pattern #10 - Title

Activity Title

Definition

Provide each learning activity with a clear title that will activate prior knowledge and help learners organize new information.

  • VALUE Activate Prior Knowledge
  • COMPLEXITY Medium
  • Design Effort Low
  • Share

Evidence-Based Research

While the title of an activity might seem trivial, it has a key role in the learning process as it helps learners to recall or build schemas (or mental representation) so that they can better store information in the long-term memory and recall it when they need to. One great example of how this works is an experiment carried out by John Bransford and Marcia Johnson (1972), where a text was given to participants, who were then asked to recall the procedure.
“The procedure is actually quite simple. First you arrange things into different groups… Of course, one pile may be sufficient depending on how much there is to do. If you must go somewhere else due to lack of facilities that is the next step, otherwise you are pretty well set. It is important not to overdo any endeavour. That is, it is better to do too few things at once than too many. In the short run this may not seem important, but complications from doing too many can easily arise. A mistake can be expensive as well… At first the whole procedure will seem complicated. Soon, however, it will become just another facet of life. It is difficult to foresee any end to the necessity for this task in the immediate future, but then one never can tell. After the procedure is completed one arranges the materials into different groups again. Then they can be put into their appropriate places. Eventually they will be used once more and the whole cycle will have to be repeated. However, that is part of life.”
Most participants had difficulties understanding the text, let alone remembering the procedure. However, when the “Washing clothes” title was given, the procedure became clear and straightforward, as the title provided a schema to recall information that helped to better process and organize information.
This means we need to create a title that makes very clear for learners on what that activity is all about, even if that means using more than just a couple of words. While it is ideal to be short, research says that a good title

DESIGN

Finding the right title and placing it right may generate some headaches.

Activity Rating Pattern
Length

While we all have this tendency to create short titles, we need to make sure that these are revealing the content within that activity.
As I find titles are being very important within a learning activity and with not enough research being available, I always do a 10-minute test with some of my colleagues who work on different projects. The test is simple: for those activities where finding a good title can be a challenge, I just create several titles, ranging from 1 to 15 words, and just ask them to describe the activity they are expecting. This is how you can really make sure you have a good title.
While I hope more research in this area will be available in the next couple of years, my experience tells me that longer titles are better for eLearning.

Tree Menu
Place

Where to place the title can be an ongoing debate. Some argue that the title needs to be clearly visible on the stage while others will argue that titles tend to take a lot from the broadcasting area. Placing your title will greatly depend on the type of activity you create.
For interactive activities, you can easily place it at the start of the activity, alongside a more detailed description of the activity and work instructions, just like in the previous example.
Video content platforms, such as Udemy, Coursera and EdX tend to place the title in the auto-hide header, as well as in the navigation pane.


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