This aggregated resource comes from Dustin Betonio at Tripwire Magazine. While specifically targetd at web designers, I believe elearning developers and mobile learning developers would also benefit from these ebooks.

A few that I will be adding to my iPad 2 are:

  1. Introduction to Good Usability
  2. Integrating Accessibility Through Design
  3. A Practical Guide To Web Typography
  4. The Elements of Typographic Style Applied to the Web (HTML)
  5. HTML5 Quick Learning Guide

I’m also considering adding these five to course readings for students. I believe the topics of accessibility, usability, and HTML5 will work well in my advanced elearning development class, the web typography books fit within our beginning instructional design classes.

Do you have any good ebooks that you would recommend for elearning or mlearning developers to read?

These are my Jumptags for March 17th through April 13th:

These are my Jumptags for February 9th through March 17th:

If the fun from yesterday with the graphic communications majors at Clemson University wasn’t enough, today, I get to discuss cognitive load theory and web based instruction with graduate students and faculty in the Psychology department here at the university. I’m a little nervous about this talk, because I haven’t presented this before. This is a line of significant research for my colleague and friend Dr. Jongpil Cheon at Texas Tech University. So, I am piggy-backing on his great work.

If any of the students and faculty drop by to take a look or download the slides, feel free to leave a comment below.  I’d love to have your feedback on our research.

Below is an abstract of the presentation and the slides for to go with the talk.

This study proposes a new instrument to measure cognitive load types related to user interface and demonstrates theoretical assumptions about different load types. In reconsidering established cognitive load theory, the inadequacies of the theory are criticized in terms of the adaption of learning efficiency score and distinction of cognitive load types. Since measurement of mental effort does not cover all types of cognitive load, a new way of isolating different loads is required. Previous studies have focused on designing interface to reduce extraneous cognitive load. However, interface may have the potential to enhance germane cognitive load because learners may construct their knowledge schemata with interface layouts.

Guest PostInstructional designers are familiar with the basics of usability testing to improve the design of an instructional unit even while it is still in development. Watching users work through an instructional unit or navigate a Web site for the first time helps uncover the ambiguities underlying what we thought was quite obvious. Poking around the Web, I came across a podcast interview by Jared Spool with author and usability expert Dana Chisnell, Spoolcast: Usability Guerilla Techniques (ignore the introductory music and such, the interview begins at about 2:00). She shares two factors that can take us from ‘good user research’ to ‘great user research’: having a Vision and having a Strategy. As I traversed the web threads further, I found other posts that made comments that extend one or both of these components. So let’s take a brief look at how usability can be improved by having a vision and having a strategy.

Image by JulyJu from Flickr Images at Creative CommonsHaving a Vision

Dana Chisnell says in her interview that usability has to be “more than a spot check on functionality.” To conduct an effective usability study, create a vision for what you want the users to gain and what sort of experience you want them to have during the interaction. Great usability begins with a commitment to creating a great user experience. We have to understand more about the users: who are they and why are they visiting the site or participating in the instructional unit (their needs and goals). In another blog, “User Experience Supports Findability and Usability,” Kim Krause Berg comments similarly about knowing web users, “understanding, in-depth, who web site visitors are is a good place to start.”

Having a Strategy

A great vision is implemented through a great strategy. Three thoughts are offered as part of implementing a strategy: (1) use qualitative data to describe the full user experience, (2) implement usability early and often, and (3) share the usability role with others.

First, some usability studies result in statistical, quantitative reports: the average number of clicks to complete a task, the average duration for completing a task, etc. However, Lane Becker (“90% of All Usability Testing is Useless”—but don’t let the title scare you off) argues that real usability drives modifications through a holistic, qualitative approach: why were the users confused, what were they expecting?

Second, usability data should be gathered early and throughout development to accommodate revisions when they are less costly and more efficient. “Some of the most inspired work I’ve seen has happened on whiteboards in the observation room while testing is going on several feet away” (Becker).

Finally, who does the usability testing is part of the strategy. Chisnel recommends involving the entire design and development team: let every member of the team know first-hand what it is like for the user to interact with the instruction. Becker adds, “Anyone who might have a stake in what’s being tested should be present for at least a part of the process.” And both agree that good usability testing can be performed by those who are involved in the design and development, contrary to some opinions that say that only objective outsiders can perform an unbiased analysis of the user experience.

According to Becker, “it’s time to get your hands dirty.”

Guest blogger: Linda Sadler is a Master’s student in Instructional Design at the University of Memphis. Her particular area of interest is safety training in the general industry setting. In the fall of 2009, she completed the 30-hour General Industry OSHA Course to acquire an overview of the safety environment. As part of a broad context analysis that supports safety training, she is interested in pursuing a quantitative study of the safety culture in Memphis-area high-hazard companies to uncover factors that impede adherence to safety guidelines. Linda is currently the Editorial Assistant for The Southern Journal of Philosophy at the University of Memphis.

Image by JulyJu from Flickr Images at Creative Commons

These are my Jumptags for January 11th through January 12th:

These are my Jumptags for December 14th through December 15th:

These are my Jumptags for November 24th through December 7th:

These are my Jumptags for November 23rd