Initital Challenges Discussion from ELT 7003 at NCU - Instructional Design and Engaging e-Learning Activities

e-Learning opportunities pose challenges for novice and experienced learners as well as faculty given the e-learning environment is significantly different from the traditional face-to-face learning environment. Rosenberg (2000) in reference to the e-learning environment stated “remember that you are radically changing the work environment as well as the learning environment” (p. 201). The challenge for learners and faculty is how to develop the skills and abilities required to effectively and successfully teach and learn in the online environment. Initial challenges faced by faculty who already possess the technical skills and abilities necessary for the online environment include how to convert activities to meet the needs of online learners and how to ensure learners are ready to participate in the online environment (Conrad & Donaldson, 2004; Palloff & Pratt, 2001). Learners face challenges related to technical skills and abilities as well as how to communicate online and how to determine their readiness to participate in e-learning opportunities (Watkins, 2005).

Readiness assessments are an effective technique to determine the technology skills and abilities of learners and serve as good ice-breaker activities when placed early in the course content (Watkins, 2005). Learners given the opportunity to self-assess their readiness to participate in the online environment can target the areas which require further development to be successful in e-learning courses. Ice-breaker activities designed to reinforce technical skills required in the online environment and navigation of the course content provide early opportunities for learners to work through the challenge of online participation (Watkins, 2005). In the course BA 101 offered at Southwestern Oregon Community College I have incorporated three ice-breaker activities which include (a) a biography discussion posting, (b) the submission of the biography as an attached document, and (c) an initial quiz of the syllabus to reinforce course requirements and expose learners to participation in an assessment of their learning. Each of these activities supports the development of a positive communication exchange and help learners to form relationships with their peers and the instructor through active participation (Watkins, 2005).


Conrad, R., & Donaldson, J. (2004). Engaging the online learner: Activities and resources for creative instruction. San Francisco, CA: Jossey-Bass.

Palloff, R., & Pratt, K. (2001). Lessons from the cyberspace classroom: The realities of online teaching. San Francisco, CA: Jossey-Bass.
Rosenberg, M. (2000). E-learning: Strategies for delivering knowledge in the digital age. New York, NY: McGraw-Hill.

Watkins, R. (2005). 75 e-learning activities: Making online learning interactive. San Francisco, CA: Pfeiffer.