Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Week 5 (March 1 – 7, 2011)

This week we were asked to formally investigate and try to achieve one of the three goals we chose to focus on this semester back in Week 2 (my three goals). The following is the formal task we were assigned and asked to post about on our blog space in Blackboard:

In a blog post, describe your technology goal, the steps you chose to accomplish it and a list of resources you used (including web sites, training or help from a colleague). Also, post an artifact of your choice to demonstrate your new skills.

This is what I came up with:

My goal: Distinguish between effective and ineffective design and presentation in electronic format (e.g., websites, multimedia, charts).

In order to achieve this goal, I chose to use a combination of readings and activities from class (see
References below).

First, I began to identify the characteristics of effective vs. ineffective design and presentation in electronic format. Based on Cognitivist theory, the area covering Perception and Attention is what I decided to base my criteria on (Alessi & Trollip, 2001). Although the first principle in the Universal Design for Learning (UDL) framework (providing multiple means of representation) should also be considered in determining effectiveness, it is somewhat beyond the scope of this evaluation (although some concepts do go hand-in-hand here).

Perception and attention is comprised of three subcategories including ease of perception, position of information and differences/changes.

Ease of perception deals primarily with the basics of presentation considerations including text (font and size, color), background (color), images (size, details), audio and video (volume, clarity, resolution, etc.). This subcategory is also further divided into three sections including choice of mode (e.g. audio or visual), repeatability (whether information can easily be repeated), and pace (speed in which information is presented).

Position of information is mainly either spatial (placement of visual information) or temporal (timing of aural information). An example of a spatial consideration would be placing important information at the center of the screen. A sample temporal consideration would be having instructions play at the beginning of activity (with option to replay).

Differences/changes can actually be thought of as a subset of ease of perception and position of information. It deals with how information presented changes over time. This change in information can either be static (doesn’t change at all; e.g. text, images), dynamic (changes or can be altered; e.g. video, text box inputs) or periodic (changes some times; e.g. background color, headings/fonts).

After identifying my criteria, I proceeded to search for examples of effective vs. ineffective design and presentation. I chose to use two lessons (Adjustable Spinner and The Cell & Cycle Mitosis) we reviewed during the UDL activity last week in class.
Adjustable Spinner is an interactive lesson used to help clarify experimental vs. theoretical probability; I used it for my effective example. The Cell & Cycle Mitosis is a step-by-step lesson explaining the process of cell cycle and mitosis; it acted as my ineffective example.

My complete analysis for these two lessons can be found here: Effective vs. Ineffective Design & Presentation Analysis (
Unfortunately, due to time constraints, I wasn’t able to produce supporting screen shots as initially planned. Hopefully these analyses will be easy enough to follow.

All in all, this exercise gave me a much greater appreciation for the skill involved in designing and presenting electronic formats effectively. So often to do we as instructional designers/developers jump in head first to creating electronic materials without considering the needs of our learners. In the end, we end up wasting both our time (creating something ineffective) and that of our learners (them not receiving the intended benefit). However, if we take the extra time to consider the factors involved in not only attracting learner perception and attention but, more importantly, maintaining it, we can in turn have profound effects on their understanding and thinking.


Alessi, S., & Trollip, S. (2001). Multimedia for learning: Methods and development (2nd Ed.). Needham Heights, MA: Allyn and Bacon.

ISTC541 Class Wiki (Spring 2011) -

Adjustable Spinner -

The Cell Cycle & Mitosis -

Universal Design for Learning Guidelines Version 2.0 -

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