Information Architecture For Educators


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Digital resources such as online syllabi and class notes are not just modern conveniences; they lead to enhanced learning opportunities. Many educators simply copy their offline material to the online
environment, not taking advantage of this unique format. The simple Information Architecture
concepts covered in this session will provide easily followed best practices and translate into an
improved e-learning experience for student and teacher.

Published in: Technology, Education
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Information Architecture For Educators

  1. 1. Information Architecture for Educators and Students Michael Zarro & Dave Cooksey
  2. 2. About Us <ul><li>Mike Zarro, MSLIS </li></ul><ul><li>Information Architect at gsi interactive, a Division of GSI Commerce, Inc. </li></ul><ul><li>Co-founder of The Educational Technology Center at Bryn Mawr College. </li></ul><ul><li>Web / multimedia technology lead for the Virtual Curriculum at The University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine. </li></ul><ul><li>Dave Cooksey, MA, MSIS </li></ul><ul><li>User Experience Lead at gsi interactive, a Division of GSI Commerce, Inc. </li></ul><ul><li>2007 - 2008 Chair of PhillyCHI, Philadelphia chapter for the ACM’s special interest group in Human-Computer Interaction (SIG-CHI) </li></ul><ul><li>Speaking Invitations: ACM SIG-CHI, IA Summit (ASIS&T) </li></ul><ul><li>Performed taxonomy / IA work for: 
 Ace Hardware | Babies’R’Us | Bath & Body Works | Dick ’s Sporting Goods | Ecko | Filson | Hershey ’s Gifts | iRobot | Linens ‘n Things | Toys ’R’U s </li></ul>
  3. 3. <ul><li>Introduction to Information Architecture (IA) </li></ul><ul><li>Information Seeking Behaviors </li></ul><ul><li>State of Educational IA </li></ul><ul><li>Best Practices </li></ul><ul><li>Conclusion & Resources </li></ul><ul><li>Q&A </li></ul>
  4. 4. Introduction to Information Architecture (IA)
  5. 5. Information Architecture Is <ul><li>“ the art and science of organizing and labeling websites, intranets, online communities and software to support usability.” </li></ul>- The Information Architecture Institute “ What Is Information Architecture?” -
  6. 6. Why IA? <ul><li>As information proliferates exponentially, findability and usability become critical. </li></ul><ul><li>Good IA lays the groundwork for an information system that makes sense to users. </li></ul>- The Information Architecture Institute “ What Is Information Architecture?” -
  7. 7. The Facets of IA <ul><li>An Occupation </li></ul><ul><li>A Job Title </li></ul><ul><li>Series of Design Activities </li></ul><ul><li>An Industry </li></ul><ul><li>Community of Practice </li></ul><ul><li>A Frame of Mind </li></ul>
  8. 8. The New Order
  9. 9. Context Users Content 3 Circles of IA
  10. 10. Educational IA
  11. 11. Traditional Teacher Student Classtime, syllabus, readings, assignments & exams, library
  12. 12. Electronic extends the traditional model Teacher Student Email, course management software (Blackboard), discussion boards, multiple school sites (especially library and e-reserves), external websites (Phila Free Library), Google, YouTube, Flickr, books & resources at: Amazon & etc…
  13. 13. Places <ul><li>MIT – Open Courseware </li></ul><ul><li>University of California, Berkeley iTunes U </li></ul><ul><li>Oxford University Internet Institute </li></ul><ul><li>Harvard University Extension School – YouTube video classes </li></ul>
  14. 14. Statistics <ul><li>Pew Internet – Dec 2006 7 0% of American adults use the internet.  That currently represents about 141 million people. </li></ul><ul><li>Among internet users: 57% - Research for school or training 12% - Take a class online for credit toward a degree of some kind 13% - Take a class online just for personal enjoyment or enrichment </li></ul>
  15. 15. Information Seeking Behavior
  16. 16. Satisficers & Maximizers <ul><li>“ It’s good enough” Researchers & students will use convenient, easy to find, information… even if they KNOW there are better resources out there. </li></ul>
  17. 17. <ul><li>Satisficers – choose the first option that matches their needs & are satisfied with easily found information – Herbert Simon, Nobel Memorial Prize in Economic Science (1978). </li></ul><ul><li>Generally, little cost to being a satisficer on the web. </li></ul>
  18. 18. <ul><li>Maximizers – choose the best possible information, and put in the work to get it. </li></ul><ul><li>Often left feeling unsatisfied… “Did I miss something?” </li></ul>
  19. 19. Fitts’ Law
  20. 20. <ul><li>MT = a + b log 2 (2 A / W + c ) </li></ul><ul><li>Guess what, you already know it! </li></ul>
  21. 21. Fitts’ Law for the web <ul><li>Move “targets” close together. </li></ul><ul><li>Make important “targets” bigger. </li></ul>Continue Exam Continue Exam
  22. 22. On Screen Reading <ul><li>Highlight keywords </li></ul><ul><li>Use headers with meaning </li></ul><ul><li>Use bulleted lists. </li></ul><ul><li>One idea per paragraph. </li></ul><ul><li>Be concise. </li></ul>
  23. 23. Labels <ul><li>Which one is a link? </li></ul><ul><li>Important Readings </li></ul><ul><li>Important Readings </li></ul><ul><li>Important Readings </li></ul><ul><li>Important Readings </li></ul>
  24. 24. Rule of 3 it’s not really a rule <ul><li>Information should be accessible within 3 clicks of entry to the site. </li></ul><ul><li>Course Homepage </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Syllabus </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Reading list </li></ul></ul></ul>
  25. 25. Scrolling <ul><li>Users will scroll if they think there is important information “below the fold” </li></ul><ul><li>Be aware of your students’ screen size. 800 x 600 1024 x 768 </li></ul><ul><li>Perhaps a quick “technology survey” would be useful. </li></ul><ul><li>Horizontal scrolling is still not recommended. </li></ul>
  26. 26. MCOL Website: 800x600
  27. 27. MCOL Website: 1024 x 768
  28. 28. Information Scent used to predict a path’s success Cold Getting Warmer Burning Up! Success Getting Warm
  29. 29. Berry Picking
  30. 30. <ul><li>Information needs evolve. </li></ul><ul><li>Selections of bits and pieces along the way. </li></ul>
  31. 31. Berrypicking
  32. 32. Site Statistics <ul><li>Browser, operating system, page(s) visited, etc… </li></ul>Bryn Mawr College
  33. 33. 5 second tests <ul><li>Look at a site for 5 seconds. </li></ul><ul><li>What can you remember? </li></ul>
  34. 35. Questions <ul><li>What is the mission of the school. </li></ul><ul><li>What kind of students does the school teach? </li></ul>
  35. 36. Answers <ul><li>The mission of the Center for Arts & Technology is to engage students in the academic and technical preparation needed to continue their education and launch their careers. </li></ul><ul><li>The Center for Arts & Technology specializes in providing high school students with the technical training and academic preparation to be successful in work, in college, and in life. </li></ul>
  36. 37. Personas <ul><li>What is a persona? </li></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Fictional characters created to represent the different user types. An aggregate of the real users based on research data about users. </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><li>What’s included? </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Name, photo, age, gender </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Tasks, scenarios, settings, social context </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Interests, desires, needs & goals </li></ul></ul>
  37. 38. Scenarios <ul><li>Users interaction with the system. </li></ul><ul><li>What they want to do, rather than exactly how. </li></ul><ul><li>Example: Jane wants to find the assignments due for week 6. She is on a shared library computer with a 30 minute time limit. </li></ul>
  38. 39. Sitemaps & Wirefames The IA basics
  39. 40. Sitemap <ul><li>Home </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Syllabus </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Discussion </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Readings </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Week 1 </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Week 2 </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Week 3 </li></ul></ul></ul>
  40. 41. Wireframe
  41. 42. Sketch
  42. 43. Collaboration Webs New Media Consortium & Educause <ul><li>Happening this year </li></ul><ul><li>Virtual collaboration </li></ul><ul><li>Students creating and maintaining their own content. </li></ul><ul><li>Examples: Google Docs, Flickr, and Facebook </li></ul><ul><li>Beats a $160+ cell phone bill incurred by a naïve graduate student… </li></ul>
  43. 44. Conclusion <ul><li>Put yourself in the student’s shoes (and vice versa). </li></ul><ul><li>Ask questions, open a dialogue. </li></ul><ul><li>Sketch out the user interface and your website. </li></ul><ul><li>Iterations… changing technology and user expectations. </li></ul><ul><li>Have fun, there are very few wrong answers and a lot of right ones . </li></ul>
  44. 45. Resources <ul><li>Information Architecture </li></ul><ul><li>Morville & Rosenfeld: “Information for the World Wide Web, Third Edition” </li></ul><ul><li>Information Architecture Institute (professional organization) </li></ul><ul><li>Boxes and Arrows (peer-written industry journal) </li></ul><ul><li>Information Architecture Summit (annual industry gathering hosted by ASIS&T) </li></ul>
  45. 46. Resources <ul><li>User Experience </li></ul><ul><li>Norman: “The Design of Everyday Things” </li></ul><ul><li>Krug: “Don’t Make Me Think” </li></ul><ul><li>Garrett: “The Elements of User Experience” </li></ul><ul><li>User Experience Network </li></ul><ul><li>PhillyCHI (Interest group for Human-Computer Interaction sponsored by the ACM) </li></ul>
  46. 47. Resources <ul><li> </li></ul><ul><li> </li></ul><ul><li> </li></ul><ul><li> </li></ul><ul><li>Pew Internet and American Life: </li></ul><ul><li>University of Minnesota, Duluth: Information Architecture Resources </li></ul><ul><li>Will be available at </li></ul>
  47. 48. Thank You Dave Cooksey [email_address] Mike Zarro [email_address]