Blended Learning Toolkit

A benjanefitness.com resource for designing blended learning resources

Design Principles & Tricks

Good design, by it's nature often goes unnoticed. It's when printed copy or online content is poorly designed that it gets noticed mainly because it interferes with the reader's flow and engagement with the content.

This page contains some thoughts, tips and tricks on design of learning content.

Design Principles

  • Quality of content is key however the way it is presented and structured will influence the way in which student's engage with that content. Better structure and design will improve engagement.

  • Think, "what would this look like if it was the first time I saw it". Can the user navigate the content without being in a lecture or sat beside you.

  • Make sure the most important content on the page is the clearest, most obvious content.

  • Content, engagement, connection - It's great to have a lecture or reading to share but where are we asking students to engage with this content, to be assessed to see how much has sunk in or to take key principles and re-apply them in another context. That's engagement. Connection is the planning for the times where they will connect with other students or staff to discuss or use these new concepts (lectures, tutorials, small group work).

  • Present the content in digestable chunks - Most lectures can be broken down into smaller sub-sections. This should be considered when creating blended learning resources; students may want or need to complete them in several visits.

  • Plan efficiently - many of these smaller chunks of learning can often be re-purposed to use in other modules or courses. If this is the case, avoid making reference to the module unless necessary and think about re-using or re-visiting content and tasks in more than one module.

Quantity on Each Page

If you've seen the Key Principles page of this toolbox, you'll have seen how I have approached the presentation of information on a VLE (I use Moodle). Previously, I've always used the VLE as a depository for content that supplements my in-person lectures. A move to Blended Leaning really needs a much stronger narrative whereby a student can click the section for this week and it will tell it's own story through text, video, audio and imagery. I have a presence within it, but it tells it's own story. Part of this thinking is to have the right amount of content on each page or screen that is being viewed. In short, I want to try and avoid the scroll of death (hilariously, this page is not the best example!). See more here https://moodle.org/mod/forum/discuss.php?d=336418

One part of my new approach is making use of the "Books" function in Moodle. It's really poorly named and suggests that the user should be adding lots of text and creating a manual that will support a whole module or even course. It suggests that it is not an efficient way of producing teaching and learning resources when in fact it can be a great way of scaffolding learning. "Chapters" are also poorly named whereas they are really just a page that does not necessarily need much text.

Use the Book as a scaffold for a min-block of learning (e.g. a week, or two) and use it to embed resources you already have. Think of chapters as pages and try to keep each one to not more than a screen's worth of information (e.g. intro/context text, embedded object like slideset and then action text or further reading).

Colour

A small amount of time spent thinking about the colour's used in presentations and slides can make a big difference to the user's experience. Simple is often best, using help to find the best combinations can help and keeping eyes peeled for themes that appeal to you and then re-purposing them can work.

Color Theory for Presentations: How to Choose the Perfect Colors for Your Designs - https://visme.co/blog/how-to-choose-a-color-scheme/

Get help from Adobe Colour https://color.adobe.com/create/color-wheel

Which colours work together? https://www.designwizard.com/blog/design-trends/colour-combination

A really helpful tool is this Eye Dropper extension that can be added to your chrome browser. This can sit on the browser ribbon and whenever you want to repeat a colour that is already present on a presentation, or in a picture you can choose "pick color from website" and then hover over the colour to find the code that can then be used in your own design.

Alignment

Alignment of objects and text in a space can help to make it more readily accessible or more taxing to engage with. In Moodle Books most images and embedded elements look much better when centred. This gives them a more prominent aspect when first laying eyes on the page and emphasises that they are worth engaging with.

How to centre a tweet

Font

Using typography in presentations https://visualhackers.com/blog/using-typography-in-presentations/

Google Fonts is a great tool for finding inspiration and in particular in has a feature that suggests pairings of fonts that look good together - https://fonts.google.com/

Consider using the Open Dyslexia font where possible - Click here to download it. For others, the use of a Sans Serif font, such as Arial (12-14pt), is a good choice, as is a background colour to avoid ‘black and white‘ text.

Designing Slides

There are some great templates around. e.g. try https://slidesgo.com/

Further Resources

See the "Images" page of the toolbox.

Syllabus design does not always have to be black on white text

Tableau Public has some inspiring graphics on it https://public.tableau.com/en-gb/gallery/?tab=viz-of-the-day&type=viz-of-the-day