Tag: design & layout

OSCQR – Standard #18

OSCQR – Standard #18

There is enough contrast between text and background for the content to be easily viewed.

Review These Explanations

Low contrast between text and background on computer screens and mobile devices can decrease readability and inhibit learner success in an online course. (Mayer, 2014). Simply put, if learners are not able to easily read the course content, they may not succeed.

Low contrast leads to increased visual complexity which makes it harder for the brain to process information (Harper & Michailidou, 2009).

Be mindful of the devices that learners will use to access the online course, and the font colors that you choose to incorporate on any page. Empirical evidence shows that dark colored text on neutral light backgrounds work best. (Duebel, 2003)

References:

Deubel, P. (2003). An investigation of behaviorist and cognitive approaches to instructional multimedia design. Journal of Educational Multimedia and Hypermedia, 12(1), 63-90.

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.

Refresh Your Course with These Ideas

General Suggestions

  • Refrain from changing the color of text in your course, unless you are sure that the colors you choose have a high enough contrast and are not distracting.
  • Use an online accessibility checker for recommendations on your selected text colors.
  • Be consistent. If you change the color of a heading, for example, be sure to reflect that in other headings in your course.
  • Avoid using multiple colored text on one page, unless you intentionally want to highlight something.
  • Remember that some learners are color blind. Sticking to very dark greys and black will be your safest bet.
  • Changing the color of links on a page may confuse learners. Be sure that link colors are consistent throughout the course.

Explore Related Resources

Kelly, R. r. (2012). Course Page Design Tips. Online Classroom, 12(6), 2-3

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.

Discuss this standard in the comments section at the bottom of this page.

Contribute your own ideas or refresh resources by filling out the OSCQR Examples Contribution Form.

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.

References:

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.

Discuss this standard in the comments section at the bottom of this page.

Contribute your own ideas or refresh resources by filling out the OSCQR Examples Contribution Form.

OSCQR – Standard #16

OSCQR – Standard #16

A logical, consistent, and uncluttered layout is established. The course is easy to navigate (consistent color scheme and icon layout, related content organized together, self-evident titles).

Review These Explanations

The online course should be designed so that learners can easily navigate and progress through a logical sequence and pace. This is achieved through consistency in layout and delivery of information types in regular order within learning modules.

Organization is one of the most important parts of an online course, and complicated course layout and poor navigation links contribute directly to learner confusion and a poor learning experience overall. (Bristol and Zerwekh, 2011)

The key factor in organization of an online course is consistency — from the overall color scheme and page design to the layout and structure of learning modules, assignments, and rubrics. Redundancy (the same documents appearing in several locations) is favored, as such repetition helps learners navigate easily to relevant information without having to search extensively.

By consistently sequencing online course overviews, content, learning activities, interactions, learners can routinely access what they need within each module, and anticipate where to find new course materials.

Titles and headings that link to learning content, activity, and assessments should detail specifically what the learners will access, including name and file type (if applicable).

References:

Bristol, T. J., & Zerwekh, J. (2011). Essentials of e-learning for nurse educators. Philadelphia, PA: F. A. Davis

Refresh Your Course with These Ideas

General Suggestions

  • Create a logical consistent modular course structure.
  • Create sequential modules that include meaningful headings that reflect the subject matter covered.
  • Download or create a graphic icon set that you can use to guide learners about learning asset types. Assignments can be depicted by a check-mark icon, for example, and discussions by a conversation icon. Use these consistently throughout the course.
  • Create your first module and review it with a campus instructional designer or experienced online instructor. Then use this module as a template to create the other modules in your course.
  • Create a course design style checklist to keep track of consistent styles and content characteristics in your course. If you use a standard style header in one module, this will help you carry the style through to other modules.

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

These Pedagogical Practices from TOPR explore approaches to organizing and structuring online course content to benefit learner success.

Applying Motivational Design Principles to Create Engaging Online Modules
In a classroom setting, levels of learner engagement vary widely, but instructors can adjust the lesson based on the perceived level of learner engagement. However, in an online environment, instructors cannot spontaneously prompt learners to motivate their engagement. When developing asynchronous modules, using a motivational design model and appropriate technologies allows one to replicate a dynamic, active learning classroom environment. (Read more …)
Create Modules to Organize and Present Content and Learning Activities
The first step in developing an instructional strategy is to identify a teaching sequence and manageable groupings of content (Dick, Carey, & Carey. 2005). One way to sequence and group content in your online course is to create modules. A module is a unit or section of material within your course that organizes and presents content and outlines the learning activities and assessments for learners over a certain period of time. (Read more …)

Explore Related Resources

A Template for Consistent and Effective Online Course Design
Effective Practice from the Online Learning Consortium (OLC)
The University of West Florida (UWF) Academic Technology Center (ATC) developed an online course design template based on the Quality Matters (QM) standards that models a recommended online course structure. The template provides faculty with a straightforward starting point for online course design and a consistent framework based upon nationally recognized quality standards.
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.

Discuss this standard in the comments section at the bottom of this page.

Contribute your own ideas or refresh resources by filling out the OSCQR Examples Contribution Form.