Recently, I attended a webinar about the Tools of Engagement Project (TOEP) developed by The State University of New York (http://suny.edu/toep). The instructional design model for this project is built on discovery learning. Instead of cataloging tools and how to use them in the classroom, the TOEP project flips this model and lists types of assignments used in a classroom. The user can then search on the assignment type and the tools that support it. For instance, “presentations” offers suggestions for implementing this type of assignment, numerous tools to use in a presentation assignment (MSPowerpoint, Prezi, Google Presentations,Haiku Deck, and more), and presentation assignments developed by peers in other colleges and universities. I really like this resource because it is comprehensive, innovative and constantly being updated by peer educators and instructional designers. This project goes into depth with resources, research and exercises for each type of assignment. Badges can be earned as well. Instructors are encouraged to add to the data base for fresh ideas. This is a valuable resource for all instructional designers to add breadth and depth to their repertoire of pedagogical solutions. Below is a screen shot of one of the Presentations pages.
I was reading David Siegel’s article on usability, The Role of Enticing Design on Usability, and it brought to mind the new ELMS Interface Design tool and all of the interest it has generated. Siegel’s article talks about the process of engagement and using it in developing good interfaces. There are five stages to the process of engagement – awareness, discovery, exploration, experimentation, and adoption – and they are not necessarily in this order. The goal, he says, is to remove cognitive obstacles progressing through the stages. Also, he advises the interface developer to avoid being task oriented and seek to nurture curiosity in the user.
Let’s apply this to the new interface and how instructors may use this interface in their course.
This new tool makes it look so simple to add a banner and colors to a page that many instructors want to use it. But it is kind of tricky. There is no “Undo” button. All of the edits must be done in the tool. In addition, instructors are encouraged not to edit their pages in a published course. The tool inspires curiosity; however, there is only one way down the path so it is not forgiving of mistakes. It would be better if designers could undo errors with an “Undo” button. Or, if they could get more prompts as they navigate through the tool. This may inspire more faculty to design an intriguing course homepage, so now let’s talk about how we should advise them to create an interesting, beautiful homepage that encourages curiosity.
Course Homepages are the interface that Siegel talks about in his article. They are task oriented but they should be also encourage students to look around and find out about the topic and the course, ask questions, make it easy to return home. Many times instructors make assumptions about how easy their course is for students to navigate. They can’t understand why students can’t find the syllabus, for instance. This is a trap many people fall into, including manufacturers of appliances, cars, and ATM machines – and myself! I was creating an interface for an organization called “START” with 3 arrow heads underneath pointing to the left side of the page. Underneath this logo, I had an arrow that said “Begin Here”. When I asked my husband to test the interface, he says “where to I begin?” and I didn’t know what he meant.
The bigger challenge is to get students interested in the content and finding out about the course. Infuse their minds with curiosity! It’s discouraging when faculty say they must assign points or students won’t do something. What if something were so cool that students are inspired to find out more. Think about how this can be done in your courses and post your comments below!
The Role of Enticing Design on Usability by David Siegel : enticing_design-pdf
ELMS Interface Design tool: newcanvasui_quickguide_may2016