White Space

November 17, 2013

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Justification:

The users of my final project will be students from grades 4-12 and adult instructors.  The majority of the students are advanced readers.  Students begin our program with either no or very limited programming skills. Each of the six sample programs in my image are provided for students to recreate using The Cortex programming environment and the Motor Testing Station they each build.  A short description of what is going to happen when the program in successfully transferred to The Brain robotic controller is provided along with tips for programming.

According to Lohr (2008), “Space can direct the eye to important information by chunking and separating instructional elements” (p. 272).  I create this in Adobe Fireworks and used the guidelines to help me have the same amount of space between each section of this graphic.  I was hoping to keep everything evenly spaced so a student’s attention wouldn’t necessarily be directed to one part of the page.  I also kept manipulating the width of the image to make it as narrow as possible so there would be as little difference in white space below the program descriptions as possible.  I still think this needs some work to have less white space in the second and fifth programming sections.

When adding in the program descriptions and tips for each section, I lessened the space between the description and tip.  Initially the space was that of one line of text, but it looked like there was too much separation between the two parts that are related.  Lohr (2008) stated, “It is space that separates phrases, clauses, and paragraphs from each other; and it is space that separates subsections and chapters from one another” (p. 272).

After getting feedback from my user test, I am considering creating a separate graphic for each of the six programs to allow for more focus on each of them or making each section the same size and centering each program section within the length of the space.

Resource:
Lohr, L. (2008). Creating graphics for learning and performance (2nd ed.). Upper Saddle River, NJ: Pearson Education.


Organization

November 10, 2013

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Justification:

The users of my final project will be students from grades 4-12 and adult instructors.  The majority of the students are advanced readers.  Students begin our program with a wide range of manipulative building skills.  Both students and instructors will need to become familiar with different ways the fischertechnik parts they will use for building robots can connect.  This graphic is intended to provide an overview of the most common connectors used in our lab.  While being introduced to the parts, instructors show students how the connectors work and allow them a chance to try it on their own.

I decided to use vertical alignment to make the heading of the image stand out more so students would know what they are looking at.  I placed the three connectors in order from left to right of how common they are amongst the parts in our lab.  The pin and groove method is the most common.  Lohr (2008) shared that elements on the left side of a plane have the status of before and images on the right have the status of after or secondary (p. 128).  Although all three connectors are important, some are used a lot more than others and students need to become familiar with them in that order.    

I had a friend look at my instructional message.  We discussed use of straight lines versus arrows to show the connection between the heading and the three connector boxes.  We decided that the straight lines allowed for flow from the heading to the parts and also from the parts to the heading.  Due to that decision, my friend suggested that I make the box around the heading bolder so it draws more attention when the entire image is first seen.  According to Lohr, “Aside from using alignment, hierarchy is perceived through color and size.  Images that are brighter or darker are often perceived as more important, dominant, or superordinate” (p. 133).   

Resource:
Lohr, L. (2008). Creating graphics for learning and performance (2nd ed.). Upper Saddle River, NJ: Pearson Education.


Color Project: Color and Depth

November 3, 2013

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The users of my final project will be students from grades 4-12 and adult instructors.  The majority of the students are advanced readers.  Both students and instructors will need to become familiar with the location of the different parts they will use for building robots.  This graphic is intended to provide an overview of the three main sections of storage units in our lab.  Two of our other units are focused around static and dynamic building so our parts are separated to make finding either category of parts easier.

I selected rectangular prisms to be simple representations of the drawer units we use to store parts.  It is set up in the same order in our lab: clear, blue, and red.  I am not able to select which colors to use for the storage units since they are already part of our lab.  I did decide to color code the text to match the units. Lohr (2008) stated, “Use the same color to chunk/group content” (color insert p. 3).  In her example, the grouping helped learners make the connection between two items that went together amongst other similar pairs.

I used four different size fonts and shadowing to add depth to my graphic.  Lohr (2008) stated, “Scale, or relative proportion of objects, communicates relative importance and creates an element of complexity or detail that signify depth” and “shadows give an image dimension, or depth” (p. 272).  Having a larger title makes the objective of the graphic clear.  I think having the same size font for the next three levels ties the main idea of the color-coding of parts together.

I had a friend look at my instructional message.  We discussed use of flat rectangles instead of the 3D boxes, but we both felt that the 3D boxes would help a student relate the graphic to the physical units we have in the lab.  My friend questioned the size of the clear unit being smaller, and I explained that in the lab, the unit for the robotic parts is half the size of the other two.  He liked the shadowing behind the text because it made items stand out a little more and goes well with the style of boxes used to represent the storage units.  He also thought that the color coding of the text and storage units will help students make a connection between the color and contents.

Resource:
Lohr, L. (2008). Creating graphics for learning and performance (2nd ed.). Upper Saddle River, NJ: Pearson Education.


Selection Principle: Emphasizing Figure and Ground

October 27, 2013

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The users of my final project will be students from grades 4-12 and adult instructors.  The majority of the students are advanced readers.  This is new to students and is designed to provide an overview of the ports, buttons, and switches that will be used during this unit.  I thought this would be a good design to focus on the concepts of selection principle and figure-ground because there are many parts to The Brain robotic controller that users need to be aware of in order to properly use it for programming.

The original graphic used to point out the different ports, buttons, and switches was a computer-aided design (CAD) image that looked like a real controller (see below).  I decided to create a simple line drawing of the controller to label instead of using the more realistic version.  Lohr (2008) explained that researchers in the 1960s “agreed that realistic visuals often provided extraneous stimuli that detracted from learning.  Simple line drawings were favored because they provided only the essential cues” (p. 100).   I think this line drawing will complement the real controller students will have in-hand while viewing this graphic.  According to Lohr, “one way to address the three c’s (concentrated, concise, and concrete) is to improve figure-ground – a perception principle that explains how the limited information-processing capacity of the human mind forces people to focus on one stimulus at a time rather than several” (p. 102).  I decided to add a CAD generated image of the controller as a reference for students so they would have a visual of what the line drawing represents.  I think that made it more concrete and that the line drawing portion of the graphic adds the component of concentration.

I had a friend look at my design and we discussed the lines and text that are used to point to and label the parts of the controller.  I originally did everything in black, but a suggestion was to make them a different color to keep everything from blending together.  I chose to use the same shade of blue that I have been using throughout my graphics, including the title of this graphic.  I had also originally included the CAD image of each side of the controller that is shown below, but was given the suggestion to remove it because it seemed to busy.  I think that doing so helped to draw more attention to the labeled parts of the controller which made the graphic as a whole more concise.

Resource:
Lohr, L. (2008). Creating graphics for learning and performance (2nd ed.). Upper Saddle River, NJ: Pearson Education.

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*The CAD created graphic of the controller.  I decided to create a line drawing to use in place of this.


CARP Project

October 20, 2013

CARP – Contrast, Alignment, Repetition, and Proximity

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Justification:

The users of my final project will be students from grades 4-12 and adult instructors.  The majority of the students are advanced readers.  This is new to students and is designed to provide an overview of the basic programming commands that will be used during this unit.  These commands will be used by students and instructions regularly in our robotics program.  I thought this would be a good design need to focus on applying CARP (contrast, alignment, repetition, and proximity) to because there are multiple sections that are related, but still need to show some separation.

I tried to create contrast by adjusting the size, weight, and colors of the heading, subtitle for the type of command, and the text that describes the commands. I used a left-alignment for the text that describes the commands and according to Lohr (2008), “One of the most important things to remember about alignment is that text should be left-aligned for easier reading in western cultures” (p. 201).  For the subtitles of types of commands, I decided to add a shadow of color that relates to the color of the commands. I consistently used the font Trebuchet throughout the design.  I also added a curved box around the title to match the shape of the programming command icons.  Lohr (2008) states, “Repetition can create a sense of harmony and unity. When you repeat similar colors in a display, or similar typeface, you imply relationships” (p. 203).  As for proximity, I used a larger amount of space between each section of the type of commands to show separation between them.  I made sure to use the same amount of space before the procedure commands subtitle and the lights and sensors commands subtitle following the previous section.

I had a friend look at my design and we discussed the contrast alignment, repetition, and proximity of the different parts of it.  I originally had a more squared box around the title, but rounded the edges a lot more in order to make it look more like the command icons based on his suggestion.  The second suggestion was to add the shadow of color in the subtitles that relates to the command icons to help tie them together.  I think that made a big difference in also showing separation between each type of command.

Resource:
Lohr, L. (2008). Creating graphics for learning and performance (2nd ed.). Upper Saddle River, NJ: Pearson Education.


ACE it with PAT – Graphic Organizer

October 13, 2013

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The users of my final project will be students from grades 4-12 and adult instructors.  The majority of the students are advanced readers.  Both students and instructors will follow this process when being introduced to programming for robotics.  This is intended to be an overview of the unit.

In the “create” phase of ACE, Lohr (2008) states that it “involves moving design from a conceptual form to a physical form” (p. 76).  I decided to make my design to look like stepping stones to show progression from the beginning of the unit to the final stage of applying what they learn.  I think this will help to emphasize that what they are learning builds on something they previously learned.

I think the Trebuchet font used to state each step will help to make this inviting for users because as Lohr (2008) stated, “many consider Sans Serif type more legible for computer-based instruction or presentation since the resolution of computer monitors is often not great enough to show serifs, making serif typefaces lose their legibility” (p. 221).  I also decided to incorporate the design of the word “robotics” from a previous assignment to start to tie everything together for my final project of this unit.

I had a friend look at the original graphic organizer I created where the outline of the hexagon boxes were all the same thickness. He suggested that I make them thicker to show the progression of the unit.  In the “evaluation” phase of ACE, one of the questions Lohr (2008) suggests asking is “Do cues in the visual help perception of selection, organization, and integration?” (p. 87).  I ended up making that change because I think it will help people to interpret it as a progression.

Resource:
Lohr, L. (2008). Creating graphics for learning and performance (2nd ed.). Upper Saddle River, NJ: Pearson Education.


The Use of Shape

October 6, 2013

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The users of my final project will be students from grades 4-12 and adult instructors.  The majority of the students are advanced readers.  Both students and instructors will be familiar with the Engineering Design Process and use it regularly in our robotics program.  This is intended to be a reminder of the steps in the process and that they can go forward in steps, but also backwards when needed.

I think the message of the Engineering Design Process will work because I used curved line segments to form a circle to tie the different steps together. According to Lohr (2008), “Circles and ovals are used to show unity, imply harmony, show processes, focus attention, and show elements of systems or subsystems” (p. 250).  In addition to that, Lohr explains that lines can be used to show motion and direction (p. 250).  In addition to the use of shapes to develop and instructional message, I selected the Georgia typeface for the steps in the process to make it easy to read online (Lohr, p. 220).

I had a friend look at my instructional message.  We discussed the use of arrows to show direction in addition to the circular line, but I feel that not having arrows allows for a flow in both directions.  I added the word “start” because it’s the only direction that is needed to get the process going.  I tried the use of arrows facing both directions, but thought it looked too crowded.  That may be a concept to continue to play with if the process is difficult for some to understand.

Resource:
Lohr, L. (2008). Creating graphics for learning and performance (2nd ed.). Upper Saddle River, NJ: Pearson Education.


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