September 30, 2012 – I have far more to say about the reading assignment this week than I have time and energy to say, but I thought I would give it a try nonetheless. For those not familiar with the unit of instruction that I’m proposing for this course in my EdTech studies (506 Graphic Design for Learning), I’m planning to develop a simple Photoshop training that I can use to prepare potential employees to help me with my early photo editing work flow. Many of the basic, early changes that I make to photographs are similar in nature and/or straight forward and could be duplicated by another if given sufficient time and training. Of course, if the changes are made properly, I should be able turn off adjustments that I don’t like or make simple tweaks to the adjustments (hence, proper changes means no destructive edits). If push comes to shove, I can always start over with the backup of the RAW file. Either way, having at least one person available to help with this part of my work flow would be very beneficial at certain times.
I suspect that some photographers would no sooner let another person touch their post-processing work than they would allow that person to take the pictures for them, but in some circumstances, I can see such help being beneficial to me, but I digress.
The text that we are studying for our design course is Linda Lohr’s second edition of Creating Graphics for Learning and Performance (2008). We have been asked to review Linda’s discussion on theory and share a few thoughts here in our design journal. Again, I have more to say than I have time or energy to say tonight, but more will be coming in the future.
Lohr presents the theoretical foundation of effective learning design as Cognitive Load Theory. According to Lohr and the sources she cites, cognitive load theory addresses the mental load that learning or instructional tasks place on learners. Specifically, this theory breaks cognitive loads into intrinsic loads, extraneous loads, and germane loads (2008, p. 51-52).
When it comes to using Photoshop, I think there is a note that needs to be made about intrinsic loads. As a general rule of thumb, my experience with Photoshop thus far has been that the sum of the changes has a much higher degree of content interactivity than most of the individual edits that can be made. This is not to say, however, that all edits are of equal (and lower) content interactivity. There are certainly some edits that are more content interactive than others. I’m thinking about, for example, the differences between making color adjustments with a curves layer mask and making a universal exposure adjustment in camera raw. As my unit of instruction will likely address both of these adjustments and others like them, understanding shifts in the intrinsic load placed on learners by each editing option will be important.
In terms of extraneous loads, because Photoshop is a very customizable program, there is a great deal of redundancy in the software. In my own Photoshop learning ventures, this detail has increased the extraneous load that is placed on me as the learner. But as the instructional designer, and because my training unit is meant to be very simple and pointed (in terms of the objective), I will avoid the added extraneous load that Photoshop’s customizable interface presents by sharing only one type of approach (for example, pulling all layer adjustment masks from the icons embedded at the bottom of the layers panel). For those learners who wish to tackle the added extraneous load of the greater software package, there are excellent training modules and tutorials available online.
To further address the extraneous load that Photoshop’s interface presents, I will employ visuals that isolate and enlarge Photoshop’s otherwise small icons and buttons.
Now a thought or two on Germane Loads. To keep learner loads optimized, I will further incorporate a strong emphasis on sequence and process (to a greater extent than experienced Photoshop users would be willing to put up with). This sequence will focus the learner on the basic photo editing process that I want them to follow if they handle my pictures. Alternate methods of approaching the editing stages will not be introduced in my unit of instruction.
Also in accordance with theoretical ideas behind the germane load, analogies will be used to help learners understand the more complex edits they may be called upon to make. I have already seen some great examples of this in other online learning tutorials.
In building on Cognitive Load Theory, Lohr also discussed Information Processing Theory and several other more recently presented theories. I have much to say about these as it relates to my unit of instruction, but I’ll forbear on those discussions until a later time.
Lohr, L. (2008). Creating graphics for learning and performance, Lessons in visual literacy, 2nd ed. Pearson Merrill Prentice Hall; Upper Saddle River, New Jersey. ISBN: 978-0-13-219158-6