Designing Education for the Web - Do We Understand the Basics of Representing Information Effectively?

L. Carswell and J. Richardson (UK)


Distance learning, Internet based educational and training systems, quality control, educational software.


Using the web seems a simple way of incorporating distance education into a university’s course programme However, some of the materials presented on web sites overlook the fundamental issue of how to represent information engagingly. This study takes a ‘back-to basics’ approach in order to understand what kinds of materials students prefer and their perceptions of different types of representations. It examines university students’ preferences for representation of learning materials and compares and contrasts these with teachers’ preferences. Students preferred materials containing visual components perceiving them to be easier to understand, despite their informational equivalence. Comparisons with teachers indicated a gap in commonality between the two groups. Teachers did not reveal themselves to be reflective practitioners, having insight into their own representational designs. Teachers need to be aware of student preferences in representation for designing effective distance education materials as such knowledge is not innate. This will be an increasingly pressing issue in future educational web site developments.

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