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Presentation: Reading screens: a critical visual analysis Sian bayne

Visual reading of interfaces (yippee, another prezi presentation). Research into Webquest. Webquest...

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Gill Clough
4 May 2010

Visual reading of interfaces (yippee, another prezi presentation).

Research into Webquest. Webquest was created to make it possible to access 9 museums worth of digital resources. Webquest was intended as a resource for schools. Webquest Interface is visual, colourful, designed for teachers. Resources for key stages 1 to 4 (age 5 to 16). Research began in 2007 (through the 2nd two years of project)

What framework did they use for analysis and how they did the visual analysis

Method

They went into schools, observed people using webquest, interviewed teachers and students.
Immediately apparent was a prevaling culture of fear and moral panic around using the internet in many schools.

Visual Analysis

  • Semiotics (process of making meaning)
  • Social semiotics (social processes that they an make that meaning from)

Analysis began by focusing on relationship between text and image. Then moved back and tried to make it a little more autonomic. Framing, Salence, looking at reading path.

Reading path: Challenge reading path of traditional print-based reading text. Usually left to right and up to down. Visual centred around the image rather than the text. Multiple entry points signifying a change in power between writer of text and reader. Reader now brings own interest to disposition of text.

Findings
They discovered, by doing this analysis, that there was no Web 2 element. Webquest was very structured and heirarchical, using a top down rather than embracing Web 2 ways of working. A digital environment with a very analogue design. Looked at many of the webquests and felt that they all followed same route.

They mocked up an alternative – image to left giving it more salience. Text to right and less heavy and in form of question giving power to the user rather than instructions.

Discussion
Revealed connections between broader context of online learning in schools and online interface design. Schools replicating traditional and print based ways of teaching and learning consistent with culture of fear identified in other aspects. Fear of giving user freedom, even on how to navigate a screen. Inconsistent with students’ own experience of other online environments. Also doing a disservice to students ability to critically engage with online text and create their own paths.

Did visual analysis within the schools taking pictures and contrasting with the content, tasks etc of webquest. By placing focus of analysis on visual they placed emphasis on underlying pedagogy that might otherwise have been missed.

Question about observations of children in classroom.

Looked to them that kids could skip thru without engaging with webquest image. When they did observations they found students skipping thru until they got to the bit where they had to do what they’d been told to do but without engaging with content. Flip button interested one student, but in a mechanical sense - you could effectively flip the text over seeing front and back, tried to get all the text boxes to flip at same time on same page by clicking button quickly. Not really engaged with the content, just the button

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