Image is everything. We don't like to admit it, but it's true.
You're hungry. And because of the COVID-19 quarantine, you decide to treat yo' self to some delish home-delivered local restaurant fare. So you go to the interwebs and type in, "restaurants near me" and find two, within the genre of food you so desire. You click on the first one. It has their menu, followed by photos of some of their most popular dishes. Each photograph looks heavenly, with steam, and glistening morsels. The perspective of the photo has the food in the foreground and the dining area slightly blurry in the background. You think to yourself, "This is what I want to eat. But, I need to check out the other restaurant."
So you click on restaurant #2's link. They, too, have their menu, equally as yummy sounding, and have photographs of their most popular dishes. But, in the pictures, you see the food from an ariel view. You noticed there is no steam, no glistening morsels, and a flash glare causing surrounding items on the table to have shadows. Nothing you see in their pictures shouts, "This is food of the gods, old and new!"
In Dr. Bobbe Baggio's book, The Visual Connection: Best practices for teachres, trainers, and SMEs, she says that when we are creating presentations, we need to do these five things:
Another way to be thinking of the end user, is using visuals that help with a process. You need to make a copy of restaurant #1's menu for the annual staff party. Now, think about the copy machine in your staff room. If it's like the many copy machines I have come across in my teaching career, it has been known to be "out of order" from time to time. Now, sometimes that "out of order" means it is something that you can fix, the office manager can fix, or the technician from the copy machine company has to come out to fix. In any situation, a visual guide is neccessary for the operation of the machine. We have to find where the problem exists, and then solve it with a manual if we do not know how to fix it.
In the book, Developing Technical Training, A Structured Approach for Developing Classroom and Computer-based Instructional Materials by Ruth C. Clark, she says there are three types of processes, or systems--Business, Technical, and Scientific. In order to fix the aforementioned copy machine, we may need to rely on people in the business system. For example, in order to fix a problem such as, refilling the copy machine with the appropriate size paper, my school requires a staff member of the office, use a key to unlock the shelving with paper, and they refill the machine. We both work for the same "company", but are part of two different systems. I, as a teacher, do not have the same access as the office staff.
If I see that the problem of the copy machine is not as simple as refilling paper, I may need to look at the technical manual of the machine. Many machines have the manual located within the bottom of the machine, and/or be a digital step-by-step guide on the touchscreen of the machine. Why use a digital guide? Well, the copy machine company was thinking of the end user and decided that rather than have a user have to search through endless pages of a technical manual, the machine itself could tell the user what needs to be fixed--instantly! In either case, they both will have visual guides, along with labels, for the user to follow. Without this explicit guidance, copy machine companies would be seding out technicians constantly to do something as simple as replace toner or get paper out of a jammed area.
The S.I.T.E. Model is one that emphasizes keeping the end learner in mind while designing. This model takes subcontext into consideration when designing. You need to know where the learner's lenses are through which they see. In the "Technical" subcontext part of the S.I.T.E. Model, one must think about the end user's prior knowledge. If a teacher is having trouble with the copy machine, the copy machine company needs to make sure that the manual is written for the person with the least amount of exposure to using a copy machine. They cannot assume that a user has previously used, let alone fix, a copy machine. In my own practice, when I'm designing a lesson using technology, not only do I have to scaffold the lesson, I need to take into consideration that my end user may not have used this type of technology before. Therefore, my lesson has to reflect this.
Sarah Magallano teaches 5th grade. She also coaches teachers on integrating art & engineering into their lesson plans.