I chose to look at the IRIS project because the description on the project portfolio page looked interesting.
"IRIS is a web site that presents case-based teaching modules that cover the use of remote sensing techniques for the identification and monitoring of environmental change with critical applications to solving problems in climate, health, and disaster management."
Once I got to the site, I was mostly confused. I understand that without an instructor providing guidance and context it might be hard to follow (the people that run the project state that these are used by them in instructional settings). I still don't quite understand the organization of material. Perhaps the most annoying thing is that on the front page there is a message saying to "watch the screencast tutorial to get started" but the screencast is over 45 minutes long!
If anything, from an intentional standpoint the site hits nearly every aspect of hypermedia design we looked at in this course: web page design, css, video, images, interactive elements. This particular site, though, does not seem to be able to achieve any teaching potential without the aid of an instructor. Or, maybe I should just watch the 45 minute video.
I am using some examples from Fusion Charts
, a site with open source resources for creating flash-animated graphs. I like the bar graphs because the animations make sense, especailly when showing growth and quantity.I dislike the line graphs because the way the graph gets drawn does not really represent the change over time. If you click on one of the examples. you'll see that the animation looks nice, but does not really make any sense or make the argument more persuasive.Check out some of their examples and decide which graphs a static image would make more sense than the animation that has been provided.
I like that this instructional video takes a very complicated combination of physical movements and breaks it down to its smallest parts. The text, narration, and video elements work well together. I also like the occasional arrow annotations. I also appreciate the background music and the fact that the video is so short. While it feels rushed at points, it is very easy to pause and rewind and go back so I am ok with that.
The embedding may not be allowed so click the "Watch on YouTube" link or just click here
. I have not yet tried these instructions myself, but I think I can do it!
I actually am kind of tired of videos with text statistics, cutesy graphics, and dramatic music. However, I think there is an interesting learning opportunity if students are guided to think about the way messages are presented in multimedia formats. You can take pretty mundane facts and make them seem far more important than they actually are with some creative editing. Below is a quick video made with some random statistics I found on some websites (not verified at all!). This might be a fun activity for students to see how they can convey different messages simply by changing the way that information is
BBC developed a website
to accompany a documentary called 'Walking with Cavemen.' Within this rich set of resources is an area called 'Cavemen Facts.' I like the grid and icon structure of the root menu. When you click on a link or image, a window pops up with more information about the particular species. Within the pop up are additional media resources including audio and video and the ability to look at different images of the species.
Another thing that I really like is that the root page stays open behind the pop up, and the pop up window is small enough to let you know that the original menu is still just one click away. I think I would like to organize my own course project page in a similar way, with a root level menu and then a next level pop up that contains links to more specific resources.
A podcast that I am a currently following is "Appy Hours 4 U
," a show dedicated to exploring apps for education. The production quality is slightly low (not the content), and when thinking about something as visual as an iPad it can be a disjointed experience if you don't look at the apps yourself while listening. I do like that this content is being produced by educators purely out of their desire to share information and ideas.
NPR's popular Wait Wait...Don't Tell Me! radio program has a podcast/rss feed
available for digital downloads of the broadcasted program each week. While it sits in between entertainment and education, I find that I learn the most about current events, history, and random facts via this podcast more than any other audio-only outlet.
Good Visual Design - NY Times via Chrome Browser
NY Times Chrome site in "Overview" view
You can have an enhanced experience visiting the NY Times website using the Google Chrome browser. If you go to http://www.nytimes.com/chrome
, you will be presented with a very elegant layout of text and images on the screen. Using a selection of layouts, a user can taylor how the news is presented. The thumbnails themselves serve as a representation (or preview) of what the actual layout will look like if it is chosen. Below is an image of the "Gallery View" which only shows images from articles, but if you roll over the image you get the headline (and clicking brings up the full text). I think that the designers of this site have put a lot of thought into how the information is organized visually and how the layout, graphics, and images represent the hierarchical and informational structure of the news.
NY Times Chrome site in Gallery View
Poor Visual Design - The Drudge Report
The Drudge Report home page
The Drudge Report
is one of the most poorly designed news sites I have ever encountered. The page layout conveys no hierarchical structure, and images are used in seemingly random form. One of the worst things about the site is that an advertisement is placed at the top center of the page, and the actual site name is placed below an article heading. While the images that are from news items do accurately represent an article link that may be located above or below the picture, the position of the photos on the page do not help readers make any sense of how information is presented on the page as a whole.
I think it would be interesting to take a chapter from a work of fiction and redesign it as hypertext. For example, take an early chapter from the first Harry Potter book (Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone). Following the seven books, it is fair to say that the fictional world created by the author has a clear and rich hierarchy of characters, settings, and plots. Traditionally, one might need to read all seven books to have a full understanding of the character Hagrid. But structured as hypertext, one reading an early chapter might decide to investigate more about Hagrid and thus click on a link that leads to information about Hagrid's history (which does get revealed in chunks throughout the book series).
Lego Hagrid (photo by Rico-san via Flickr)
Within that sub-history, there might be links then contained to information about the various beasts which Hagrid enjoys taking care of. This is more information that is revealed at various points in the series. It is not information that is supplemental or provided after the fact.
I wonder, though, if the success of the fiction comes from the skill of the author to create a compelling linear text. The conclusion may not have been as gripping if readers arrived at it having taken diverse paths.
Good Example - popurls.com
is a news mega-aggregation site where the most shared items from popular news and social media sites are categorized and listed.
Screen shot from www.popurls.com taken on Sept 13, 2011
There is some nodal organization: information sources are the categories and the most frequently shared stories (videos, text, images) are the items contained within. There is no script or order for which links I follow, though clicking on any one story usually leads to my finding a new cluster of stories to check out. Though clicking on a link generally opens a new window that navigates out of popurl's domain, I often find myself going back to the popurls site when I am ready to start down a new path of link clicking and reading. That to me is an indicator of good hypermedia design.
Bad Example - Buying a Car Webquest
I feel bad criticizing this teacher's attempt
from 2004-2005 to create a webquest. Creating "webquests" for students became very popular as web-publishing became more accessible to teachers. However, as you will see on the page that though the teacher provides links to other sites within the organization of the activity, students would have to progress through in a very linear way. If the main goal is to buy a car, then a better way to have presented this information may have been to create categories and links and then let students attempt to come up with a proposal for how they would buy the car. While the scaffolding that was presented is helpful, I believe that similar support can be provided in a less linear way.
I could consider myself to be a digital native only because I grew up with computers and video games. However, I think an important distinction needs to be made between my digital native-ness, and young people today who have grown up only knowing a networked and connected world. I therefore suggest a third category of "Digital Naturalized Citizens" who are not necessarily natives yet have assimilated very well into the "Digital Native" culture. I feel that I most appropriately fit into this category.
I notice digital natives in the schools where I have worked, these students instinctively texting or IM-ing a friend before calling that friend on the phone. I have also noticed countless digital natives, mostly in the form of instructors, who believe that learning takes place through delivery and acquisition of content knowledge, rather than through construction of understanding through meaningful and authentic tasks.
Prensky's contrast of "Legacy" against "Future" content is interesting, but I feel that identifying discrete disciplines perpetuates an old model of education where instructors tend to only have one area of domain expertise.