Part 2: Design Does Matter

In what environment do you work best? Do you need clean surfaces and good lighting, like me? Do you need silence or do you prefer to work in a crowed café with background noise? Messy work spaceDesk- organizedIf our real world environment impacts our learning, it follows the same would be true on-line.  Whether learning is on-line or face-to-face, media that are cluttered or overloaded with color and irrelevant images can impede the learning process.

Streamlining content, using appropriate backgrounds and font choices, and choosing images that are relevant and professional can make lessons memorable (Nokes,, 2010). Images, including diagrams, are an effective way for learners to understand and recall information. Effective visualizations…”(improve) comprehension, memory, and inference” (Agrawala, et. al, 2011, p.60). Learners (whether formal or informal) are often overwhelmed with information. Well-designed sketches, diagrams, animations, etc. can greatly enhance the effectiveness of training.

With a background in science and education, design elements, such as media selection, can sometimes feel wholly outside my area of expertise. However, an experienced teacher can be invaluable in the process of selecting appropriate images as they may “…be best able to identify images that might be misinterpreted or unfamiliar to the learner group” (Ley, et. al., 2014, p.29). Although research by Ley and Gannon-Cook found that collaboration between designer-researchers did not ensure appropriate graphic selection (2014), it stands to reason that a healthy collaboration among people with different areas of expertise would likely result in appropriate graphics selection more often than with content experts alone. I am interested in learning more about graphic design and believe knowledge of this discipline will help me select images that truly help learners understand and recall content.

When design is begun after a complete analysis of needs, learners, environment and situation along with a task analysis, the design choices will be much easier to make. These decisions should be made with the target learners in mind. Any photographs used should increase learner engagement and interest. This can be accomplished, in part, by making sure people in photographs reflect the learners, in my case, K-12 educators (Nokes, et. al., 2010). A complete analysis is necessary because design choices made must be supported by available technology in order to avoid disengaging and/or frustrating technical difficulties. ADDIE_Model_of_DesignThe analysis and design phases (the A and first D in ADDIE) are important first steps in designing instruction. Instructional design is an iterative process, however, requiring us to revisit of each step of the ADDIE process often. I will continue to refer to my analysis as I design a professional development for  the proficiency-based grading.


Agrawala, M., Li, W., & Berthouzoz, F. (2011). Design principles for visual communication. Communications of the ACM, 54(4), 60-69.

Ley, K., & Gannon-Cook, R. (2014). Vital signs for instructional design. The Quarterly Review of Distance Education, 15(2), 21-34.

Nokes, J., & Sappington, E. (2010). At first sight: Improving your training with good visual design. American Society for Training & Development, 64(8), 31-33. Retrieved March 22, 2016.

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