Zeroing in on Eric’s reply of the “interplay of text & images in a novel way” has many variations. One way in particular is communicating sound. You know the sounds: Ouch, Ow, Splat, Zonk, are just a fraction of words used to describe a sound. There are virtually an infinite number of words known and not yet thought of that are whizzing (Hey! There’s another one – Whiz) around our imagination.
Just reading them on a screen wrapped with a fancy interface in an elearning module may…may just not get it. A simple shape with a word inside is exactly what juxtaposition is in this context. You’ve done it a thousand times building a PowerPoint slide.
Scott McCloud in his book Understanding Comics talks about how panel shapes vary considerably, and while differences of shape don’t affect the specific meanings of those panels, they can affect the reading experience. I believe this to be true in the shapes used to invoke sound or emotion and can be effective in elearning.
The two examples below “speak” better than I can explain. Which one communicates or invokes more of a message? Which one has more meaning and supports McCloud’s reading experience?
Can you hear what I’m saying? The one on the left seems to have more of an umpf, yes? (Lookie there…another one – umpf). Just imagine what it could do if it were animated to zoom in fast.
If I knew half of what most folks in this industry forgot, I’d be a best selling author. The world of elearning can be very overwhelming from LMS’s to HRIS systems and from authoring tools to SCORM, not to mention how it all fits in the big scheme of ‘all things HR.’
Keep it simple. Go draw some pictures. They’re fun to make, easier to read, and learners like a bit of schniznoodle in their soup. Go forth and make some sounds in novel ways! *POOF*
NOTE: The images in this post were quickly made in PowerPoint 2007. If you’re not a regular user of some of the more popular graphics editing tools, once you get used to the new look and feel of PowerPoint, it is very powerful and quick.
Great post, Kevin! I think that this folds nicely back into the discussion during the ArticulateLive sessions about story as opposed to pure information. It’s all a matter of finding the right balance between good storytelling techniques and good instructional design. And not letting the SMEs overwhelm our beautiful stories with all of their “important information”. Balance. Always balance.
Jean Marrapodi says
How true. It’s so many of these simple things that we “know” that are industry conventions, but somehow get missed in eLearning. We can look at a design and feel like something’s just not right, but not be able to put our finger on what “it” is. ELearning is the integration of many disciplines and it pays to study many forms of design to make ours communicate better. I hadn’t thought about comics as one to look at before, but there are certainly salient principles here. Thanks for the compass of new direction to consider.
Eric – Agree totally. Having that elusive symmetrical balance is often hard to achieve. Where the instruction may have good balance, the supporting graphics/images are not and where good design/interface has good balance the instruction is not. I fully believe with the right balance of images, color, and a good sequential theme ANY subject can be taught effectively through elearning.
Jean – Your point is right on target…instructional design takes on many disciplines. The overwhelming challenge in today’s industry is the “Instructional Designer” must have skills in all these areas – disciplines. Unfortunately, very few have skills at the mastery level in more than one or two of those disciplines at the same time. Thanks for the post and I hope to spur more of an interest in this direction.