We were given powerpoints which were generated by a content expert. These laid out the content to cover, and included notes for possible animations and interactive activities. Some modules also included word documents with quiz questions.
2 Creating a Metaphor.
After reviewing all the data that the module would offer, I wrote down all the possible metaphors that might be relevant. In this case, I focused on things that you might find under the ground (including zombies, pirate treasure, a cemetery, layers of a cake, Egyptian tombs, Dig Dug, and more. I also randomly jotted down Peggle, car engines, gym trainers, and doctors with clipboards, though I couldn’t tell you now why I thought these might work).
Then I considered what navigation approach would match the amount of data. In this case I didn’t see a strong need for a drag and drop approach, despite the suggestion in the PowerPoints. Mostly I guess I couldn’t think of 5 items that could be dragged into the dirt to represent organic matter, tilth, nitrogen, microbes, and disease, so it seemed confusing to force the activity.
Initially I tried to think up ways to tie into Chinese culture. Through wikipedia I found that Chinese Medicine often focuses on 5 elements, which seemed like happy coincidence (because I was going to present 5 best practices). I also discovered Shennong, also known as the Emperor of the Five Grains (Wǔgǔxiāndì), who was a legendary ruler of China and culture hero attributed with inventing several health practices. I thought I might approximate Shennong as the narrator, but early experiments with both of these ideas were distracting and confusing.
I figured early on that animations could be easily reused, so I storyboarded out some ideas for each (see sketches at right). It took about a day to make each (drawn with a Wacom Cintiq, animated in Adobe Flash, and edited together in Adobe Premiere). Since some of the words were confusing me, I added definitions to the introduction page (taken from Google searches). I focused on a linear navigation to ensure no user could accidentally skip anything, which turned the drag and drop activity into an unnecessary distraction. After seeing the success my teammates had with this navigation trick, I ended up re-implementing it.
4 Team feedback guided improvements and expansions.
The final version of my module, focused in on the idea of a soil cube. Each of the best practices was expanded into multiple pages, with multiple videos to give the content more room to breathe.