Above you can see three new headers I just completed for new 2013 courses to be launched on a Moodle platform. After playing around with several different designs, I settled on this one because--for whatever reason--something inside me just suddenly said: "That's it! That's the feel and look we're after for these courses."
Looking over them (even now, above this text as I type) in some ways I can't really decide whether I love or loathe this particular design, and that got me thinking about what must seem to many people a rather innocuous issue. How important are good course headers, anyway?
And why am I particularly passionate about getting them right, willing to spend any/all hours fiddling and tweaking, discarding and starting them over anew?
With E-Learning courses, there is of course a sequence of very important things that have to take place well before the course header design ever factors into the equation. Objectives, mapping, samples and trialling, building in the 'back end' of a course in terms of grading and administration, etc.
But for me personally, when you get to that stage when you are going to start actually loading up the materials and tasks into Moodle courses, I have an almost obsessive insistence on not doing anything until those course headers are... just so. I will take as much time as I need to get them right.
Perhaps it stems from the experience (a long time ago now) of using Moodle for the first time and applying the basic text editor to create a header title and description, perhaps with some pics thrown in. For want of a more eloquent way of putting it, basically the course page made me get a serious YUCK sensation every time I visited it. It screamed amateur, and no style! And, very importantly, the learners are going to find this thoroughly uninspiring...
Or perhaps it's because now, as a learning designer, that sense or feel of a course, starting with immediate first impressions (layout, colours, pictures, textures, titles, wording) really matters a lot more to me. And I want to design and feature course headers that sort of say something to the people who are going to be using that course. Until I can get that right, or very close to right (in my own mind), most other parts of the course development go on hold.
The design above (and I'm still not entirely sure I'll go with it yet) represents and attempts to say something.
Does it say anything to you?
Let's put it to the test: Why do you think I would design course headers in the way I have above? What am I trying to evoke? Who for?