Web Technologies

Learning by Doing

May 31st, 2013 at 11:05

For the past month I have been helping with the Connected Communities consultations on web design. The aim of the consultations has been to provide guidance to the different groups on designing their own website as well as demonstrating to them how they could benefit from being part of a parent website that hosts work from all the different groups.
The consultations have involved showing them example websites and getting them to discuss and critique them. But by far the most useful part of these consultations has been the practical exercises we have given to them.
There were two practical exercises which drew on slightly different skills.
For the first, they were provided with a number of resources – pictures, headlines, text, quotes, – from which they had to design an interesting article for a webpage. The webpage was mounted onto paper and the finished result was critiqued by the other groups.
The second exercise provided them with a number of different oral histories (transcripts) each of which fell into one of the following categories – Schooldays, Sport or Farming. Their task was to create a webpage containing three teasers – one for each topic. They had to select text from the fuller stories provided, think up an interesting headline for each and use any pictures that they saw fit. Again, the finished webpage was mounted and critiqued by the other groups.
What the exercises highlighted for them was the need to have a coherent story, and how difficult it can sometimes be to leave out material even though it is available. Learning to direct people to a deeper level for the detail and constructing clever headlines that are not too obscure were also skills that were brought out by the exercises. Seeing how other groups approached the exercises and noticing the strengths and weaknesses of each also provided valuable learning.
The exercises left us in no doubt that however good your presentation on the strategies for good web design, it is only when users come to do it for themselves that those strategies gain meaning and real learning occurs.

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