Well, it’s that time again – back to school! Again for another semester, I am both teacher and student. One of the classes I am taking this fall will focus on instructional design, and our first assignment is to find and discuss two examples of instructional design in the real world. As a teacher, I spend most of my day surrounded by instructional design. From the posters displayed in the classrooms to the directions posted in the bathrooms and hallways, almost anywhere I am in the building, I can find an example of instructional design. We even have a display to inform visitors and interested persons of how their bond money will be used to renovate the building.
But this assignment challenges us to find examples in the “real” world, so off we go! Our new family puppy has managed to chew through not one, but two laptop charger cords requiring a trip to the closest electronics store. I knew I would find some fantastic examples of instructional design in such a place, and I was not disappointed. The first example caught my eye immediately with its three-dimensional miniature examples and use of bright colors.
The display is designed to show the viewer what Hue LED lighting can do. According to the instructions, using the lighting system requires special bulbs, a device which “bridges” them to a wireless router, and a free app with which a user can control the lights. The display also explains the various lighting options – bulbs, downlights, and strips – as well as how the bulbs can be set to any color desired. Unfortunately, the display buttons did not work, so I could not play with the colors and options. Because of this, the takeaway message was not as thorough as what it should have been. Also, I felt that a QR code should have been incorporated into the display, especially near the app download link. I actually turned the corner and saw another display which did contain a QR code, so some companies are embracing the technology. Still, if I entertained more or just had money to blow, I would try this product. I have since perused the product website which contains several videos of the product being used, and I feel comfortable saying I could find all the required equipment and set it up on my own. My next encounter with instructional design also used color but as a way to organize information. I was struck more by how much information could be included without actually having to use words or explainations.
Some major understandings from a previous course I took this past summer were to minimize redundancy in design as well as consider the audience. This smart TV display utilized not only icons for the variety of functions the television possesses as well as to show what services or websites could be used through the television. The icons representing the features could help non-English speakers understand what the television can do, and the small icons representing services and websites were portrayed exactly as one might expect them which also reduces confusion.
As I have recently stepped back into an ESL teaching position and am seeking better ways to help my students, the use of icons to facilitate understanding really stood out to me. I plan to create a website for parents to obtain more information about our school’s program, and using icons would be a great way to help them find what they need more quickly. If the design allows for human interaction, then the interactivity should work correctly, otherwise the learning goals will not be achieved. As instruction becomes more dynamic, designers must assure their final product will stand up to repeated use. Certainly the design principal of “less is more” caused these two displays to stand out above the others. Often, teachers tend to squish as much information into a page or two as possible, but keeping the design simple reduces confusion. Certainly all good advice to take under consideration.