Tuesday, November 4, 2014

Aesthetically Challenged

I am designing a hybrid online course while also deciding which color to have my kitchen cabinets painted. In both regard I am feeling inadequate in my abilities to create things that are attractive and pleasing to the eye. Luckily, the painting company I hired has offered a consultation with an interior designer. As for the online course I am referring to Interface Design for Learning by Dorian Peters and The Online Teaching Survival Guide by Boettcher and Conrad. Since aesthetics isn't always a strength of mine I will take all the help I can get.

They way information is presented and the design/ layout of online learning influences me as a learner so I can only assume it affects my students. Peters in Interface Design for Learning has a whole chapter devoted to the aesthetics. (Pg. 75-115) He even states, “The relationship between interface attractiveness and improved usability is known as the aesthetics-usability effect” (pg. 77) Yes, there is a term for what I am trying to achieve!

I am designing an online course for 4th grade students. I am trying to keep each screen simple enough for the students to focus on the core content but interesting enough to stay engaged. I am trying to employ color as it, “has shown to help learners understand and remember, to increase engagement, and enhance effectiveness of visuals” but it also can, “depress learning when overused” (Peters, pg. 82) I am also trying to organize the material on the page so that there is a hierarchy to the learning and the students don’t get distracted by superfluous information, while giving credit to the correct sources. This is more of a delicate balance then what I have previously thought.

While looking for various games to add to my online course I have found quite a few educational game sites that have felt aesthetically overwhelming. Some sites presented a great quantity of information about how to play the game and others had so many visuals that I had a hard time distinguishing a course of action. I am wondering if this is the way gaming sites are constructed or do I feel this way because I am not 10 years old. Are kids able to take in a rapid amount of visuals these days that I am not accustomed to? Is this a strategy I am not understanding that I should be incorporating into my course?