Using Design to Design Learning. Vikki du Preez and Veronica Barnes [slideshare]

Si no lo puedes explicar con simplicidad, es que no lo entiendes bien.


Hoy traemos a este espacio esta slideshare, Presentation from workshop presented at HELTASA 2013, 27 - 29 November, Pretoria ...  titulada

Using Design to Design Learning


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6 tips for using images in your e-learning material

Best practice pinned on noticeboard

In this ongoing series of posts, kickstarted with our “10 Graphic Design tips for e-learning educators“, we try to provide you with the required know-how for improving the look and feel of your e-learning content. In our last post we talked about the use of color. In this one we’ll be sharing 6 tips for using images and illustrations.

1. Match your illustration to your overall aesthetic

Your e-learning theme has a certain character. Your choice of illustration should reflect and support that character. If, for example, you want to have a children friendly look for your website then use cheeky, colorful images that appeal to kids. If, on the other hand, your theme follows a minimal flat design style, use illustration that sits well with it.

Using a consistent style helps establish your content’s identity (and your branding).

2. Use pictures to tell a story

Illustration is supposed to illustrate (“serve as an example of”), not decorate.

Don’t use pictures as mere decoration or ornamental elements. Use them to tell a story and to clarify what is said in your e-learning content. Ask yourself if adding a specific picture or graphic serves this purpose ― if it doesn’t, leave it out.

That doesn’t mean your illustration should be overly technical or too detailed. Just that it should be clear and relevant to the subject matter. Don’t let decorative and aesthetic preoccupations obscure the core task of communicating a specific message and intent with your choice of imagery. Use illustration to complement your material, not to distract from it.

3. Lies, damn lies, and charts

Charts and graphs are an especially important kind of illustration, and can be essential assets in your e-learning material.

The general guidelines that hold for your image and clip art illustration also hold for charts and graphs. Use them to complement your content and tell a story, keep their style consistent with your theme’s look, etc. But there are also some guidelines that are unique to them.

Keep charts clean. Avoid extraneous elements such as needless gradients, drop shadows, 3D perspectives, etc. Charts should be clear and up to the point.

Sticking with the “up to the point” theme, avoid overloading your charts with data. If you need to show too many data points, consider using a simple table instead of a fancy bar of line chart. Avoid pie charts ― journalists and marketeers love them, but data scientists and statisticians consider them a gimmicky and inefficient type of plot.

4. The internet is not an stock image library

It might be tempting to just use random images off of the internet for your illustration needs. Don’t ― online images are usually copyrighted and using them without permission can get you into legal trouble, especially if you’re using them in a commercial setting. Then, there’s also the aesthetic aspect: using random online images will result in your content illustration lacking a common style and looking unprofessional.

If you can’t afford to hire a professional photographer or illustrator to create original artwork for your content, then the second best option is to buy stock art and pictures from a image stock service such as Stock images are (usually) of higher production standards than random web pictures, and you can buy sets of photos or drawings in the same style, something that will give your content a consistent look. An even cheaper option is clip-art and photo packs that contain thousands of photos on various topics (e.g medical, animals, computers, flowers, etc) that might be appropriate for your content.

If you have to resort to using images off of the internet, there are some places you can find quality material that is either copyright free or offered with a permissive free license. Flickr’s Creative Commons image search is a good place to look for such pictures, as is Wikimedia Commons.

5. Prepare your images appropriately

Getting the right images is just half of the story. You also have to prepare them appropriately for use in your web content.

If, for example, your website theme has specific image placeholders (as most themes do), you’ll have to check their aspect ratios and crop your images to fit in them. Too many webmasters make the mistake of distorting their images, stretching them too thin or too tall in order to make them fit. For a polished look, try to keep widths and heights consistent, and avoid having widely varying image sizes ― it looks arbitrary and unprofessional.

File size also matters. Your 4MB high quality stock photo is not suitable for web use. Use a program like Photoshop to resize and compress them, and keep your page loading times low. Use JPEG compression for photographs and detailed illustrations with subtle gradations, and PNG or GIF for images with more flat colors, such as clip art.

6. Add captions and respect usability guidelines

This one is all too easy to overlook, and all too often, it is overlooked. Take the time and effort to add proper captions to your illustration. Not just “Figure a”, but a proper short description, such as “Illustration of the human retina”.

Properly captioning your content can be tedious, but it will benefit both regular students and people with disabilities that need to use a screen reader. In fact, in a lot of countries, it’s mandatory to cater for the latter, especially if you want to qualify your e-learning material for government use.

Keep in mind that there are several kinds of captions you should fill in. Not just the visible captions below each image, but also the “alt” and “title” HTML attributes. The easy way out is to fill all of those with the same content, but semantically each serves a different purpose. The regular visible caption is meant for a short description of the image. The “alt” attribute is meant to fully describe the image to those who cannot see it (e.g people using a screen reader). Finally, the “title” attribute is meant to contain the title for the image.

The post 6 tips for using images in your e-learning material appeared first on eFront Blog.

A splash of color for your e-learning content


In this ongoing series of posts, kickstarted with our “10 Graphic Design tips for e-learning educators”, we try to provide you with the required know-how for improving the look and feel of your e-learning content. In our last post we talked about typography ― the use of fonts and typesetting for optimal readability. In this post, we’ll be taking a look at color.

Seemingly easy, color for your e-learning content can be surprisingly challenging for web masters to get right, especially if they have had no training in graphic design. It’s something that everybody feels qualified to have an opinion on (in graphic designer circles, few thins are more feared than the client imposing his awful color choices to the designer he hired), but that few have a natural eye for.

Don’t be afraid though. There are certain practical rules and guidelines you can follow (and even the whole science of “color theory” if you want to delve deeper into the subject) that can get you going in no time.

Colors are meant to be combined

No color is an island. You might believe you have found the perfect hue to use in your e-learning site, but you have to think of how it fits with the rest of the colors you’ll use.

Don’t think about individual colors. Think about your palette ― a set of colors that fits well together and is used throughout your content. Here’s were some basic color theory can be helpful, as there are several schemes for picking colors that look nice next to each other (e.g “complementary colors”).

If that all sound Greek to you, there are tools, like Adobe’s online service Kuler, that can automate the whole process, letting you pick a few colors you “must have” and figuring out colors that fit with them for you.

After you’ve developed your palette, stick to it. A small palette creates a stronger visual identity than a larger one. Often, a single color (like IBM’s blue or Coca Cola’s red) can define your whole branding. As for black and white, they are neutral, and you can use them with any other color.

Color affects contrast

As we discussed in the post about typography, contrast is a very important factor for readability. And contrast is produced by the difference in luminance and hue between two colors (or shades of the same color). For example it’s hard to discern a dark blue figure on a dark green background, or yellow text on an orange background.

You want to have a strong contrast between the background and your text color, especially for your longer copy. You can relax that a little for headlines and call-outs, since those are usually set in larger font sizes which makes them easier to read in the first place.

You don’t really have to be creative with your text’s color. In fact it’s better if you don’t. Black text on white background has been used for centuries and works great for print. For the web, consider making the background a little darker (an extremely light shade of gray will do), because an all white page can be too intense to read on a computer screen due to the backlight.

Color conveys information

Colors offer a great way to quickly relay information.

We all know to associate certain colors with certain messages (like the global use of red to mean “warning” or “danger”). That’s color coding; a technique for displaying information by using different colors.

You are not constrained by already defined color associations such as these. You can define your own color coding that applies within your e-learning content. E.g you can mark exercises with blue, important notes with yellow, etc. Or you can use different colors to mark different topics or sections.

That said, you also have to consider color-blind users. Either select colors that they can also distinguish (there are tools that show you how a color-blind person sees a website) or use color-coding as a supplementary way to convey information (e.g, if you mark all beginner exercises with some blue heading, also add a textual label marking them as such).

Color sets the mood

Colors are not just for decoration. They are a powerful way to set the mood and tone of your content.

Especially important in your choice of palette is your target audience. Ever noticed how corporate sites usually have a blue theme, sites for women have pink or pastel hues, sites about the environment or organic food use shades of green or sites for kids use vibrant primary colors? That’s color psychology at work.

Psychologic (and marketing) research has come up with several ways different colors affects our emotions (e.g red conveys excitement, blue conveys competence, etc. Try to use the appropriate colors for your theme and target audience. There are guides you can find online to help you with that, but a quick survey on content and sites with target audiences similar to yours can also help.

The post A splash of color for your e-learning content appeared first on eFront Blog.

The Design Of Interaction For eLearning from Upside Learning

Hoy traemos a este espacio, la siguiente slideshare ....

The Design Of Interaction For eLearning 

by  on Dec 11, 2013

Presentation sheds light on designing meaningful interactions that improve eLearning outcomes. Explore different types of content as defined by Dr. David Merrill and determine which of these content types lend themselves to digital interaction. Also find the Dos & Don’ts of interaction design.
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 Fuente: [ varias ]

BlackBoard Announcing Open Course: Designing an Exemplary Course

Open Open Open ...

Hoy os traemos a este espacio el anuncio de BlackBoard, que dentro de su COURSEsites va a impartir un curso en abierto sobre como diseñar un curso ejemplar online...
Aquí os dejo el anuncio en su web:

We are excited to announce the next course in our CourseSites Open Course Series: Designing an Exemplary Course. The course will run from September 26th – October 17th, 2012. Registration opens Wednesday, September 19th.
Whether you are just getting started or are an advanced online educator, this course will provide you with a framework to help identify and apply best practices for designing engaging online courses.
You will learn from 11 instructors and instructional designers including distinguished Exemplary Course Program (ECP)  Directors and several of the 2012 ECP winners. Using the Blackboard ECP Rubric as a guide, the course will focus on the four critical elements of a course: design, interaction and collaboration, assessment, and learner support.
You will have the opportunity to participate in weekly live, online sessions, learn with peers in focus groups, and  complete optional assignments to aid your course development and improvement. A panel of course design experts will facilitate  each group to provide you with valuable feedback.
We will send you another email next week with information on how to register. You also can access the course link via on September 19th when registration begins.  We look forward to seeing you in the course. (...)
 Open course enrollment will begin September 19th.

Duration: September 26 - October 17 

Las características del curso la tenéis en el siguiente enlace: 
Using the Blackboard Exemplary Course Program (ECP) Rubric as a guide, this open course will provide both theoretical concepts and practical tools for instructors to recognize, organize, and build online courses for both blended learners and online learners.

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