labour have collaborated with their local telephone company, NBTel, in the development of this module. They contracted two New Brunswick companies: Intratrainment and CyberDesign.

The module Computer Graphics introduces students to the basics of creating effective graphics and animations on screen. It focuses on graphics that will be used in an online environment and pays particular attention to screen design. It also explains the different formats and the compression standards of the images used. This module has been created by the Ministry of Education and StemNet in Newfoundland.

The module Computer Applications exposes students to the Microsoft Office suite of applications. This suite includes Word, Excel, and Access. Students are provided with a basic introduction to each of these three applications. It was developed by NBCC Bathurst and adapted for the Web by the multimedia learning centre at le Centre universitaire Louis Maillet in Edmundston and by CyberDesign. TeleEducation NB was responsible for the project management.

Each of the modules is truly modular in that it can be used as a stand-alone unit. For example, the module Telecommunication Networks is being used independently by NBTel for training its staff. Users can choose the modules that meet their needs. Each module is a 30-hour autonomous course, not dependent on any of the others.

HTML (Hypertext Markup Language), the nonproprietary scripting language for the WWW, is being used in the development of all modules in order to achieve cross-platform compatibility. All modules are accessible using any of the major computer platforms (Windows 3.1, Windows95, MAC OS, Unix, JAVA, OS2). The course is now available to any user who has access to the Internet using a standard graphically enabled browser. Netscape 2.0 was originally chosen as the base development platform. This base was changed to Netscape 3.0 in the fall of 1996. HTML allows developers to publish and present their materials in a standard format. This format can vary somewhat in different environments, but the differences are not great enough to affect the display seriously.

Initially, the development team chose to use the WEST web-based learning environment that was developed at University College, Dublin, Ireland (now called TOPCLASS). They also agreed to provide a “clean” HTML implementation that would not be dependent on WEST or any other proprietary environment. WEST allows HTML content to be plugged into their educational environment, which also supports a primitive computer-conferencing tool, e-mail administration, and authoring tools. As the developers progressed through their modules, they became frustrated with the fixed structure and peculiarities of WEST that were difficult to adapt or alter. For example, importing files was problematic because HTML pages had to be extracted individually in order to port them to and from the WEST environment, the e-mail time-out feature was awkward, the exam reply feature was glitchy, editing could not be done easily, and too many features were fixed and unchangeable. The developing teams decided to rely on the “clean” HTML implementation only and not attempt the WEST version. The Web Graphics module produced by the British Columbia team was the only module developed especially for WEST, but even they prefer their “clean” non-WEST version.

The development team agreed to use the same basic structure and terminology. For example, the different levels were divided into Course, Module, Section, and Lesson. It was agreed that Sections should be divided into many shorter lessons rather than a few that are very large. This file system was used to organize the levels of the directories in the database structure. The individual file names were chosen to reflect the numbering strategies of the development team. Index files at each level contain the table of contents and link to the files in the next lower level.

At the Course (or topmost) level, a common series of pages has been developed to give general information about the course and the project, linking to each of the five modules. In addition, there are pages for Resources, Assessment/Evaluation, Goals/Outcomes, and Help. These pages, which contain the relevant local files using standard names, are incorporated at the module, section, and lesson levels of each module. Furthermore, each level in the module contains links to the module Table of Contents and a Glossary. These files are accessible from any page using a standard toolbar. Each file is available as a discreet unit at the level of the lesson, section, or module.

A JavaScript program that opens a smaller subpage within the main module allows students to visit external sites while remaining within the course. It helps to prevent the common phenomenon of students becoming lost in cyberspace when they are directed to external sites from hotlinks within a lesson. They surf from the original external site to yet other sites and eventually cannot find their way back to the lesson where they started. Modules are divided into Sections that include an introduction and an outline that leads into the section activities. Activities are based on short readings or assignments rather than large chunks of text. There are opportunities within each lesson and section for student self-assessment. Teachers can intervene and use online assessment for a formative purpose. In addition, there are tests available for summative evaluations by the teacher at the end of some sections. Enrichment activities and extra help is provided through links to side pages or external sites. Hot links within the context of each lesson are available for these purposes.

This Information Technology and Telecommunications demonstration course can be used in upgrading the skills of adult learners in the workplace, in our schools, and in community centres while they are concurrently being retrained in the new technologies. It is an example of the effective use of the Information Highway for learning in an interactive and individualized environment. At the same time, because it is on the World Wide Web, the course is available to students in classrooms or for distance learning through connections at school or at home, to the housebound, to the disabled in institutions, and also for export to the North American and overseas marketplace.

Significantly, the course responds to the recommendation of the Education Sub-Committee of Canada’s Information Highway Advisory Council for making available a demonstration course for teacher training. (2) That provinces and territories be encouraged, in partnership with the private sector, to develop Canada-wide full-credit courses that would be available to all Canadians. The first course could be an introduction to the use of information technologies. (Information Highway Advisory Council, 1995, p. 30)

This WWW course can be used for teacher training since teachers can follow it from school or home computers at their convenience. In addition, through the design process, we have initiated the development of teams of Canadian teachers, content specialists, instructional designers, software developers, and educational technologists. They are now beginning to understand how to create and maintain online multimedia content materials. They are comfortable and knowledgeable about working in online learning environments. This expertise has been developed in both English and French. Within the course modules, examples of some of the more recent online learning tools are demonstrated. As prototypes, the distinct modules explore the possibilities of different media and provide guidance for the development of other online courses (both what to do and what not to do). Examples of the interactive use of JavaScript, Macromedia’s Shockwave, Apple Quicktime video clips, animated .gif and Mpeg images, and form tests are integrated into different modules. Subject trails in each module that lead to other relevant sites demonstrate the strength of the WWW as well as show how others approach the material being learned.

Lessons Learned


The next step will be to offer a full program in new technologies on the WWW accessible from all corners of our country and around the world. This program could include more in-depth modules following the themes of the original lessons in web authoring, telecommunications, computer graphics, and applications, and lead to a special certificate of competency in the new media and online communications.

This project has been financed by the participating organizations and their respective ministries of Education in partnership with Industry Canada and the Office of Learning Technologies (Human Resource Development Canada), which provided funding for the full project. The participating institutions and provincial departments of Education have contributed an equal amount.

The course is being used to promote new ways of learning, produce effective learning materials, and provide innovative approaches to teaching. Through the collaborative sharing of resources and partnerships among different provinces, the federal government, and the private sector, a new model is being developed for the production of courses using multimedia online materials. The richness of the WWW environment allows users to adopt advanced techniques quickly, adapt, and even make use of externally developed materials at little cost. Another advantage is the ability of teacher and designers to keep materials current.

Currency and relevancy can be maintained even more simply if we can use this project to provide leadership in supporting the development of internationally recognized open standards. They include not only standards for the hardware and basic software but also, and more importantly, for instructional design, pedagogy, courseware, visual interfaces, and cybernavigation. Teachers and designers would also be able to make use of authoring standards and templates that have been developed for this project. They are available in the appendix or online at>.

In the nineteenth century, Edward Bellamy noted our propensity to go forward into the future looking backwards. We are perhaps always doomed to approach new media by porting old paradigms to new situations. Existing WWW courses are generally maintaining this convention. This collaborative cross-Canada course development project represents an experiment in finding new ways to use the Web for promoting learning.


East-West Project

World Wide Web Course Developer’s

Standards Guide


This World Wide Web Developer’s Guide is based on the protocols developed in the East-West project, a collaborative venture of four Canadian provinces (Alberta, British Columbia, New Brunswick and Newfoundland) to put on line a full course: Information Technology. This course is available at>. The guide has been further developed by TeleEducation NB and the Distributed Learning Centre of the New Brunswick Community College Miramichi.

The standards were originally developed by a working group led by Prescott Klassen of the Open Learning Agency; Maureen Stanley of the Alberta Distance Learning Centre; Don Whitty of the New Brunswick Community College, Miramichi; Roger Doucet, TeleEducation NB; Rory McGreal, TeleEducation NB; and Leon Cooper of the Ministry of Education of Newfoundland. They were further developed for the TeleCampus by Michaell Elliott, Normand Brunel, and others.

The NBCC Miramichi production co-ordinator responsible for the additional work is Scott Douglas. This is part of the development of procedures for the NB TeleCampus and the Distributed Learning Centre (DLC) of NBCC Miramichi. The guide has been originally drafted, compiled, and developed by Judy Breau and Joan Kane (Project Leaders for the DLC) and by Paul Muncaster (TeleEducation NB).

Participating Organizations

STEMNet, Newfoundland

TeleEducation NB

The New Brunswick Distance Education Network Inc.

The Open Learning Agency, British Columbia

Canadian Centre for the Development of Instructional Computing, Alberta

The Atlantic Provinces Education Foundation

The Western Protocol

The Consortium on Provinces/Territories

East-West Project Leaders

Rory McGreal, TeleEducation NB (Project Manager)

Byron James, Department of Education, NB

Roger Doucet, TeleEducation NB

Garry Popovich, Alberta Distance Learning Center, AB

Maureen Stanley, Alberta Distance Learning Center, AB

David Porter, Open Learning Agency, BC

John Manly, Department of Education, BC

Prescott Klassen, OLA, BC

Robert Scales, OLA, BC

Harvey Weir, STEMNet, NF

Wilbert Boone, Ministry of Education, NF

Leon Cooper, Ministry of Education, NF

Don Whitty, NBCC Miramichi

Arnold MacPherson, Department of Education, NB

For Additional Information or Updates to the Guide Contact:

Rory McGreal

email: <>

telephone (506) 444-4230.

(c)1997 New Brunswick Distance Education Inc.

Purpose of the Guide

This guide has been created to provide World Wide Web course developers with a set of common standards and guidelines for publishing courses on line. Some of the standards make eminent sense to everyone, others have been agreed to just to ensure that we all develop to a common standard. This makes courses more interchangeable and usable among those who agree to develop to the accepted standards. Purpose of the Web Pages The Web page is the common element of all courses developed. It will link all the elements of the course and direct the learner to specific media (Web-based, computer-based, paper-based, audio and/or video materials) or activities. The design model is learning-centred. All courses are asynchronous with the Web environment facilitating the interaction between:

The learners will interact through:

If desired, interaction can also be promoted through live classes or teleconferences, but the courses should stand alone online in an asynchronous environment and not be dependent on live interactions with the teacher or other students.


Developers should have access to designated areas of the server that houses the course being developed with the following restrictions:

Ethical Use of Web Resources

Course Development Procedures

Course development projects should be led by a Project Manager. The Project Manager is responsible for the coordination and organization of the job and for the ultimate completion of the project. Contact with people outside of the course development team is the responsibility of the Project Manager.

The Project Leader will:

Organizational Structure of Content

Structure of the Course Content

Courses developed according to East-West standards follow a learning-centred model. The course will have four levels. The structure is outlined below. This model will provide consistency for the delivery of these courses via the Web.

Structure Template Course Introduction (Introduction, Overview, Goal, and Objectives) Module #: Title (Overview and Objectives) Section #: Title (Overview and Objectives) Lesson #: (Objectives) At each level, there must be a content-related title with the label. For example: Module 1: Doing Presentations; Section 4: Telecommunications; Lesson 2: Networks

More lessons within a section are preferable to long lessons. Short pages of no more than one or two screens are preferable, but longer pages are preferred if the alternative is to split up a topic. The East-West Information Technology course can be used as an example. URL: <>

Course and Module Organizational Pages

Each course should have the following pages:

Home Page (bilingual for the Course level page) with links to an English or French

Welcome Page or an

Index Page (index.html) with links to



Course Sections and Lessons





Using hypertext, links can be duplicated where needed. For example, a link to the glossary and introduction could be provided from the student and instructor pages.

Home Page (Bilingual) (Home.Html)

The bilingual main home page should contain a logo and links to the English and French versions of the course.

Course or Module Index (Index.Html)

This is the link to the main body of the course or module. Here are links to the different modules or sections of the course, which in turn lead to the lessons.

Help (Or Navigational Tools) (Help.Html)

Here you describe the navigational tools used in the course, including the meaning of the buttons and special features. A brief explanation of how to bookmark pages could also be added. Introduction (intro.html)

This page should provide a brief description of the goals of the course and some background.

Credits (Credit.Html)

This page should give credit to the people and institutions that have supported the development of the course.

Resources (Resources.Html)

This page should link to the following resource pages:


This page should provide the following links:

Assessment Information

Here the student is presented with information on how he or she is to be evaluated. What do they have to do to complete the course or module requirements? (assess.html)

Instructor Information

Include a form for e-mailing the instructor or facilitators with other useful contact information. (instinf.html)

Hardware and Software

Notes for Implementors

Include any comments advice that will help those who are implementing the course or module. (implement.html)


List and define all new words and technical jargon. The definitions to be included should be as brief as possible while still maintaining clarity and the necessary detail. Consistency in wording should be preserved, with all of the definitions either in complete sentences or consistent sentence fragments. An acronym list should also be provided if needed.

Design and Technical Specifications for the Developer Html Standards

Bilingual Design

File Size

Maximum Maximum Type Size Dimensions Background tiles 15K Variable Icons and navigational buttons 15K 100 x 100 pixels Context-based images 30K 500 x 500 pixels Banners and logos 50K 500 x 300 pixels Animation (not Java/Shockwave) 75K 500 x 500 pixels Detailed images, scans 100K 500 x 500 pixels File Formats

Headings and Titles







Internet Publishing, Certificate 2, Unit 3, Lesson 2

Author: Jane Smith Email:

Created: June 6, 1997

Edited: June 8, 1997

Editor: John Doe Email:


Meta Tags

Information contained in quotation marks is the variable <META name=resource-type content=“document”>

<META name=distribution content=“LOCAL”>

<META name=description content=“Description of Document”>

<META name=copyright content=“Owner of Copyright of Document Content/ Design”>

<META name=keywords content=“Keywords to facilitate Search Engine Indexing”>

<META HTTP-EQUIV=Reply-To content=“address of author/webmaster”>

Page Signature


File Structure and Naming Conventions

COURSE index.html

---------- MODULE2 index.html

---------- SECTION2 index.html

---------- LESSON3 index.html



Address: http://course/module2/section2/lesson3/two.html

Directory Contents coursename All the files in the course

module# All the files in a specific module

section# All the files in a specific section

lesson# All the files in a specific lesson

sub Glossary, acronyms, tasks, resource, help

test For tests and exams

master Final assignments and exams (if protection is necessary)

images For graphics and animations

movies For Quicktime and other movie formats

Shockwave For Shockwave Applications

Filename Contents

assess.html Page with explanation of how students will be assessed

credits.html Page for crediting contributors

glossary.html Glossary

help.html Help pages

home.html Home page for the course and module (if not the index)

index.html Index page. This is essential for all directories

instinf.html Instructor information page and email link

instruct.html Instructor’s Guide page

intro.html Introduction Page

objectives.html Objectives for the level of the course


outlines.html An outline for the level of the course

reference.html List of references used in the course, module, or section

require.html List of hardware and software requirements

resources.html Resource page

graphicname.gif Graphics files in .gif format

graphicname.jpg Graphic files in JPEG format Audio file in .au format Quicktime movies should be in a Movie directory Other formats

page2.html A normal content page in each lesson directory

page2a.html An inserted page between page 2 and 3

Page Specifications

Graphic Specifications

Typographic Specifications


The following buttons should be accessible from every page:

Correspondence To:

Rory McGreal
TeleEducation New Brunswick
Box 6000, 500 Beaverbrook Ct.
Fredericton, NB, CANADA E3B 5H1
Tel. (506) 444-4230
Fax (506) 444-4232


Lanfranco, J., & Utsumi, T. (1993, June). Objects, agents and events in a global learning environment. Glosas News, III(2).

Information Highway Advisory Council. (1995, December). Making it happen : Final report of the learning and training working group. Ottawa: Information Highway Advisory Council. Available Internet:

Phillips, G. (1993). Open systems and your library. Evanston, IL: NOTIS Systems.

CADE prefers APA style guides.