January 18, 2005
DESIGN: Navigational Blindness
This interesting article about navigational blindness from guuui.com argues that goal-oriented users tend to ignore standard global navigation tools, focusing on only the center of the page and the back button. The article suggests that users need prominent, integrated links that make use of the specific "trigger words" users are looking for.
(link via HeadsPace J)
October 01, 2004
DESIGN: New eLearning Design Challenge
Good news...Ron Lubensky has posted the third eLearning Design Challenge, which involves designing a 15-minute introduction to a new computer system.
The challenges are a collaborative forum-type exercise for instructional designers - and a great example of blogs as a learning tool. (This is a particularly appropriate activity for participants in this semester's Principles and Practices course.)
September 23, 2004
RESOURCES: User Experience
August 05, 2004
DESIGN: Shareware Design Course
This shareware course from ScratchMedia, a UK-based new media consultancy, offers practical information on good web design, including basic information about how to perform a simple analysis, "tutorials" (really these are more a series of brief essays) on design topics, and case studies that address design problems on real sites.... Nice, simple explanations with lots of supportive graphics.
(link via elearningpost)
August 04, 2004
DESIGN: IA & Info Design
In this article for the Australian Flexible Learning Community, Maish Nichani presents a nice, concise argument for taking a "big picture" approach to user experience design - with a useful description of some differences between IA & ID.
(link via elearningpost)
July 15, 2004
RESOURCES: Instructional Design Workbook
This workbook is an interesting resource from the University of South Alabama that gives a good overview of ISD issues and would work nicely as a supplement to a more comprehensive text.
It also contains some useful interactive exercises for the user to work through (but it's a bit awkward in terms of page design and navigation). The type on the home page is so small that I nearly didn't attempt to go any further, but the rest of it is easy to read and graphically interesting.
The program is in Authorware, so you may have to download a plugin to access it, but it's worth the effort.
(link via the DEOS-L list)
July 13, 2004
COURSE DESIGN: Interactive module planning
Having trouble writing up your own online module plans? The Interactive Unit Planner can help. While this is a bit "clunky" as a development tool for seasoned pros, it does afford a nice step-by-step systems design approach for novice developers, as well as supportive materials and suggested readings.
The Saskatchewan Teacher's Webportal System is a similar planning product that also allows you to design a webquest activity, though I found the interface a bit less intuitive (and a bit more buggy).
(link via OLDaily)
July 11, 2004
COURSE DESIGN: Take the Challenge
In Ron Lubensky's new blog eLearning Design Challenge, readers are invited to respond to e-learning design challenges or to submit their own challenge for others to respond to.
July 07, 2004
RESOURCES: Course Design & Development
These Web design guidelines from IBM provide a basic introduction to the topics of site structure, navigation, text design, and visual layout. On the same site, the section on Design concepts gives a basic introduction to the topics of user-interface and user-experience design, as well as some basic principles of good site design.
- This brief article by Stephen Downes provides a good definition and overview
- This tutorial from Webmonkey is a good place to start if you're new to IA, particularly the lessons on Site structure and Visual design.
- AIfIA (The Asilomar Institute for Information Architecture) provides a host of resources, including a Design tools section that includes sample process maps, content development spreadsheets, wireframe templates, and other development tools.
July 04, 2004
COURSE DESIGN: What are Learning Objects?Learning objects (LOs) -- also called reusable learning objects (RLOs) -- are small, self-contained "chunks" or "blocks" of learning content designed to be used in multiple courses and course contexts.
Just as building blocks can be reorganized and recombined to create new structures, the individual learning objects stored in a database can be "mixed and matched" to create a variety of courses. Each learning object is tagged electronically with a description and key words (called "metadata") that allows for targeted searching within the database.
How is a learning-objects approach different?
Traditionally, course designers look at each course as unique -- tailoring content, objectives, and interactions very narrowly to suit the specific course purpose, context, audience and/or specific performance goals. Individual course elements are designed to flow naturally within that course’s structure and in accordance with a particular sequencing strategy.
When developing reusable objects, however, the goal is to create modular units of instruction for use in a variety of courses. This requires that each object be:
- Self-contained. Objects must be able to fit within a variety of sequencing strategies and contexts, so each object should make sense as a stand-alone unit of instruction.
- Standardized. The mix-and-match approach requires that each object meet preset requirements, in terms of both graphic design and content, so that different combinations of learning objects will combine seamlessly.
- Broadly accessible. Rather than targeting a very narrow audience for a specific course offering, the designer should target the broadest audience practicable for each object.
A learning-objects approach can allow an organization to standardize content common to multiple courses, standardize the "look and feel" of courses, and cut down on course development time while increasing ROI by amortizing development costs across a wider range of course offerings. However, this type of approach can’t be implemented haphazardly; it requires a clear, well-planned strategy for implementation and clear specifications for the type and "size" of objects to be developed, as well as for content, language, templates, metadata, etc., to be used.
For more information, you may want to take a look at some of the following resources:
- A Field Guide To Learning Objects (PDF). A practical guide from ASTD and SmartForce that defines different types of learning objects and their use.
- A Primer on Learning Objects. An article from the March 2000 issue of ASTD's Learning Circuits
- Three Objections to Learning Objects. A discussion of some problems with learning objectsfrom Norm Friesen of Athabasca University.
- LCMS = LMS + CMS [RLOs]. A useful set of definitions and explainations from elearningpost.
- Use and Abuse of Reusable Learning Objects. A useful article from Pithamber Polsani of the University of Arizona (from the Journal of Digital Information).
July 01, 2004
COURSE DESIGN: Instructional StrategiesOnce you've waded through the course analysis tasks and defined your learning objectives, it's time to get creative! Designing instructional strategies is at the heart of the instructional designer's job -- in fact, it's right there in the job title. This is where you get to apply your theories about learning in concrete and (one hopes) measurable ways in designing interactions that your learners will respond to.
At this stage of course development, the focus on specific media should be at a fairly high level... you want to be mindful of the kind of learning interactions that are possible in your environment (in terms of communication tools, simulations, testing, etc.) so that you can be sure that you can achieve the learning outcomes stated in your objectives. (For example, you obviously can't have "group discussion" in a self-instructional course unless you also have access to a forum, synchronous classroom, blog, or other collaborative space!)
It's important for the learning - not the technology - to be in the driver's seat, however. While technology does limit some of what you can achieve in your course, with some thought and creativity, you can create engaging learning experiences even in fairly low-tech learning environments.
Stop and Reassess
Before you move on to more complex design and development tasks, it's a good idea to stop at this point and reassess your analysis findings and overall course goals. Ask yourself whether you can really achieve what you want to, given your resources, audience, and technology.
The time to make any significant changes to your overall course goals and purpose is now, before you've expended time, energy, and resources on creating content, designing interactive elements and graphics, or investing in specific technologies.
RESOURCES: Instructional StrategiesThe following resources may be helpful in thinking about issues related to strategy and media selection
- Designing Instructional Strategies for the Web. (Word file) A very useful template form for conducting training-of-trainers in instructional strategies that is designed to be used in a workshop setting along with content on Virginia Tech's Web-based Instruction page. (You may also want to take a look at their Teaching Models page for a review of some key issues related to teacher-centered vs. learner-centered models and strategies)
- Instructional Strategy Exercises . Interactive practice on choosing instructional strategies from Dr. Albert L. Ingram's course on Instructional Design
- Instructional Strategy lesson from the Instructional Technology master's program at Virginia Tech
- Developing an Instructional Strategy (Powerpoint slides), from Barry Williams of PSU, which contains some useful information on designing strategies for attitudinal objectives
- The Learning Strategies page from Big Dog's ISD resource, particularly the "Instructional Strategy Selection Chart"
June 27, 2004
RESOURCES: Interface Design
User Experience Design.
Semantic Studios's Peter Morville describes a "user experience honeycomb" to help define priorities and move beyond simply designing for accessibility.
On Sitepoint, Subha Subramanian does a nice job of giving an easy-to-read introduction to this key interface design topic.
Syntactic vs. Visual Knowledge.
As a followup to the Forum question about WIMP, I found this article from Juan C. Dürsteler of Inf@Vis! comparing the different types of knowledge a user needs to interact with a graphical vs. a command-line interface.