Adventures in message design

I created this module to help new instructional designers apply principles of message design to the creation of online materials. Message design brings together a number of different disciplines (e.g., cognitive psychology, graphic design, user experience design) to consider how words, symbols, and images can be manipulated to make them easier to comprehend and use.

I created a self-paced, scenario-based e-Learning module to allow users to experience a web redesign project in various stages.  Because I assumed that learners would enter the course with their own perceptions and routines, I used the story of Little Red Riding Hood (Red) as a metaphor throughout the module to allow learners to step outside their own processes.  Learners are required to redesign a website at an information kiosk to get Red safely through a wolf-ridden forest.  Because the story would be familiar to most, I reasoned that learners would be less focused on the actual details of the message and more focused on the design principles they’d need to apply. However, the learning tasks, approaches, and consequences of failing to apply design principles were very real-world. For example, inappropriate design choices would cause Red would pass by an uninteresting website or fail to obtain important messages.

I used action-mapping  (Moore, 2008) as a model for creating this lesson, identifying what learners need to be able to do and then considering what they need to know. The module was designed so that learners could approach it non-linearly.  Despite the metaphor used, the learning situation, content and tasks are relevant and authentic and represent the complexity learners see in their work environments.

Moore, C. (2008, May 12). Be an elearning action hero! [Web log post]. Retrieved from



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