Week 14 — Gestalt

April 20, 2011 at 3:00 am (ED TECH 506) (, , , )

Okay, I will admit it, I was really not looking forward to this week when I saw we were being introduced to Gestalt. It just sounds intimidating. In the end, it was funny to read the chapter and notice how gestalt basically is integration of much of the other chapters we read this semester, which, of course, explains the name of the lesson on the course site. The piece that jumped out to me the most, and which I tried to address in my deliverable for the assignment, was the idea of having clear sections on a Web page for certain types of information. There is something common sensical about user interface and Web design; however, at the same time, it is easy to over do things. Smart, consistent placement is a clear advantage to all learners/users of a Web page. As our final projects are to be built using Web pages, and since I was focusing on creating lessons for teachers, targeting that design this week made sense.

In terms of my Twitter posting for gestalt, I focused on much the same aspect, but with a printed page spread from a guitar and piano chord practice/instructional book. The design includes locator tabs to tell what key is being viewed, guitar figner placement on the left-hand page, and piano placement on the right-hand page. The consistent, repetitive format did the trick and also made it easy to know where to look each time.

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Week 13 — White Space

April 13, 2011 at 1:33 am (ED TECH 506) (, , , , )

As I mentioned in my assignment posting this week, the concept of white space is very challenging for me. I tend to prefer words and packing space pretty tightly. The built in spacing off ends of sentences, paragraphs, and indents are the only white space that I feel I need in writing. I am not intimidated by dense pages, but completely understand that this makes me an anomaly. Many others will be put off by dense text blocks, and dense images are no different. You wouldn’t want to lose your learner simply because the image was so confusing that they just couldnn’t understand what they were looking at.

My treatment of white space focused on my student journal pages cover sheet. This is a page that is used to identify the type of content the students are developing, but, also, hopefully, my approach added a little interest in the way the page is set up. Obviously, the cover will not, by itself, make students want to journal, but maybe it will make it a little less like work. It definitely was a challenge for me to approach the white space project, but I feel happy with my final composition.

As for my twitter post this week, I chose a card given to us by our dealership when we recently purchased a new vehicle. There are a couple different uses of white space within one document, and they clearly took asymmetry to heart in adding images and text to create balance and draw the eye to the right areas. I can even see some of the gestalt concepts in place that I have been reading about for Week 14’s assignment.

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Week 12 — Organization

April 7, 2011 at 3:44 am (ED TECH 506) (, , , )

Organization as a principle is interesting, as it is really a focus of any good image, but wasn’t introduced until later in the course. Organization does not mean plain, but this principle really has a great deal of “less is more” quality to it. At the same time, we have to continue to ensure that we are using colors, shapes, depths, and all our other learnings in each image. That, of course, is the major challenge!

As for my work this week, I completed a very simple blackline master/printable worksheet to support my unit. So, my choice was really a very simple, segmented worksheet that conveyed the questions in a reasonable, workable manner. I tried to keep group content, create headings, number questions, and so on to keep the page clean and child friendly. Since I focused on organization using a black and white page, I wanted to incorporate something a little more interesting, so I created a grayscale version of my word art for inclined planes and included that in the activity sheet header; not to distract, but to create that link to the other materials.

My Twitter posting intentionally included a simple image, but one with a little color to help organize. This rule sheet for my pre-reading son needed to have clear demarcation between rules, and numbers, so we could practice and learn. Above all, though, we needed him to stop hitting all the time, so that rule appeared with a large, red star and red text with underlines to draw the focus at the end of the list to an important addition.

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Week 10 — Color and Depth

March 28, 2011 at 2:52 am (ED TECH 506) (, , , , , )

The ideas of color and depth are very important, this is clear. How many times have I seen or been guilty of overcrowding a page for no apparent reason? Layers upon layers and color upon color definitely do not always serve a great purpose. At the same time, I am also as guilty as anyone of being drawn to the attractive and interesting over the bland and simple when reading, surfing the Web, learning, etc. So, wherein lies the balance? That, of course, is the trick, and one that I am not always cognizant of when building Web resources or other classroom resources.

The idea of really focusing attention on the right place and communicating information in the most efficient manner are keys to using color and depth correctly. There are simply facets of the larger ideas we have been studying this semester, but very important ones. Thankfully, I have access to Adobe’s Kuler tool, otherwise I would have no chance to approaching the color question very well. Hopefully, I will be able to take some of these lessons forward with me throughout this semester and future courses.

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Week 9 Selection Principle

March 22, 2011 at 12:31 am (ED TECH 506) (, , , )

The assignment for this week was challenging for me to complete. I wasn’t sure what graphic to use to really approach the selection principle, and, in the end, I am not convinced that my graphic truly shows the ideas of the principle. I did try to use size, shape, and color to create contrast and delineate a hierarchy within my materials. The idea was to show that I was paying attention to the importance of focusing attention on underlying concepts without distracting from the goals of graphic. I do think I achieved this to some level, although that is not really for me to judge, in the end.

As for going out and finding a graphic for the Twitter posting, that was simpler. I was looking at enough copies of brackets for the men’s NCAA basketball tournament that it only took me a few minutes to think of that as my example. In the end, I do feel like I understand the selection principle, but I also feel that I am beginning to truly press the limits of my creativity and artistic ability with the most recent assignments.

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Week 8 — CARP

March 15, 2011 at 4:36 am (ED TECH 506) (, , , , , , , )

Contrast, alignment, repetition, and proximity are clearly important actions for creating solid instructional graphics. While I feel I have tried to include elements of all these in most of what we have done in the course thus far, it was interesting to have to really focus on the actions. As far as the assignment went, I initially thought I had a great piece to create with my message pulley system instructions. However, as I started to create my document, I quickly began to struggle with the product. In the end, I had to reach back to MS Word for my tables, which is not ideal, but it is the tool I am most capable with, so that is where I went. I did play with the wood grain texture and other textures in creating my model of the pulley system, which has expanded my use of the Fireworks tool set, though, so this did offer some growth there, not just MS Word practice.

At the same time, I found a great example for my Twitter posting for how strong design can be great, but sometimes you lose part of the message. I posted an advertisement I received from Pizza Hut. Only, the only reason I knew it was Pizza Hut was because I know their product. Without that knowledge, I would never have known who was advertising their pizza and other Italian foods. The design was clean, and incorporated aspects of CARP, but the aesthetics were worthless without the title of the company appearing on the page!

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Week 7 — ACE it with PAT

March 8, 2011 at 2:54 am (ED TECH 506) (, , , , , , )

The ACE model (Analyze, Create, Evaluate) builds off of the ADDIE instructional design model, which I thankfully experienced in a previous course at BSU. Having the foundation in ADDIE certainly made this week’s reading and assignment less intimidating. In general, ACE has the feeling of being almost common sense in a way, but, having worked in publishing for so many years, I know first hand how much harder it is to create quality content and graphics than it first seems. I had the same feeling this week as I always do when working through assignments for this class or creating visual materials for my job-related development activities–I found it really hard to think through the design as expressed in the model and tools represented by ACE and PAT.

I can often see the end product, but I have a terrible time getting there. For instance, I wanted to create a Glog for the students using some graphics I had and some new multimedia elements, but I struggled to execute on this vision. I still think the idea was right, but my Glog was less interesting overall than I had hoped. On the positive side, I had already made great strides on this week’s assignment last week with my lesson map for teachers, without evening knowing that I was doing that! For that assignment I went through all three of the keys for ACE, coming up with a gear motif that definitely fit with my content and concept.

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Week 6 — Shapes

February 28, 2011 at 1:32 am (ED TECH 506) (, , , )

This week’s focus was on shapes and how they carry more meaning and instructional value than we often think of for them. I had no trouble finding an image to microblog, as there are shapes everywhere. In the end, I went with a sign that gave directions through drawings with no text. Both shape and univeral design were present in the graphic. As for the visual that would be added to the final project, here I had more trouble deciding where to go. My initial thought was to build a lesson map for teachers to follow, using gears and text to tie all the lessons together. Luckily, I found a free set of paint brushes that supported the development of the teeth for the gears. That would have been challenging otherwise. However, I did not feel that the lesson map was enough for the assignment, so I added two simple shape designs for my final project that will be encountered by students. For this, I build an image of how both wedges and screws involve the use of inclined planes, demonstrating how the simple machines really are linked together in many ways.

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Week 5 Reflection

February 20, 2011 at 3:04 am (ED TECH 506) (, , , , , )

This week’s assignments focused on reading Chapter 3 from our text, starting our Twitter (micro-blogging) activities, and beginning our design journal (blogging). Chapter 3 of our text focused on research supporting visual design work, with a great deal of discussion of brain/memory research and cognitive load theory. I often find brain research both interesting and intimidating at the same time, and this chapter was no exception. The gist, as best I can tell, is to keep the design of text and graphics clean and not overworked, in order to avoid overwhelming the target recipient.

As for the blogging and micro-blogging, I have previously completed blogging activiteis, but I have limited experience with Twitter. I have had an account and have followed a variety of posters for a few months, but have not pursued any followers. I look forward to trying out this technology tool.

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