These are my Jumptags for March 3rd

David Lindenberg

David Lindenberg

We’ve all seen it:  The training material that is a jumbled mess of mismatched graphics, hard-to-read text and no sense of cohesion whatsoever.  What good is the content if the learner needs a decoder ring to decipher it?  Therefore, I offer up my Top 11 List of Style.  Why eleven?  Because eleven is the new ten (actually, I just couldn’t narrow it down).  None of these topics are new, but rather a collection of style principles I adhere to when developing materials.

  1. Font style – Pick two fonts, one for your body text and one for your headers.
  2. Font size – Keep it standard, not too big, not too small.
  3. Graphics – Exercise prudence.  Don’t mix and match (i.e. don’t use a clipart cartoon in one spot and a photograph in another).
  4. Colors – Generally, stick with dark font colors against a light background.
  5. White space – Embrace space.  Make it your friend.  Not everything needs to be covered with text or pictures.
  6. Text blocks – Avoid large chunks of text.  Use bullet points to break the text into more visual-friendly parts.
  7. Alignment – Pick an alignment and stick with it.  Use center align sparingly.
  8. Branding – Put your company and/or department logo on the material.
  9. Consistency – Strive for a consistent look and feel throughout the material.
  10. Template – If there is a chance of reusing the material again for another project, put all of your style options in a blank template.
  11. Style sheet – Create a style sheet for others who may be helping develop the material, or for future reference/reuse.

For a more in-depth explanation of many of these principles, see Robin Williams’ The Non-Designer’s Design Book.

Guest blogger:  David Lindenberg is a practicing instructional designer at Methodist Le Bonheur Healthcare in Memphis, Tennessee.  He is a graduate of the Instructional Design & Technology program at The University of Memphis.

These are my Jumptags for March 2nd

These are my Jumptags for February 26th through February 28th:

  • Small Pieces Loosely Joined for Kids – “Small Pieces Loosely Joined” tries to explain what is truly important about the Web. This kids versions is usedul for grades 6, 7 or 8.
  • RSS Feed for Printables for Kids – Free word search puzzles, coloring pages, and other activities
  • Printables4Kids – Printables for Kids features FREE printable activities for preschool and school age children including word searches, mazes, puzzles, coloring pages, ad libs, word scrambles and other educational worksheets.
  • PQDT Open – PQDT Open provides the full text of open access dissertations and theses free of charge. The authors of these dissertations and theses have opted to publish as open access and make their research available for free on the open Web. Open Access Publis…

In honor of the month of March, Smashing Magazine has released new desktop wallpapers.  There are some pretty cool ones this month— 45 free wallpapers to choose from with themes from baseball, St. Patrick’s Day, Easter and Spring.  I particularly like:

So I encourage you to begin bare-bones-budget spring cleaning by sprucing up your desktop with one of these cool wallpapers.  Funny, though, no one designed one for the Ides of March, Sharon.

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30-hour FamineBeginning tonight, I will be helping to lead our church youth through a 30-hour famine.  This is sponsored by World Vision in an effort to emphasize to youth and adults the poignancy of poverty and famine around the globe.  Norwalk, CT, and Here in Franklin offer two other descriptions of youth participating in the famine.  World Vision reports:

Each day, over 26,000 children under the age of 5 die from preventable diseases such as malnutrition, malaria, diarrhea, and acute respiratory infections. Malnutrition is associated with over half of those deaths.

In particular, tomorrow afternoon I will be leading over 70 youth and adults in a game called TRIBE.  As I worked through the game — rather a series of games, challenges and reflections — I began to think about both the instructional design of the game and the message design of the leader’s guide.  The cyclical nature of game, reflection and whole group sharing seemed to be an effective technique.  Using the word game here is liberal, for sure.  Some are games; some, simulations; some, sort of just challenges.  They are all somewhat fast-paced to meet the audience’s needs, but the opportunities to reflect and debrief align really well with the literature on assessment with serious games and simulations.

Finally, the message design of the leader’s guide is well done and unified, too.  It’s not anything with a spectacularly unique layout.  But the directions in the guide highlight how the graphics used relate to the game and the Indonesian part of the world simulated in the game.  So, the overall game and the leader’s guide toggle back and forth between high fidelity and low fidelity.

I encourage you to take a look at the game and its design. And if you want to know more about TRIBE or the 30-hour Famine or if your community is participating, be sure to leave a comment.

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Anna Clifford

Anna Clifford

by Anna Clifford

Napkins and individual packages of cheese and crackers were handed out to the group of preservice teachers.  The professor asked them to couple with a partner  and make a Cheesy-Crackette!  One partner watched and took notes, while the other made the masterpiece, as instructed. However, there seemed to be some congestion with one group that gained the attention of the entire class.

Aynne explained, “I have never seen one of those things, and I don’t know what to do with it!  I am lost!”

The calming partner chuckled in dismay and stated,  “You have never seen a package of cheese and crackers and you have never experienced the red stick?” Girl, just grab the red stick and smear it on! It is all good! ”

Bewildered eyes cut across the class of preservice teachers in the instructional technology class. “What is a teacher suppose to do? “ asked the professor. There responses included: show her how, draw her a picture, let her figure it out, and give her some directions. “ Look at you!  Let’s give her some step-by-step directions,” concluded the professor.

Discussion continued, as they compared and contrasted their directions and edited and finalized a class JobAid for making a Cheesy-Crackette.

Will it work?  Who should try it? Aynne was selected to follow the JobAid. Her peers  watched as she made her very first Chessy-Crackette.   “It is delicious!” she sounded.

The conversation continued, as the preservice teachers began to close the teaching-learning gap. They agreed the concise JobAid for Aynee and a job aid could be posted on a computer, as needed to close the computer skill’s gap, as well.  In addition, teacher selected videos from YouTube (e.g.,   How to Insert Pictures in Word 2007) or  TeacherTube, (e.g., School House Rock: A noun is a person, place or thing), and  using the Help aids (e.g., Microsoft Office Word Help) within the software, were suggested.

“It just depends on the student and the student’s needs. So is this like …  learner adaptations or differentiated instruction?”  questioned another.

Red sticksThe red stick … waved another awe moment!

Guest blogger:  Anna Clifford is an associate professor in the School of Education at Union University.   She works extensively with preservice teachers in early childhood education, as well as, instructional technology.  Her background in Montessori education has shaped her philosophy.  Her research and interest focus on technology integration in the PreK-8 teaching-learning environment, particularly, its impact on the professional growth of teachers and preservice teachers.  She works along the side of colleagues and preservice teachers, planning and implementing effective technology integration into the current content curriculum. She completed her EdD in Instructional Design and Technology from The University of Memphis, where she is an adjunct professor.

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These are my Jumptags for February 24th through February 25th:

Dr. Robert M. Branch

Robert M. Branch

by Robert M. Branch

Visual literacy deserves a syntax and grammar distinct from the parameters that define verbal literacy, such as syntax and grammar. Ergo, a paradox occurs when we use verbal language to define visual literacy.

Verbal literacy is most commonly defined as the ability to read and write, and a means of interpreting data and information into knowledge and ideas. A verbally literate person understands spellings, grammar, and syntax for a chosen language. Educators tend to associate verbal literacy with the fundamental success of a student in the classroom, and the success of an ordinary citizen to function in society. However, visual literacy is also necessary for the success of an ordinary citizen to function in society.

There have been many published definitions of visual literacy since Debes (1970) defined visual literacy as “a group of vision-competencies a human being can develop by seeing and at the same time having and integrating other sensory experiences” (p. 27). Rezabek (1999) noted that visual literacy could also be defined as the ability to accurately interpret and create messages (mostly in text form) that are transmitted through the sense of sight. I prefer my definition (Branch, 2000) of visual literacy as “the understanding of messages communicated through frames of space that utilize objects, images, and time, and their juxtaposition” (p. 383).

While there are similarities between verbal literacy and visual literacy, educational research suggests that visual literacy is informally introduced when an individual is becoming verbally literate. Thus, visual literacy has emerged as a domain of knowledge worthy of its own definition, independent of verbal literacy language, however, systematic inquiry about ways images can be formed to construct a common visual language, independent of verbal language, remains unformed. The challenge now is to reconcile the paradox of using verbal language to define visual literacy.

Branch, R.  (2000).  A taxonomy of visual literacy.  In A. W. Pailliotet, & P. B. Mosenthal (Eds.), Advances in reading/language research Volume 7: Reconceptualizing literacy in the media age.  (pp. 377-402).
Debes, J. L.  (1970).  The loom of visual literacy: An overview, 1970.  First National Conference on Visual Literacy (p. 16).  New York: Pitman.
Rezabek, L. L.  (2005).  Why visual literacy: Consciousness and convention.  TechTrends: Linking Research & Practice to Improve Learning, 49, 19-20.

Guest blogger: Dr. Robert M. Branch currently serves as a Professor and Interim Department Head for the Department of Educational Psychology and Instructional Technology at The University of Georgia. His teaching emphasizes student-centered learning while his research focuses on diagramming complex conceptual relations. He is a member of the Association for Educational Communications and Technology (AECT), American Educational Research Association (AERA), International Visual Literacy Association (IVLA), International Society for Performance and Instruction (ISPI). Rob’s publications include the Educational Technology and Media Technology Yearbook, a Survey of Instructional Development Models, and Taxonomy of Visual Literacy.

These are my Jumptags for February 20th through February 23rd:

  • 10 Principles Of Effective Web Design – Usability and the utility, not the visual design, determine the success or failure of a web-site. Since the visitor of the page is the only person who clicks the mouse and therefore decides everything, user-centric
  • 10 Useful Techniques To Improve Your User Interface Designs – Web design consists, for the most part, of interface design. There are many techniques involved in crafting beautiful and functional interfaces. Here's my collection of 10 that I think you'll find useful
  • Aviary – Raven – Use Raven to create fully scalable vector art appropriate for logos or tee shirt designs. You won't find a similar tool on the web.
  • F-Shaped Pattern For Reading Web Content – Eyetracking visualizations show that users often read Web pages in an F-shaped pattern: two horizontal stripes followed by a vertical stripe.