Professional dilemmas

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Are there any rules as to how much learning content can be viewed/ featured
on screen at any one time if it is still to remain effective to the learner?

Though there are no real set rules as such, it is possible to determine some
practical guidelines to govern the way learning content is displayed on screen.
However, before any guidelines governing the way content is displayed can be
determined, three issues must be carefully considered. First, what is the
target audience’s age group, intelligence and ability? Second, what is the
nature of the learning content itself? Finally, what is its actual purpose –
what does the developer want the user to gain from using it?

The way in which learning content can be displayed on screen can vary in a
number of ways. For example, the text format (the choice of font and font size,
use of bold and italics, paragraphs, bullet points, etc); the use, frequency,
style and scale of diagrams, illustrations and animations; the balance between
clear and concise text that needs to stand out and more wordy, explanatory
text; and the overall appearance of the content on screen (interface design,
proximity of text and graphics, use of empty space, and so on) can change
depending on the aim of the learning. Look at the design approach taken in the
light of these and judge whether you think the information is sufficiently accessible.
If it is a technical subject, are there enough graphics to engage the learner?
Nothing turns a learner off more than acres of on-screen text.

These guidelines can then be matched to the physical and technical
constraints of the target user’s computer to determine the actual quantity of
learning content to be viewed on screen at any one time – factors such as
screen size, resolution, colour depth and the delivery mechanism itself (whole
screen, in window, in browser, etc). Careful consideration of all these factors
will help determine the design and layout to ensure the user benefits without
getting overloaded with information.

Response supplied by Jason Baker, general manager of Aircom Education and

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