Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Personal Learning Network

An assignment for my "Tech for Teaching" class at SDSU requires us to follow Ed Tech related blogs on our reader than write up a summary of what we learned from reading these posts and how these lessons apply to our professional goals. This is the first of 4 Personal Learning Network reports on some lessons I have learned lately through blogs I follow in Google Reader.

As an Instructional Designer and eLearning developer, many of my personal development goals revolve around improving my visual design skills. While “the look” of an eLearning course is a crucial element, it is also one of the areas I am weakest in. This PLN report highlights a couple of blog posts found through Google Reader that are helping me to improve my visual design skills.

The first blog post is from the “Rapid eLearning Blog” by Tom Kuhlman who provides great advice for creating effective eLearning, rapidly. His post “5 Common Visual Design Mistakes” reviews some of the common mistakes committed by eLearning designers and how to avoid making them. One of the common mistakes that I learned from is the third mistake, “Graphics Don’t Match.” In my own work, I have found that sometimes it can be difficult to find a graphic of what you visualized in your design. Often I will find my self searching through several different resources resulting in a variety of graphics in the eLearning course that don’t necessarily match. The graphics add to the content and help to reach the objectives but some times they don’t match the overall theme of the course. This blog post helped me to realize the impact of matching graphics so that they are a part of the whole. Tom does not go into detail about how to do this but he does provide a link to another great post for custom designing graphics that match. With Tom’s tips I will be able to improve the effectiveness of my eLearning courses by using graphics that add to the course as a whole.

The second blog post is from Cathy Moore’s “Making Change” blog. I’m a long time follower of Cathy’s blog and have learned a lot from her posts about creating engaging, lively eLearning. In a recent post titled “Could Animations Hurt Learning”, Cathy reviewed the results and implications of recent research which studied the results of eLearning courses that use animations versus the results of eLearning courses which use static images. The results of the study showed that students who used the eLearning course with only static images had significantly better test results than the students who used an eLearning course using animations. This post has reinforced that often fancy animations can distract from the content of an eLearning course and in many cases you are better off using static images and in some cases you may be just as effective using a solution as simple as a PDF document.

These posts taught me valuable lessons that contribute to reaching my professional goal of improving my visual design skills. The “5 common visual design mistakes” post taught me how to use graphics that appeal to the learner while the “Could animations hurt learning post” taught me not to over use animations as they can distract the learner from the content. I look forward to learning more about visual design and creating effective eLearning from these blogs.


Renee said...

Animation is often used gratuitously, because people seem to think that's what differentiates the web from a book. I've seen so many courses where you mouse over something and something pops up and it doesn't actually add any context, it's just a way of forcing you to use your mouse. I think that good design principles - delivering information in the most effective way - should do away with that. Well, I hope :)

Tom Kuhlmann said...

Thanks for the mention. While the essence of the animations post is good, I think that the study is a little flawed.

Another consideration is that some animations allow you to extend the real estate of the screen. You don't want to add animations for animation's sake, but they can be effective in the proper context.

Good luck on your course design.

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