Design Engaging Learning Content

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Current trends in online design focus most creative effort on the upper two or three levels of content, usually administrative. The entry levels in sites such as McDonalds.com.au present the reader with a visually-compelling matrix of links to diverse information about McDonalds, which at the same time represents the underlying fluid and multi-voiced capacity of the Internet's networked nodal structure. Communicatively, the design assists the reader to make the kinds of meaningful connections between blocks of content that is appropriate to the medium—ie non-linear. However, when the reader arrives at the so called ‘real content’ the visual design reverts to a flat presentation of print-like scrolling pages that have none of the excitement or edge with which the upper levels of the site persuade a reader’s engagement. Further this print-like design solution for presenting content suggests to the reader that the content is not as important, exciting or meaningful as the navigation environment in which it is situated; even says that the content is somehow a dead end. Content is neither flat nor limited only unto itself. Potentially, especially with the Internet, all content is in conversation, or relationship, to all other ideas in the meta-verse of ideas—even Maccer’s burgers. Perhaps, with general business sites, this design solution for content is not an issue, but when it comes to online learning, we should avoid any implication in the design that the navigation is the most exciting thing on the site and the learning content is somehow ‘also ran’. This paper looks at ways in which learning content can be conceived, written and presented for online use so that it displays an openness, a flexible and non-linear character and continues the engaging momentum that begins many web experiences such as McDonalds.


Keywords: Visual Meaning Management, Internet Learning, Online Design, Learning Design, Online Communication Design
Stream: Curriculum and Pedagogy; Student Learning, Learner Experiences, Learner Diversity
Presentation Type: Paper Presentation in English
Paper: , , , New Ways of Writing for Engaging Learning Content


Margaret Turner

Lecturer, Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences, University of the Sunshine Coast
Maroochydore, QLD, Australia

Margaret Turner is a visual designer in online media and lectures in EMedia design at University of the Sunshine Coast, Australia. Her focus is design of content for electronic communication including navigation and interactivity design. Her pet hate is over-designed sites that treat the content as if it was a bunch of unimportant and boring words. Computer screens are here now but in our soon tomorrows mobile interfaces, heads up sun glasses and even sockets in our heads will replace them as communicative interfaces. Then design of the content itself, how we break it open to be seen and explored and reflected upon will replace the current obsession with interface decorativity. Her most recent published conference papers include: "Multi-path and networked: Possible futures for academic writing", ASCILITE 2005, Brisbane; "Invite, Engage & Play, Express", OLT05, Queensland University of Technology, Brisbane; "Online teaching: designing lively conversation", Effective Learning and Teaching Conference, 2004, Brisbane.

Ref: L08P0356