Design Engaging Learning Content
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
Lecturer, Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences, University of the Sunshine Coast