Development Process Overview


Goal: Examine topics related to production processes used to develop online learning materials.

After you know who you are teaching, what you are teaching, how you will know that you taught them, and have ironed out a system for communicating about your work, it is time to start developing the actual resources that your learners will use. It is time to assemble or structure the learning environment and test it all to make sure that it works.

In today’s eLearning environment you will likely be creating stand-alone learning objects and using a Learning Management System (LMS) or Course Management System (CMS) to structure the way your learners see and use those learning objects. In some cases you will use features of the LMS/CMS to create the learning objects, quizzes or other resources. – Brian Newberry

1. Describe an “Absorb” type activity for one of the objectives in your course plan.

Horton (2012, p.67) defines Absorb activities as those that pass information on to the learner and allow the learner to comprehend knowledge from that information. He notes that Absorb activities inform and inspire.

Two common “Absorb” activities that can be used in a library skills course are readings and presentations.

Lesson Three: The Library of Congress Call Numbers

Objective: Understand the LC Call Number System and know how to find books on the shelf.

Absorb Activities:

1) Students will be given an explanatory reading (posted as a PDF as well as an audio file) of the Library of Congress call number system that includes links to the Library of Congress webpage. All formats will outline the system and provide in depth breakdown of the way call numbers are assigned.

2) A slideshow presentation that gives an overview of the Library of Congress Call Number system and explains the parts of a call number, how to read a call number, and how call numbers are arranged on the shelf.

2. Describe a “Do” type activity for one of the objectives in your course plan.

Horton (2012, p. 129) defines Do activities as those that transform the information absorbed into knowledge and skills. Do activities allow learners to apply their knowledge and, as Horton notes, “doing begets learning”.

Two common “Do” activities that can be used in a library skills course are practice activities and discovery activities.

Lesson Four: Using the Library’s Online Catalog

Objective: Master the theoretical and practical skills necessary to use an online catalog.

Do Activities: 

1) Students will practice searching for books by completing a guided search in the library catalog. The guided search will be in the form of a worksheet that they can print out or use online. They will be given three specific search terms that correspond to the three main search options in the catalog – Author, Title, Subject. They will be guided, step by step, in the use of limiters such as year of publication, format type, etc. Each guided search will lead to a specific result screen where students will find information to fill in the worksheet with the remaining information about the book.

2) Students will be asked to find three books in the catalog on a topic or by an author of their choice. They will be required to list their search term(s), provide the number of results, explain any limiters they used, and note the complete bibliographic information for each book.

3. Describe a “Connect” type activity for one of the objectives in your course plan.

Horton (2012, p. 163) defines Connect activities as those that integrate what is being learned with what is already known. Connect activities allow learners to apply what they have learned in real life situations. It’s this ability to tie together the new knowledge with previously learned knowledge that leads to higher level of understanding about the world.

Two common “Connect” activities that can be used in a library skills course are research and producing an original piece of work.

Lesson 10: Periodical Literature and Finding Articles

Objective: Understand the significance and use of periodical literature and periodical databases in the research process.

Connect Activities:

1) Students will be asked to gather five scholarly articles on a topic that they are researching for another class or that is of interest to them personally. They will be required to define the topic in both broader and narrower terms and list keywords they used in searching for articles. They will be required to explain which database(s) they used and why. They will be required to outline their search strategy including keywords, Boolean operators, and limiters. Students can elect to create a screen capture or slideshow to show their process or they can write it out. Processes will be shared on course discussion board or blog.

2) Students will be required to create an annotated bibliography using the five articles they found on their topic. This bibliography will be posted on the course discussion board or blog.

4. Choose one of the above activities and discuss the process you would use to create this presentation. For this task assume that you have no additional assistance other than the instructor who would be able to write content as you describe it and perform for a recording as needed.

There are three stages in the creation of elearning resources – preparation, production, and delivery (Newberry, 2015). I know from experience that creating user-friendly digital learning objects takes time and effort, and always much more time and effort than expected. In addition, the storage and delivery of these resources requires good organizational skills to insure easy access for students and instructor alike. I’m a librarian, so I know all about the organization and storage of data, even if I don’t know that much about media production!

In ETEC 674 we investigated a variety of tools for the production of presentations. One I particularly liked for screen captures was Screencast-O-Matic. In my example above, Lesson 10 Periodical Literature and Finding Articles, this application can be used in two ways. I will use it to demonstrate the database search process. This is an Absorb activity for the students. I will also ask the students to use it as a Connect activity to capture their own searches.

Process to Create Screencasts

First, determine the content. In Lesson 10 that entails selecting the database I wish to demonstrate, as well as the search terms and limiters I’ll use. I must also decide which database features to include – print, email, citations, etc. I would then develop a script and plan the screen flow, cursor movement, mouse clicks, dropdowns, etc. I’d practice several times to make sure my screencast is in sync with my verbal instructions and that I avoid incorrect clicks or other screen flow errors. Even though I can edit the screencast to remove mistakes, it’s worth it to do a few test runs of the screen movement and verbal instructions to make sure the recorded session will be as free of errors as possible. Since I have a script, I can simply upload it to create the captions but I must insert the time stamps. This is a very tedious but important task because it insures that the captions correspond to the action in the video. Last but not least, name, save, upload, and/or share via a link or embed code.

Since I’m asking the students to create their own screencast I’ll also create a screencast tutorial that shows them how to create an account in Screencast-O-Matic and how to create their own screencast. I’ll also provide a link to a PDF document outlining the steps. I’ll offer online or Skype assistance to help them get started.

Process to Create Audio File

Interestingly, I looked at my ETEC 674 blog and realized I had nicely outlined the creation process for a podcast. I am re-posting it here because I can use this process to create the Absorb activity audio files that are going to be alternatives to the PDF readings for this course.

I would use Audacity to create my podcast since I’m a Windows user. It’s free, simple to download, and easy to use. Contrary to what we often imagine when we hear the tern “podcast”, podcasts don’t have to be serial in nature. In online education they can be used as a stand-alone introduction to a course, for weekly lectures, or even to convey important news or course information as needed. Podcasts are an effective means of communicating because students can not only listen while they’re on their computer, laptop, or tablet, but they can also download the file and listen on the go via their smartphone or MP3 player.

I would take the advice of Professor Newberry (ETEC 674, 2015) and keep in mind some common characteristics of good educational presentations:

  • brevity
  • accuracy
  • topicality
  • production quality

Some other good advice comes from Jason Van Orden (2013) in his Podcast Tutorial: Four Basic Steps

  • Plan
  • Produce
  • Publish
  • Promote

To use Audacity, simply download the program and make sure your microphone functions properly. Before getting started, it’s important to think of a good topic and create an interesting script. It’s best not to “wing it” when recording a podcast for a class or instructional session. A script will keep you on track, minimize dead air, and also give you a transcript to easily create captions or a text file to insure ADA compliance. I’d practice reading the script a few times before getting started but after that I’d simply record the session, re-record and/or edit the recording if necessary, save the audio file, convert the audio file into MP3 format, and upload the file. The file can be shared via a link or an embedded

5. Discuss how your approach for the above task would be different if you were directing the development efforts of a team that included a graphic designer, a video editor and a web programmer along with all of the tools that such a team would typically use.

If I had the luxury of working with creative media professionals and a web master I would give them an outline and/or storyboard that included the content and the objectives of the lesson. I’d use their expertise to help me determine the best format and delivery method for my goal. I’d find out what else they need from me. For instance, am I going to create the screencast or will they? Do I need to read the script? I would coordinate tasks with the team and keep an ongoing dialog. I’d set a time frame for completion of specific tasks along the way as well as the final product. I’d expect to see drafts and be able to request alterations while in production. I’d expect a quick turnaround because they have expertise with the applications and technology. Yet I’d be mindful that there could be delays because they would most likely be working on productions for other clients at the same time. But in the end I’d expect a much more polished product that had a professional look as opposed to my own “home video” style production.

6. The text presents test types and presents a list of common types of test questions. In light of these, describe a test that would be appropriate for the class you planned in the previous session.

A test is any activity that indicates how well learners meet learning objectives (Horton, 2012, p. 215). However in certain courses practice activities work better than formal tests. I think this is especially true in a library skills class. Library skills activities can measure the learners’ progress, certify their research skills, motivate them by giving opportunities to master new knowledge about resources and the skills they need to use them, and encourage critical thinking. In ETEC 648 we learned about authentic assessment in which students are asked to perform real-world tasks that demonstrate meaningful application of essential knowledge and skills. To me this is similar to the Connect in Absorb-Do-Connect. In my class I generally like to use these Connect activities as authentic assessments.

However, Horton has outlined some very interesting test options and examples in his book and I can use several of them in my class. For example I would like to make sure the students read or listen to the “lecture” each week so I plan to create weekly Reading Quizzes in Sakai. These will be short, objective multiple choice (aka pick-one) and True/False tests that are automatically graded. All questions will come directly from the lecture and the tests will be open-book.

I appreciate Horton’s mention of the pre-test (p.278). This is something I use not only in my library skills class but in my one-shot library orientation sessions. The opportunity for the students to think about what they know going into a library session and to compare it to what they know coming out is always rewarding to all.


Horton, W. (2012). E-learning by design. San Francisco, CA: John Wiley and Sons.

Newberry, B. (2015). ETEC 541 Session Six Lecture. [Word document]. Retrieved from CSUSB Blackboard ETEC 541.

Newberry, B. (2015). ETEC 674 Session Five Lecture. [Word document]. Retrieved from CSUSB Blackboard ETEC 674.

Van Orden, J. (2013). Podcast tutorial: Four basic steps. How to podcast: The definitive step-by-step guide on how to podcast without breaking the bank. Retrieved from