Thursday, June 12, 2008

How my project reduces cognitive load

My project employs the strategies of pre-training, segmenting, weeding, signaling, and aligning words and pictures. The website is here:

Pre-training: When students are encountering the website for the first few times, they will be using it as a learning resource. They will use the 'find' link to look up vocabulary words and concepts they don't understand yet. This will enable them to work successfully on their own robotics project that they can later share with others on the website. Students with more knowledge of the vocabulary and a finished project can use the 'share' link when they are ready to upload a project of their own.

Segmenting: There will be a lot of information of different kinds on the website. Some will be more abstract, such as the vocabulary and concepts, whereas the projects will be applied and concrete. It is very important that the different types of information are clearly categorized so students can find exactly what they are looking for without being confronted with a lot of overwhelming or distracting information. The DHTML menus help a lot in this regard, because originally I had vocabulary, concepts, projects, and creators (engineers) all arranged in columns on one 'find' page. This could be overwhelming to see and cause cognitive overload just trying to distinguish which column you need to focus on. The DHTML menus clearly distinguish the categories with simple labels and allow the student to navigate to the information they need without having to sort through it all.

Weeding: The information on the website is very concise, so I don't need to weed it, or eliminate the extraneous information. The way information gets on the site is what does the weeding. People will submit information with a form that has very concise labels, so extraneous information can't be added. And I haven't included information that doesn't facilitate learning to program robots in some way, such as a photo gallery of random kids with robots or something.

Signaling: The navigation provides the first layer of signaling, guiding the students clearly to the type of information they need to find. On the sub-pages it is clear how to get to the home page and the other sections, so the basic organization of the site's information is clear to the user throughout.

Aligning pictures and text: The table layout maintains a close arrangement of pictures and text. Pictures and text are used together on the pages where projects are featured. The pictures and text are side-by-side rather than above and below to prevent the need for scrolling down to access part of the text or picture.

1 comment :

Rebecca said...

I always thought your website project is really well-made and organized. I see that you put lot of effort to apply those reducing cognitive overload principles. It was really hard for me to apply to my website and as I read this, I kind of grasp the idea how to make mine to be applied this theory in to practice..thanks:)
I think what you are doing with the codes is brilliant,I think it's easy to navigate and easy to find things they want to know.