The principles of screen design for computer-based learning materials
The critical interface between learners and computer-based learning materials is the screen. If the display of learning is not effective then learning will be hindered. Screen design is therefore an important element in the design of computer-based learning. This research investigated the three fundamental screen design elements of text, colour and graphics. A review of literature, experimental design and a limited survey of computer-based learning materials provided the background for this research. The experimental materials reflected the results of the review and survey by using representative subjects, providing a learning focus and employing computerbased materials. Two experiments were undertaken. The Colour and Graphics experiments considered the effects of a number of variables on learners' behaviour which included: the use of colour; the size and type of graphics; the learner's prior knowledge of tutorial subject; and the complexity of the display. The results of this research showed that colour is a powerful motivating force as long as it is not used excessively. This was identified as the use of more than seven colours. Graphics can be used more extensively in current computer-based learning materials and users preferred representational graphics occupying a quarter to a half of the screen. However, learners were not prepared to make the effort to either use analogical graphics to make links with their prior knowledge or to extract information contained in the structure and form of logical graphics. Subjects were motivated by representational graphics. Learners' behaviour in relation to the various screen displays they encountered was affected by their prior knowledge of the tutorial content. This was apparent in their choice of options (additional modules) within the tutorial, their methods of interacting with the material and their responses to individual displays.