‘A great user interface follows human interface design principles that are based on the way people (users) think and work, not on the capabilities of the device. A user interface that is unattractive, convoluted, or illogical can make even a great application seem like a chore to use. But a beautiful, intuitive, compelling user interface enhances an application’s functionality and inspires a positive emotional attachment in users.’
Apple Human Interface Principles
There is considerable body of evidenced that has demonstrated that student learning can be enhanced by utilizing specific multimedia design principles within blended learning environments. (Mayer, 2001, 2009). If good design impacts upon affect (engagement) and usability (productivity) the question that arises is: ‘Do the ICT tools and digital resources teachers utilise in their blended learning environments have an evidence based design philosophy and if not, why not?’
Apple’s Human Interface Guidelines which incorporate the Human Interface Principles and User Experience Guidelines are based upon highly multi-disciplinary fields, incorporating aspects of psychology, anthropology, sociology, computer science, graphic design, industrial design and cognitive science. The discipline of education shares common features with most if not all of these disciplines. Given how intuitive Apple’s devices are there is much that the education profession can learn from Apple’s design principles and guidelines, when implementing a blended learning methodology. Failure to follow these design rules rules can lead to a disabling learning environment through effecting how:
- easily learners can accomplish basic tasks the first time they encounter the design,
- quickly learners can perform tasks,
- easily learners can recover from making an error.
Whether it be implementing a learning management system such as Moodle or edmodo, mobile apps or a digital resources such as an ePub there are several key design issues teachers need to consider:
- How well does the appearance of the app/resource integrate with its function?
- How does the app/resource allow learners to transfer their knowledge and skills from one app/resource to another?
- How do learners directly manipulate onscreen objects instead of using separate controls to manipulate them?
- How does the app/resource provide learners with feedback of their actions or progress?
- What metaphors are used with virtual objects and actions in the app/ resource to anchor their thinking?
Not surprisingly post PC era devices such as the iPads (and the associated apps they run) tightly follow Apple’s Human Interface Guidelines and as such are more usable and have a higher utility than the over laden menus and button bars of Microsoft Office and Adobe Photoshop. This results in a significantly lower learning (and implementation) curve that enables the teacher and students to focus on the real learning goals.