OSCQR – Standard #17

OSCQR – Standard #17

Large blocks of information are divided into manageable sections with ample white space around and between the blocks.

Review These Explanations

Reducing content to smaller “chunks” enables learners to make better use of working memory and recall. Organizing course content into manageable sections makes it easier for learners to work through, and process the information (Munyofu et al, 2007).

Increasing visual complexity, including large blocks of text with limited white space, contributes to increased cognitive load – the need for the brain to work harder in order to process information. (Harper et al, 2009). Breaking down larger blocks of text into smaller chunks provides learners with a visual break, and makes it easier for them to work through the course.

Consider the primary mode of delivery (computer or mobile device) when dividing up information into manageable sections. If learners are expected to access materials on mobile devices, be sure that information blocks are readable and scrollable.


Harper, S., Michailidou, E., & Stevens, R. (2009). Toward a definition of visual complexity as an implicit measure of cognitive load. ACM Transactions on Applied Perception, 6(2), 1–18.

Munyofu, M. M., Swain, W. J., Ausman, B. D., Lin, H., Kidwai, K., & Dwyer, F. (2007). The effect of different chunking strategies in complementing animated instruction. Learning, Media & Technology, 32(4), 407-419.

Refresh Your Course with These Ideas

General Suggestions

  • Edit out unnecessary information.
  • Add a “More to Explore” area at the bottom of each learning asset page in your course and add any recommended (not required) materials down the page.
  • Read through the content in your course and take notice of where you think there should be more breaks.
  • Leave out any unnecessary links or graphics that clutter up the visual space.
  • Step back from your screen and look at your course pages. Squint your eyes and see if there is enough white space around the content on the page to balance the weight of the rest of the content on the page.
  • Do a working memory check and read through your content. Note how much you can remember, and what did not stick. Consider chunking the content differently to maximize recall.

Explore More Refreshing Ideas from the Teaching Online Pedagogical Repository (TOPR) at the University of Central Florida (UCF)

This Pedagogical Practice from TOPR explores approaches to organizing and structuring online course content into smaller chunks to benefit learner success.

Chunking Your Course to Sizable Content
How should you organize your online course content? Based on cognitive information processing (CIP) research (Mayer, 2001 & 2005), it is recommended to break down information into smaller, more manageable pieces or “chunks.” (Read more …)

Explore Related Resources

Powell, W. (2003). Essential Design Elements for Successful Online Courses. Journal of Geoscience Education, 51(2), 221-230.

Share What You Know

OSCQR has been developed by a community of online practitioners interested in quality course design. There are numerous opportunities for community members to offer suggestions, donate resources, and help with future development.

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