After the previous post on this blog, where I took talons to the design/layout of a page spread from Global, I thought it only fair that I follow up with an alternative. This is a chance to demonstrate some essential design principles that I personally believe in when it comes to course materials, but it also reflects the fact that I enjoy just playing around with content and design -- rather like a hobby, actually...
Of course, it also provides an opportunity for readers to rip into my design approach! It's okay. I can take it. I don't have any formal qualifications or training in graphic design or any other related field, I've learned and experimented on the go, basically -- with the odd couple of hours here or there. And I think it is a good thing to play around with design and have people critique and discuss it. Therein lie the seeds of positive course material development.
Here is the initial double page spread (the first two of perhaps around 6 pages overall) for a simple unit I oriented around the theme/topic of books (whipped up in about 90 minutes -- so understand the content and design still need some work and improvement!):
Book it! Experimental course material (PDF version)
Book it! Experimental course material (Adaptable MS Word version)
Book it! Experimental course material (Compatible .doc version)
Besides the standard PDF version there, I've included MS Word and compatible .doc formats for teacher-designers interested in playing around with the material and adapting it (or just dipping inside the formatting to see how I make it work).
Now here are some basic principles (based on my own beliefs and preferences) which I hope the material demonstrates:
- The material/activities are blocked into sections, roughly half a page each (or 25% of the space when viewing the entire double page spread), to allow for focus and a minimalisation of distraction from other sections. Each is designed to be a sort of "mini canvas" for different stages of the lesson.
- There is deliberate use of larger fonts and space to help for overall readibility (hopefully without necessarily making any teenage or adult user of the material feel like they are having things dumbed down for them).
- There is emphasis on salience in terms of language I might want the learners to be able to find and focus on (and later look at for review purposes), by using larger and darker fonts and leaving clear space around each part.
- There is space provided around key language input that should allow learners to add their own notes above, below or alongside the text without obscuring it.
- There is deliberate provision of spaces for learners to add their own input, questions, discoveries, etc.
- Certain basics of teaching are assumed and not stipulated in the material. In other words, I don't think every discussion or potential language analysis opportunity needs to be charted onto the page in advance. Teachers can and ought to make more of their own decisions about how to utilise the content.
So there you have it.
Over to you, then...