Delivering Health Education via the Web - Design and Formative Evaluation of a Discourse-based Learning Environment.
Constructivist learning theory suggests that important components of the learning process are learner interaction and discourse. The nature of health education is such that emphasis is placed on discussion of health attitudes, beliefs, values, and behaviours as a key instructional strategy. It follows then, that health education learning environments designed using constructivist learning principles and employing instructional strategies that allow for learner discourse and interaction should contribute to knowledge construction and attitude change. The rapid development of the World Wide Web and its increasing use for educational purposes provides a unique medium for such a learning environment. This increasing utilisation of the Web, particularly in the tertiary setting, allows instructors to explore ways of taking advantage of the Web’s potential to provide for learning experiences that go beyond that possible in the traditional classroom environment. Enhancements to the tertiary learning experience that can be realised with Web technologies include: (1) direct access to a variety of international resources on a broad range of topics; (2) access to a learning environment that is not limited to scheduled lecture and tutorial hours; (3) opportunities for a variety of learning activities including small group discussion and collaborative projects; and (4) exposure to and a forum for expressing and discussing different beliefs and attitudes.