In our era of keywords and hashtags, “beauty” seems to become a synonym of cosmetics. Is there any discussion left out there about the human faculty to experience nature in its purity? You know, Kant’s conception of beauty? If you care about philosophy in our tumultuous world, Christopher Pappas tips to make your LMS “aesthetically pleasing” should help you get back on track on your 18th century epistemology. If you do not care about that at all, but still find it important to increase student performance and engagement, you might as well stick around anyway.
As Pappas points out, we are visual creatures. But we are also discriminating creatures, and the LMS is supposed to help us build our critical judgement. Which is why the following tips go beyond cosmetic fixes. Following them might demand a rigorous examination of your own relationship with nature itself, or at least with the nature of your subject.
- Declutter. What a poorly understood idea this is. Minimalism for minimalism’s sake must have been one of the most detrimental fads in app development in recent times. In reality, clean interfaces enhance functionality, not subdue it. Clean interfaces are not a capricious selection of buttons, but the result of understanding a user’s core necessities and contextual affordances.
- Curate your assets. It is perfectly fine to offer students resources and reference materials that repeat or often conflict in their understanding of a topic. The problem comes when your library reflects poor curation or pedagogical misalignment: Gaps in the corpus, insufficient multimedia when the subject matter merits it, or even a suspicious variety of format files. Don’t make hassle a necessary struggle of your teaching.
- Be “sparingly wealthy” with your visuals. Another casualty of social media timing applied to learning has to be the infographic. By definition, they are meant to connect high-level elements in a way to add perspective, and invites further inspection of each one. Today, most infographics fail to provide the context that makes them worthwhile. Or if they do, they are not properly reinforced when the lesson focuses on a single element. Infographics succeed in the educational environment when they provide articulable context, itself the basis for assimilation and long-term retention of conceptual models.
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