Design guidelines for effective e-learning materials
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Paul Burt
MA design for digital media
University of Portsmouth
Industrial study and research

This site constitutes the ‘industrial study and research’ project submission by Paul Burt for the final stage of the ‘Design for Digital Media’ masters degree at University of Portsmouth. The site — in the form of a knowledge base which includes an extensive literature and web review, a questionnaire-based survey, a report of findings and a set of design guidelines — is intended to act as a platform for the dissemination of the research undertaken.

The full project proposal is available using the ‘project’ menu but the abstract below is intended to give an overview of the project aims by defining its parameters, boundaries and by giving clarification of the author’s interpretation of the design headings applied.

Abstract back to topback to top

E-learning is a term that is used to describe the broad range of ways that information and communications technologies (icts) are used to support and facilitate learning.

Design, in its most general sense, is accepted as being a key factor in the success or failure of many commercial enterprises and the profile of design and designers has never been higher.

Today e-learning forms a major focus for investment and development within all sectors of education and, although it is difficult to obtain accurate statistics regarding e-learning deployment and activity, it is clearly evident that the use of e-learning is considered by many educators to be vital for the future of education.

This project will seek from teachers, designers, and developers involved in e-learning an overview of their awareness, opinions and experience relating to the following aspects of materials design:

  • Visual style
    the visual appearance of the materials including the use of type and colour and the scale, consistency and composition of the elements on the screen
  • Usability
    the ease and speed with which targeted users can achieve the goals that the designer of the materials had intended, the level of intuitiveness and clarity to any interaction or interface that may be present
  • Accessibility
    the extent to which anyone, regardless of any disability, can effectively use a website via any web browsing technology including specialist assistive technologies (e.g. ‘screen readers’)

From these responses a set of design guidelines will be formulated which will aim to function as a resource for anyone involved in the production of e-learning materials.

It is important to note that the parameters of this project are limited to encompass only issues of ‘materials design’ (read ‘content design’) and the project does not attempt to address issues of course design / pedagogical intent. Furthermore the scope of this project is limited to the (UK) further and higher education sectors from which the data has been obtained.

About the author back to topback to top

Paul Burt began his education career working in media support roles within both further and higher education contexts. Developing a parallel professional profile as a graphic designer led to a move to full-time teaching of print and multimedia design at level three and four (undergraduate). Recently Paul has completed a P.G.C.E. in post-compulsory education. In August 2003 Paul commenced employment at the University of Surrey in the post of ‘E-learning Developer’.

Contact back to topback to top

Paul would welcome any comments regarding this project: contact me

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