October 15, 2012 – What a crazy week. I don’t think I’ve posted anything on this site since my last design journal post. I’ve been working on several other sites that I have had to set up instead. One of these other sites, in fact, is a critical part of explaining a change that I made this week.
My original unit of instruction for this course was intended to be a Photoshop training course designed to prepare adult learners seeking employment with my business to perform certain, basic photo editing steps on my pictures. The idea behind this was that these persons could help me speed up my workflow without threatening the integrity of it. I recently was given an assignment that has changed everything, however, and preparing photo editors couldn’t be farther from the top of my list of priorities right now.
I’ve been involved as an adult leader with The Boy Scouts of America for several years (and my entire young life growing up), and I’ve been given opportunities in recent years to lead training efforts on a new program called Journey to Excellence. Last fall was the first opportunity I had to do this, and my coursework from that semester catered nicely to a Journey to Excellence-related project. I’ve been given the same opportunity again this year (plus some) and find yet again that my course work allows me to kill two birds with one stone, so to speak.
Long story short, I plan to switch my intended unit of instruction from a Photoshop training to a Journey to Excellence training. I think this will be very beneficial in the long run because it will not only save me time and allow me to make a meaningful contribution to an organization that I support, but it will open new opportunities for designing graphics and visuals. John, please let me know if you approve of this change.
The graphic that I created for this week’s assignment is an overview graphic that introduces the general objective of my new unit of instruction. Since I’ve already spoken at length in the course discussion about this graphic, I’ll simply link to the graphic (click here) and copy/paste that discussion below. Feedback is certainly welcome.
**From my course discussion post:
This training is primarily being developed for Unit Commissioners in Scouting units in the Sawtooth District of the Snake River Council of the Boy Scouts of America (that’s a mouthful ). The users are adults with varying educational and professional backgrounds. Their experience with Scouting and the program that I have been appointed to oversee, the Journey to Excellence program, is also varied. Attitudes and motivation vary more than anything else. I assume that the mental and communicative skills needed to not only comprehend the content of my unit of instruction, but the greater Journey to Excellence program (hereafter referred to as JTE) as well, are present in each potential user. The greatest learner variables that this unit of instruction will face are, first, motivation and second, comfort with Scouting administration.
I believe this graphic will work as an overview of the unit of instruction because it breaks down the process that the unit will cover. It also introduces a support tool (record keeping tools) that will be provided with the unit of instruction. In fact, the instruction will be geared to properly using these support tools. This graphic illustrates the handling of these support tools (record keeping tools) by all parties that will be responsible for their usage.
Consistent with the information in the ACE It chapter, a careful consideration of the instructional function of both the unit and the graphic and of their content classification was conducted. This unit of instruction will train learners to use record keeping tools created for the purpose of monitoring and reporting Scouting unit performance. The reports generated through the use of these tools will be used to complete the annual Journey to Excellence report that is required at the time of unit rechartering. This unit of instruction (and the attendant overview graphic) focus on process and organization.
Regarding the Creation stage of this graphic, the principle of selection was employed by focusing on key individuals or groups and the flow of records and reports among these groups. Additional organizational information designed to make directional cues clear was added in text next to each stage in the graphic. This particular graphic does not treat the Integration of the unit of instruction within the broader Journey to Excellence program operation, but it is a form of integration in that it provides an overview of how the record keeping tools fit into the process which will be covered by my unit of instruction.
In terms of Actions taken in the creation process, contrast and color were used by breaking the record keeping side of the process (red background) apart from the reporting side of the process (blue background). Repetition of space was achieved with the use of white bars that broke the graphic into three major areas and a smaller white line that further broke these areas into six spaces. The use of circles and small icons to represent people also introduced a unifying form of repetition. Proximity was addressed by clustering the circles, group titles, and representative icons together in the spaces created by the white lines/bars.
In terms of Tools, there were only a few types of font used in this graphic. The primary font is a san-serif font that is easy to read, but there is also a decorative font at the top that was used to emphasize the idea of quality (which is the emphasis of the Journey to Excellence program in general). Shapes such as circles, arrows, icons representing people, lines and rectangles, and a grunge background blended for visual variety were employed. Color was kept simple (blue and red), depth was hinted at with minor drop shadows behind certain text and other visual elements, and space was created with the white bars and lines mentioned above.
I more or less followed the diamond design process and allowed myself to create several revisions before submitting the graphic for user feedback. Though not published at the link above, several of the earlier designs were much busier than later designs.
The user-test revealed problems with the use of text and the dividing lines set up to create spaces. There were no verbs in the original test descriptions and the lines and arrows, which were intended to imply the action in the graphic, were insufficient without additional text. These lines were subsequently relegated to simple space creation and organizational flow and verbs were added to the text to give clarity to the overall graphic. The title, which was originally located near the center of the graphic, was moved to the top into a much more familiar page layout.
Processes should take advantage of transformative graphics and even generative synetics, but I don’t feel that this graphic adequately captures either of these concepts. I considered creating a graphic that likened (synetics) by analogy the JTE record keeping and reporting process to gardening, but I choose to stick with a simpler, organizational design instead. Likewise, I couldn’t think of anything in my user’s long-term memory that I could tap into to make this graphic more transformative and aid working memory.
I welcome any feedback on how to make this graphic more transformative or more generative. Thanks.