The guiding process in discovery hypertext learning environments for the Internet
Hypertext is the dominant method to navigate the Internet, providing user freedom and control over navigational behaviour. There has been an increase in converting existing educational material into Internet web pages but weaknesses have been identified in current WWW learning systems. There is a lack of conceptual support for learning from hypertext, navigational disorientation and cognitive overload. This implies the need for an established pedagogical approach to developing the web as a teaching and learning medium. Guided Discovery Learning is proposed as an educational pedagogy suitable for supporting WWW learning. The hypothesis is that a guided discovery environment will produce greater gains in learning and satisfaction, than a non-adaptive hypertext environment. A second hypothesis is that combining concept maps with this specific educational paradigm will provide cognitive support. The third hypothesis is that student learning styles will not influence learning outcome or user satisfaction. Thus, providing evidence that the guided discovery learning paradigm can be used for many types of learning styles. This was investigated by the building of a guided discovery system and a framework devised for assessing teaching styles. The system provided varying discovery steps, guided advice, individualistic system instruction and navigational control. An 84 subject experiment compared a Guided discovery condition, a Map-only condition and an Unguided condition. Subjects were subdivided according to learning styles, with measures for learning outcome and user satisfaction. The results indicate that providing guidance will result in a significant increase in level of learning. Guided discovery condition subjects, regardless of learning styles, experienced levels of satisfaction comparable to those in the other conditions. The concept mapping tool did not appear to affect learning outcome or user satisfaction. The conclusion was that using a particular approach to guidance would result in a more supportive environment for learning. This research contributes to the need for a better understanding of the pedagogic design that should be incorporated into WWW learning environments, with a recommendation for a guided discovery approach to alleviate major hypertext and WWW issues for distance learning.