ICT in Education Toolkit

Tool 4.5 Design, Development & Testing of Curricular ICT-Enhanced Content

  1. Contentware Framework

Basic Premise
This tool is based on the premise that contentware is an integral part of a process of curriculum and instructional development. In fact, it is the third step in this process:

  • Step 1. Identification of curriculum objectives (what students are intended to learn in terms of knowledge, skills, attitudes, etc), content, and instructional methodologies.
  • Step 2. Instructional plan: the best ways to teach the identified curricular elements, and most suitable measures to help students learn them.
  • Step 3. Contentware plan: The translation of an instructional plan into contentware plan should take many forms. Teaching/learning activities require a variety of channels, patterns, structures, emphases and technologies. Thus contentware offers combinations of learning channels and appropriate technologies to be utilized in light of their comparative advantage, availability, efficiency and cost-effectiveness.

Building Blocks
Elements of the process outlined in this Tool may be applied, as appropriate, to the development of ICT-enhanced contentware in the form of content objects or modules. An object or a module is an educational entity that translates curricular content and pedagogy into an instructional instrument.

The literature refers to the concepts of modules, Learning or Education Objects (EOs) and Sharable Content Objects (SCOs). These terms mean different things to different people. See:

SCORM: http://www.lsal.cmu.edu/lsal/expertise/projects/developersguide/

Education Objects Economy: http://www.eoe.org/eoe.htm

This Tool uses the more general and indicative term, MODULE, which encompasses the basic concepts of EOs and SCOs. The ICT components contained in a module will be referred to as ICT ASSETS.

A module combines conceptions of effective learning with appropriate ICTs: text, image, audio, video, and computers-related and web-related multimedia technologies. These media components of a module will be referred to as ICT "assets". These assets are usually selected on the basis of their value-added over non-ICT approaches and on their comparative cost-effectiveness.

The main characteristics of a Module are:

  • Modules can be small, representing one concept or activity or large representing a lesson or a curricular unit.
  • Modules can focus on one teaching/learning objective such as demonstration, exploration, application, etc, or on a combination of instructional objectives.
  • A module may contain one ICT asset - such as an audio program, a video or a simulation – or it may contain a combination of multimedia assets.
  • Modules may be stand-alone pieces to enrich the teaching/learning of a topic in a textbook or a lesson plan, or they may form the building blocks of curricular unit or a digital course.
  • Modules are usually structured in such a way as to allow for flexibility in configuring them and integrating them into the teaching/learning process.

Packaging and Delivery
As modules are designed and developed, it is important to make early decisions as how they are to be packaged and delivered to learning institutions.

  • The packaging and delivery of self-standing modules normally does not require the support of a course or learning management system. Audio modules can be distributed as tapes over the radio. Similarly video modules can be distributed as video tapes or DVDs or disseminated via television. Digital multimedia modules may be distributed on CDs or over the Internet.
  • Modules that are interconnected and constitute a course or a program of study (such as a virtual high school or university or an e-training program) have to be packaged into a database or content repository for indexing, sequencing, management, feedback, etc. Such a package may be disseminated over the Internet using a Learning Management System or a Learning and Content management System. (See Tool 5.3.3..) However, at the present, there are serious limitations on Internet access in many places. It is, therefore, essential that the learning modules and the technical infrastructure underlying the modules be organized to accommodate limited or no connectivity. Thus alternatively
    • The system may be built around a browser-based architecture and stored on CDs.
    • The package of modules is stored locally on an Internet "proxy" server.
    • Because video is storage and connectivity "intensive," video aspects of learning modules may be delivered in the form of videotapes or DVDs. This does not exclude supplementary broadcasts where the infrastructure already exists.

  2. Who Develops Contentware

The development of contentware as an integral part of curriculum and instructional development is a sophisticated and expensive endeavor.

The Tool assumes that the design and development of contentware will be carried out by multifaceted professional groups at a central level. See Section 3 below. The advantages of this option are:

  • These groups can be highly trained and can be assigned to work full-time on this activity. This leads to consistently high quality product, build-up of experience and learning, and systematic coordination with national curricular and instructional plans.
  • The groups can be efficiently equipped with suitable hardware and software.
  • Development of contentware that may be used on a large scale offers economies of scale, leading to low unit costs.
  • Planning for contentware developed that easily include plans for packaging and dissemination.
  • This option lends itself to a central maintenance system that includes revisions, updates and administration.

This should not, however, stop teachers from developing certain educational assets or modules. There arte many benefits from that. Teachers have a good understanding of the cognitive and instructional contexts, and are experienced judges of what may or may not work. However, to rely on teachers to develop the system of integrated contentware will encounter many issues. For example:

  • Teachers normally do not have time, skill, and technical support to design and develop high quality and integrated contentware. To provide teachers with sufficient time, training and technical support is more expensive and complicated than providing these resources to a central team.
  • The quality of the product will vary.
  • It is difficult to provide a wholesome program of contentware that responds to the full range of curriculum content and objectives.

There is, however, a place for the development of contentware by teachers to be used on in the classroom or school. Also the central team may co-opt certain teachers to develop draft assets or modules in the context of an integrated plan. The process that this Tool presents will help teachers in both cases.

It is also desirable to engage students in the exercise of development of assets and modules with the aim to build conceptual understandings, express ideas, create new resources, and acquire high level of technology literacy. Some elements of this Tool can guide students in such exercises.

  3. Selection and Training of Contentware Development Teams

The development of effective contentware requires high level professional and sophisticated mechanisms to design, produce, test, and package them. The first and most crucial step in the process is the constitution and training of contentware development teams. The role of these teams is to design, develop, test, finalize, and package the set of learning modules to fulfill the needs identified in Tool 4.1.

Composition of the Development Teams

Depending on the scope of contentware development, there could be one core team that provides overall instructional and technical leadership supported by "satellite teams" focusing on different curricular subjects. Due to the multifaceted nature of the learning modules discussed above, the composition and expertise of both the core and satellite teams should reflect this diversity. The teams will draw upon other specialists and institutions in the implementation of their work.

For a summary of the composition of a typical development team specifying roles, specializations, qualifications, and experience, see below. The scope of work determines the numbers of each specialty.


Training of Development Teams

The above specialists need to be oriented/trained in:

  • The process of design, development and testing of modules
  • The actual production
  • Testing of modules
  • Application of authoring and learning management systems (if this option is chosen)

The scope of the orientation/training program depends on the level of qualifications and experience of the Team members. A typical program may include the following

Initial Orientation/Training – about a week

  • Practicum- Development of experimental modules – Two months
  • Feedback and evaluation workshop - One week

For a sample program of initial orientation/training, see below:

Training of Development Teams

The above specialists need to be oriented/trained in:

  • The process of design, development and testing of modules
  • The actual production
  • Testing of modules
  • Application of authoring and learning management systems (if this option is chosen)

The scope of the orientation/training program depends on the level of qualifications and experience of the team members. A typical program may include the following

  • Initial Orientation/Training - about a week
  • Practicum- Development of experimental modules - Two months
  • Feedback and evaluation workshop - One week
Click here for a sample program of Initial Orientation/Training


  4. Provision of Necessary Facilities

Depending on the kind of technologies to be used in the development of contentware, the Development Teams need to have access to appropriate high quality facilities. These facilities include:

  • Audio recording (either access to a studio, or setting up one) 
  • Computer Workstations
    • Sufficient number of high power desktop computers and multimedia capabilities.
    • Flat screen monitors
    • UPS/surge suppressor
    • Common software: productivity tools, Web development tools, Email & Internet connectivity software, image processing tools, text editing & layout software, graphics and paint programs.
    • Other software: programming tools, database development tools, statistical packages, graphing packages, miscellaneous
  • Video Editing Suite
    • Professional quality digital video camera
    • One non-linear video editing board for workstation, with software
    • Two professional quality television monitors
    • Miscellaneous software
  • Portable Computers
  • Portable LCD projection system
  • Computer Related Hardware
    • Flat Bed Color Scanner
    • Slide Scanner
    • Color Printer
    • Computer furniture
  • Related Needs
    • Satellite downlink (KU, C, & other bands), television, analog & digital VCRs
    • Plain Paper Copier

  5. Delineation of Scope of Work

Step 1. Review Lists of Required Contenware

At the bottom of this page (or in the Filing Cabinet), you can see the list of all required contentware identified by the team through this tool. Print this report for offline discussion and evaluation of the top needs for this contentware needs list.

Step 2.: Review Lists of Identified Contentware and Web Content

At the bottom of this page (or in the Filing Cabinet), you can see a link to a list of all identified contentware items and a link to a list of all identified web content that may be suitable for this program.

Print these two reports for offline discusison and evaluation of how these items, in light of the above needs, meet the following criteria:
  • If the item is suitable for adoption or adaptation you need to weigh that against creating a comparable one, in terms of cost and suitability.
  • Even if an item is not suitable for adoption or adaptation, it may be a good source of ideas to the Team while it is designing and developing a new contentware. 

Step 3. Annotate the lists

Copy/paste the reports into word for offline work. Annotate the list, edit, discuss, etc.

Step 4. Generate List of Learning Modules

For each set of items in the list(s) under each curricular Topic, in your word document, generate a list of Learning Modules that best translate the Topic into teaching/learning activities. This list constitutes the Scope of Work for the Development Teams.

  6. Design and Blueprint of Modules

Before a module is developed, the Team should invest time and effort into designing the educational and technical aspects of the module. The design should be formulated within the context of prevailing or planned educational and technological conditions.

The box below presents the essential components of the general design/blueprint

General Design/Blueprint
Basic Information

Module Title:




Who will use the module? Grade level

Educational Objectives

What is the module expected to accomplish?

  • What do students need to know about that specific topic?
  • What skills need to be developed?
  • What do teachers' need to teach about that specific unit?
  • What is the expected outcome at the end of the teaching/learning process?
Pre-requisite knowledge
  • What was supposed to be taught before that is relevant and essential for this module?
  • How does the module integrate with the overall curriculum?

Module Structure

After the above general issues are well defined, the Team develops the conceptual structure of the module in terms of teaching/ learning activities and identifies appropriate technologies to support them. These activities constitute the elements of the module and answer the question: "what components does this module need to best attain the proposed objectives, for the proposed target?"

Here is an example of a structure:

Teaching/Learning Activity Assets
Presenting a problem Video
Demonstrating a concept Animation
Establishing a scientific "law" or mathematical relationship Simulation
Collaborative learning Research/Discussion
Application to new situations Exploration
Synthesis of different concepts in a real-life situation Problem solving

(Note: The ICT assets used to enhance a particular teaching/learning activity should have an added value over other assets (particularly when they are simpler and less expensive) and also an added value over no ICTs. There is no recipe for such choices. However, a list of affordances and limitations of different instructional technologies may facilitate the decision process. )



The Team develops a blueprint for each of the elements in the module. For each element, the blueprint must include:

  • Educational sub-objectives, including competencies such as problem-solving, critical thinking, collaborative learning
  • Details of the teaching/learning activities
  • Educational/technology assets
    The specifications for each selected asset should be spelled out, including descriptions, scripts, and scenarios. This should be detailed enough so that technology members of the team will be able to translate them into actual products
  • Supporting activities and materials -recommended for use with the element, such as books, maps, lab experiments, paper and pencil exercises, etc.

  7. Construction of Modules

After the Team agrees on the design of a module, it develops the educational content and the ICT assets in accordance with the design. This process is guided by the following:
  1. Follow the module design with flexibility. Some elements of the design may prove to be impractical or unsuitable and need to be modified or replaced. Also new ideas may emerge.
  2. Focus on the educational content and the instructional design.
  3. Detail the scenario of how the module is to be used by teachers and students.
  4. Before developing the ICT assets, surf the web for relevant educational content to find educational objects or assets that can be embedded into the module or used as samples for developing new assets.
    Use Tool 4.2
  5. When there is a choice, select the technology that is simplest and most user-friendly.
  6. Some elements of the modules may be simple, and the Team will have the skills and experience necessary to develop them without further help. Other elements may be more complex. The Team may feel the need to consult with other experts for advice and technical input.
  7. If the decision has been made to use an authoring and/or a course/learning management system, the specifications and format of the module should be compatible with the selected software.

  8. Testing and Revision of Modules

After a module is constructed it should be tested for implementability. (The teaching/Learning effectiveness of the system of modules will be tested in the classroom as part of the evaluation of the ICT Intervention. The evaluation process is described in Tool 6.1.)

The Implementability Test of each module is administered in two parts:

  • A group of master teachers (3-5) is selected to review the draft module and comment on it from their perspective, in terms of content, clarity, motivation, friendliness, appropriateness for teaching at the intended level, presumed effect on students, etc.
  • Each of the above teachers will select 2-3 of his/her students and share with them the draft module (not teach it to them.) These students could have studied the topic before. The students will go through the module and comment on it from their perspective, in terms of clarity, friendliness, appropriateness for the intended level, presumed effect on students in terms of motivation, engagement, problem solving, application, etc

To standardize and facilitate the review process, a Guide for Testing of Implementability of Draft Module is presented as Annex B. It helps teachers and students in reviewing a module and recording test results. The Form may be downloaded and saved on a hard disk to be completed electronically and communicated to the Development team. Alternatively it may be printed and completed manually.

Guide for Testing of Implementability of Draft Module - Teacher Part
Guide for Testing of Implementatbility of Draft Module - Student Part

The Development Team revises the Draft Module according to the feedback received from Testing for Implementability. Before finalizing the Module, all the technical aspects should be tested, including hyperlinks to web sites or documents.

This tool provides guidance for offline activities. Thus there are no online outputs.

The application of this tool generates a set of teaching/learning modules to be used as the building blocks of curricular contentware.

These modules may be accessed depending on the options selected for packaging and delivery discussed above.

If any documents have been uploaded to the Team Bookshellf, they may be accessed at anytime.

  Reference Information

Composition of the Development Teams

Team Member Role Specialization Qualifications
Content Specialist Writes content text and scripts; injects into team discussion nature of "discipline" and of learning. In a subject-matter area. All specializations should be represented. Solid background in subject area; training in instructional methodology desirable (e.g. science education, TEFL); experience in development of multimedia materials highly desirable >
Master Teacher Provides the classroom perspective for the development of modules, e.g., how to select effective teaching/learning activities, how students react to specific approaches, what difficulties teachers and students may face in presenting specific topics, etc. In a subject-matter area. All specializations should be represented. Solid background in subject area; distinguished teaching career; experience in development or use of multimedia materials highly desirable; open to innovations.
Instructional Design Specialist The "architect" of the team; helps translate the curricular content into specific teaching-learning activities and then into instructional options; provides crucial input into the design of the learning module. Does not need to be an expert in a curriculum subject; specialization in Instructional Design; in case no such specialization exists, the alternative would be a candidate with either background training in curriculum development or solid experience in instructional materials development. Experience in instructional design, curriculum development and design of multimedia materials; creativity and innovation.
ICT Specialist/Programmer Brings to the discussion the potential of different technology options and translates the instructional design of a module into a multimedia product electronically and artistically. In one or more media applications depending on contentware needs; knowledge of authoring tools. Experience in developing multimedia materials
Graphic designer/

Media Producer

Responsible - with the ICT specialist - for creating module ICT assets (audio, video, graphics, simulations, etc) Competency in relevant skills such as graphics and animation design such as Photoshop, Illustrator, Flash and Fireworks and other common graphic packages Experience in developing educational software is highly desirable.

Affordances and Limitations of Instructional Technologies *

Text Books/ magazines • Portable
• Durable
• Can present complex information
• Sequential structure guides learner
• Little eyestrain
• Moderate cost of development
• Difficult to modify (as in localization, updating, etc.)
• Requires literacy plus higher-order thinking skills
• Content is difficult to extract for use in other resources
• High per-unit cost of publication
  Web page • Dynamic and easily modified
• Hyperlinks enable nonsequential navigation
• Low cost of development and very low publishing costs
• Supports interactivity (e.g., navigation, user-entered information, etc.)
• Can support assessment
• Nonsequential structure may obscure critical information or cause confusion
• Reading may cause fatigue
• Requires PC, electricity, connection
• Potential additional system requirements (e.g., Java, plug-ins)
Images Printed photos, maps, and schematic drawing • Concrete, specific, detailed information
• Appropriate for learners with “visual intelligence”
• Engaging and motivating for many learners
• Low information value relative to text
• Resistant to reuse by learners
• “Visual literacy” skills required for best use
• High cost of reproduction
  Digital photos, maps, and schematic drawings • Affordances similar to printed photos
• Easily copied, shared, and used
• Low costs for reproduction and publishing
• Can be data-based or Web-served for delivery to handheld computers and other “anytime, anywhere” devices
• Limitations similar to printed photos
• Require PC and electricity, possibly an Internet connection
Audio Radio • Can present contemporary and topical information easily
• Highly accessible and potentially engaging format (no literacy skills required)
• Widespread adoption in developing countries
• Moderate production costs
• Highly scalable
• Low-cost hardware
• Information is not durable; learners can’t “review” a broadcast
• Poor presentation of complex concepts
• No visual component (e.g., schematics, maps, photos)
• Synchronous form requires system-wide coordination (e.g., announcements, class schedules, etc.)
  Audiotape • Wide adoption, low-cost hardware
• Information persists (tape may be reviewed many times)
• Moderate production and reproduction costs • Highly accessible
• Supports asynchronous presentation
• Sequential structure guides learner
• Poor presentation of complex concepts
• Medium is not durable, especially in extreme circumstances
• Studio recordings not easily modifiable or well-suited for current events
  Digital audio (Web- and CD-based) • Can present contemporary and topical information easily (Web)
• Information is durable (e.g., it can be reviewed many times)
• Medium is durable
• Moderate production costs
• Low reproduction costs; easily scaled
• Easily catalogued and reused (by developers and users)
• Can be indexed or catalogued to enable nonsequential access
• Requires robust PC and/or high-speed Internet connection
• High storage “overhead” (in terms of hard drive capacity)
• May not support presentation of complex concepts
Video Analog • Highly accessible and potentially engaging format (no literacy skills required)
• Sequential structure guides learner
• Concrete, specific, detailed information
• Appropriate for learners with “visual intelligence”
• Engaging and motivating for many learners
• Moderate hardware costs
• High production costs; moderate reproduction costs
• Complex information may be difficult to present effectively
• Information may prove difficult for some learners to analyze/synthesize
  Broadcast • Same as analog video
• Can present contemporary or topical information easily
• Easily catalogued and reused (by developers and users)
• Can be indexed or catalogued to enable nonsequential access
• NOTE: “moderate hardware costs” is not applicable
• Same as analog video
• Requires robust PC and/or high-speed Internet connection
• High storage “overhead” (in terms of hard drive capacity)
Simulations Noninteractive (Web- and CD-based) • Can present complex and conceptual information (e.g., electrostatics)
• Easily catalogued and reused
• Moderate production costs
• Low to moderate reproduction costs; easily scaled
• Conceptual learning is difficult to reinforce without additional support (e.g., active learning, text, etc.)
  Interactive (Web- and CD-based) • Same as noninteractive simulations
• Active-learning characteristics engage learners via several paths to reinforce concepts
• Quantitative elements are supported (and reinforce conceptual learning)
• Engaging and motivating for many learners
• Can support assessment
• Requires robust PC and/or high-speed Internet connection
• Potential additional system requirements (e.g., Java, plug-ins)

Cesar Nunes and Edmond Gaible. 2002. “Development of Multimedia materials.” In: Wadi Haddad and Alexandra Draxler, Editors. Technologies for education: Potential, Parameters, and Prospects. Paris: UNESCO. Washington, D.C.: Academy for Educational Development.

Sample Orientation/Training Program

The program of Initial Orientation/Training includes the following topics (including hands-on workshops):

  • Process of Production of Multimedia Modules
    • Overview of steps and modalities of work
    • Production instruments
    • Timetable of development and testing
  • Blueprint/Design of a module
    • Principles and Guidelines
    • Review of samples
    • Surfing for educational objects/assets
    • Development of Blueprint/Design of a module Version 1 ( Each subject-matter team will develop a corresponding design/blueprint with the help of the technical team members)
    • Review and critique of module Design Version 1
    • Revision of Design, and Presentation of Version 2
    • Review and critique of Version 2
  • Introduction to module production
    • Tools and Technology review
    • Presentation of examples
    • Analysis of examples
  • Production of elements of modules
    • Each subject-matter team, with the assistance of the technical staff, will develop three elements from the Design/Blueprint Version 2 that was developed in the previous segment. The elements will demonstrate incorporation of available ICT assets, incorporation of adapted ICT assets, and creation of new elements and assets. The exercise covers technical development of the module elements, educational scenario for the student, and instructions for the teachers on how to use the elements.
    • Review and critique of elements Version A
    • Revision of elements into Version B
    • Presentation of revisions
  • Presentation and discussion of general guidelines

Guide for Testing of Implementation of Draft Module

Teacher Part

Module Title: _______________________

On a scale from 1 to 5, please rate the following items about this draft module:

Easy to use
_____ Easy to Use
_____ Exciting
_____ Relevant
_____ Clear
_____ Accurate
_____ Makes me feel like teaching the topic
_____ Makes teaching the topic easier
_____ Provides up-to-date information

Answer in detail the following questions regarding every element of the draft module:

  • Which parts are particularly good and should not be changed? Why?
  • Do all the parts of the module work well together? If not, what are your suggestions?
  • Is there anything that should be added to the module to make it more useful and interesting?
  • Is there any relevant information missing on this topic?
  • If you have the choice, will you use this module in your classes when teaching this subject? Elaborate.

Other comments and suggestions:

Guide for Testing of Implementation of Draft Module

Student Part

Module Title:________________________

On a scale from 1 to 5, please rate the following items about this module

_____ Easy to use
_____ Fun
_____ Relevant
_____ Clear
_____ Accurate
_____ Adds to my knowledge of the topic
_____ Makes me feel like learning more about the topic
_____ The topic seems easier to learn

Answer in detail the following questions regarding every element of the draft module:

  • Which components of the module are particularly difficult or less interesting and should be modified? Why?
  • Which components are particularly good and should not be modified? Why?
  • Do the elements work well together?
  • Is there anything that should be added to the module to improve it?
  • Is there anything else about this topic that you would like to learn?
  • Would you enjoy having similar modules for other topics in this course?

Other comments and suggestions: