Developing Instruction with Effective Materials

Developing Instruction:

The development phase of Instructional Design involves building the actual instructional materials. The design phase determined the content and order of instruction, now during development we must determine the best means to present that content. One of the difficult tasks in developing instruction is to be sure that the presentation is clear and unambiguous. We want to provide the learners with enough information to be efficient, but not so much that we overwhelm or confuse them. It is also important that the materials themselves do not distract from the underlying content.

As an example, I will present several of the slides from the Polarity Keynote and point out how the information is portrayed in a succinct manner.

Example 1: Slide Design

The first example shows how the same content can be presented both poorly and well, just by varying the graphic design.
Same Polarity Slide - Bad
Same Polarity Slide - Good

While this is certainly an extreme example, it points out many of the possible pitfalls of bad graphic design and layout. The slide on the left shows:
  • poor choice of color
  • lack of contrast between the text and background
  • the gradient background covers an extreme range from almost white to dark grey, so there is no single color choice for text that is good for the entire slide
  • the title is all upper case, which is more difficult to read
  • the bullet points are centered, making them more difficult to read than if the text was left justified to the bullets

Notice how the slide on the right, which has the same content, is much clearer and easier to understand. This slide shows:
  • simple color scheme
  • white text on a dark background for high contrast
  • small gradient from dark to almost black
  • title is in all lower case
  • left justified text for the bullet points

Also, since the particular amplitude does not matter (the concept is true for all amplitudes), the amplitude is not included on the waveform graphs.
What is important (polarity) is specified simply as +Positive or -Negative. Notice that both the word (“Positive”) and the symbol (“+”) are used.

(note: for an explanation of use of capitalization and legibility, see webstyleguide .)

Example 2: Graphic/Image Design

The next example uses good design principles for both of the slides themselves, and focuses on ways to improve graphics and images used in slideshows.

Opposite Polarity Slide - Bad
Opposite Polarity Slide - Good

The graphic in the image on the right slide is a much clearer presentation of the concept that the one in the left slide. This is because of several design choices that were made in the development of the waveform graphs.

First of all, the graphic in the right slide uses a simple, consistent color scheme:
  • Blue is used for normal polarity waveforms,
  • red for reverse polarity, and
  • black for the various combinations (as will be shown later).

Waveform graphs themselves can be complex and are often difficult to grasp at first, so the use of an unnecessarily complex waveform in the left slide does not add to the instruction. It merely serves to confuse the learner. The simplest of waveforms (sine wave) is used in the right graphic. This allows the learner to focus on the concept being presented, rather than extraneous information.

Example 3: Multiple Representations

To reinforce the presentation of a concept, it is helpful to use multiple representations. The following slide use 3 modes to state and reinforce the concept of cancellation:
  • lingual - “the waveform doubles”
  • visual - waveform graph showing twice the amplitude
  • aural - audio waveform with double the amplitude (louder) is heard
Amplitude Doubles Slide - Good

Continue to Implementation and Evaluation