Interactive Courseware Instructional Strategies

  • A storyboard is the documentation for interactive multimedia production.
  • It contains instructions for programming, an audio script, and a detailed description of the visual elements such as text, video, graphics, and animation.
  • Storyboards are developed during the design phase of the ISD process, typically by instructional designers, with input from other development team members such as subject matter experts, videographers, programmers, and graphic artists.
  • The storyboard becomes the key design document that the entire production team uses as a base for developing the interactive program.
  • The information on the storyboard is often reviewed and approved by the customer prior to the start of the development effort.
  • This article provides specific guidelines for storyboard development and the rationale, based on research findings, for each guideline.
  • The research studies and literature that support each guideline are presented by topic in the references.
  • It is unlikely that in any one program every guideline will be implemented; the guidelines are not meant to be applicable to all situations and environments.
  • Their application depends on factors such as the hardware and software selected for interactive courseware (ICW) development and delivery, the learning skills and motivation of the target audience, the complexity and criticality of the instructional content, and, of course, available resources.

Basic ICW Instructional Strategies

Instructional strategies are the general instructional treatments given to lessons in an interactive Multimedia course. When developing storyboards, the designer will be concerned with ensuring that:

  • Interactivity is increased
  • Learner control is addressed
  • Feedback is appropriate for enhancing learning and transfer

Guidelines for Interactivity

In any type of computer-based training, interactivity refers to the activities performed by both the learner and the computer. The quantity of interaction depends on a number of variables, including the type of input required by the learner, how the response is analyzed, and how the computer responds back to the learner. Research has shown that it is important to design as much meaningful interactivity as possible into an ICW Program

  • Provide learner control of sequence when:
    • Lengthy instructional sequences must be completed by the student in no specific order. Student motivation and interest will be maintained because students will be in control and not forced through a particular sequence which ultimately does not affect learning.
    • Students are familiar with a topic and are able to make appropriate sequence choices. In this case, motivation is facilitated because students can choose information that is interesting and relevant to them
    • The training is for cognitive strategies or higher-order problem solving tasks. Sequence control in this instance will allow students to make selections that may facilitate flexible and novel thinking.
  • Do not provide sequence control to students in situations where the materials have a specific prerequisite order. Learning could be inhibited if the sequence is improperly chosen.
  • Provide learner control of content when:
    • Students have significant previous knowledge of the content. Presentation of known materials is irrelevant and often uninteresting to students.
    • Students have higher ability (that is, they are “sophisticated” learners). Sophisticated learners are often able to make content choices based on their particular needs.
    • There is a high probability that students will succeed in learning the content regardless of the chosen content. Students will perceive through feedback that success is under their personal control and is relatively independent of the chosen content.
    • Cognitive strategies and higher-order problem-solving (rather than facts) are being taught. Students may see the relevance of different content and will be able to use this information effectively in novel ways during the learning of cognitive strategies and higher-order problem solving.
    • The skills are not critical, the training is optional, and student motivation is high.
  • Do not provide full learner control of content when all topics in the instructional presentation are required for successful completion of the program and there is a hierarchical order to the materials. If there is no hierarchical order to the lessons, let the students have control of the order but make sure they do not skip any relevant information.
  • Determine the amount of learner control based on your resource availability as well as these guidelines. Increased learner control over sequence and content generally requires more development work and more resources.
Guidelines for Feedback

Feedback informs the learner about the accuracy of his response. Feedback can be used to address possible student misconceptions or lack of prerequisite knowledge. It can also be used to help students learn, enhance retention, and measure how much they have learned. Guidelines for feedback are:

  • Keep feedback on the same screen with the question and student response. This structure reduces the memory load for the student.
  • Provide feedback immediately following a student response. Information about test results is important in the learning process; delayed feedback can confuse students.
  • Provide feedback to verify the correctness. It may not be clear to students why their responses are correct or incorrect. Therefore, in addition to knowledge of results, feedback should provide specific information about a response.
  • For incorrect responses, give the student a hint and ask the student to try again. Without the hint, students may fail again and feel frustrated. The hint helps students recall relevant information to answer the question.
  • Tailor the feedback to each learner’s response. Feedback should address the misconception a student may have by selecting a particular incorrect response.
  • Provide encouraging feedback; however, do not provide the type of feedback that may encourage a student to make an incorrect response on purpose just to see the feedback. Positive feedback can provide students with the motivation to learn. Cynical or negative feedback may discourage a student.
  • Add instructional feedback to simulation responses to explain why the simulated world reacted in a certain way or to provide a hint. In simulation, feedback is embedded in how the simulated world responds to a particular learner action. In the test, feedback can be phased out to facilitate transfer.
  • If possible, allow students to print out their test results. Students often prefer to maintain a hard copy record of their performance.
Guidelines for Visual Elements

Visual information in an ICW course serves to enhance the effectiveness of the training program. Visual elements include still frame and motion video, photographs, text, graphics, and animation. Guidelines for visual elements of an ICW program are presented below.

  • Do not jam a screen with too much information at any one point. Cluttered screens reduce learning efficiency and effectiveness (i.e., it takes more time to learn and more students often make more errors).
  • When presenting a large amount of relevant information, display small chunks of information one at a time through:
    • Screen buildup
    • Window overlay
    • Icon buttons
  • Use windows to group or separate certain information from the rest of the display. This guideline helps to:
    • Draw students’ attention to a particular set of data.
    • Reduce the density of display on the screen by superimposing one display on top of another.
    • Establish student expectancy that certain data will always appear in a certain format and location.
  • Use icon buttons for concrete concepts that can be represented pictorially, in miniature. Icon buttons represent information that is available in a compact, easy-to-understand, pictorial format and, upon request of a student, disclose that information.
  • Consider presenting information graphically and spatially (e.g., in a diagram or a flowchart). Relationships among content or the overall program structure can be more easily visualized and remembered. A student’s path through the program can be easily displayed and remembered.
  • Use the following techniques to help keep students oriented:
    • Place information in constant locations.
    • Provide a consistent layout for the same types of screens.
    • Maintain the same perspective in a series of visuals. If a change of perspective is necessary, cue students to the change.
    • Use type sizes, colors, and shapes as cues.
    • Provide signposts which help a student remember current and past locations, what lies ahead, and how to get there. Make signposts available for reference without requiring the student to move from the current location.
    • Provide a bird’s-eye view, or long shot, before zooming into details, to establish a frame of reference for the student. Knowing where they are, how they got there, what they can do, where they can go, and how they can get there gives students a sense of control. Making this information available allows students to concentrate on the program content rather than the navigation mechanism.
  • Use the following techniques to position information on a screen:
    • Present key information in prominent areas (e.g., away from the border).
    • Present information that changes from display to display (the body of the instruction) in the center of the screen.
    • Present recurrent information (e.g., menu bars) in constant locations.
    • Present navigation buttons near the borders of the screen.
  • To differentiate key information and attract or direct a student’s attention, implement these cueing techniques:
    • Arrows, labels, narration
    • Separation of information into distinct objects
    • Windows
    • Colors, shapes
    • Highlighting, bordering, underlining
    • Mixed type sizes and fonts
    • Blinking
  • Use the following techniques for cueing information:
    • Reserve blinking for critical situations requiring immediate student attention or action.
    • Keep borders distinct from the object enclosed.
    • Highlight by either brightening the area of interest or dimming the background.
    • Limit highlighting to 10 percent of the display.
    • Avoid using too many cues at one time. Oversaturation of the techniques may reduce their effectiveness.
  • Use the following techniques for colors:
    • Limit the number of colors on each display. Too many colors on a display reduce effectiveness and aesthetic quality.
    • Use black on yellow, or black on white for text. Always use dark letters on a light background. Blue is an excellent background color, but don’t use blue for text, edges, narrow lines, or small objects.
    • Avoid distinctions based on the color cue only. When using colors, always use a second cue (e.g.,label, shape, texture) for color-blind students.