It is time. Time to update your online content. When you are ready to freshen your online content there are some essential questions to ask.
How easy is my online content to:
Read at a Glance
There is a good bit of finessing you can accomplish with a simple rich text editor. Your copy, your text, can remain the same while adding headings and subheadings. This works with your traditional understanding of building an outline for the reader. It is important from the author point of view to also attempt to balance those elements of the outline. This balancing process helps to distill content to the essentials.
White space is an important component often overlooked in online content. It separates paragraphs, it guides the eye, and it provides context for progression through available content on the page.
Reworking your online content is a great time to experiment with chunking. You can work any copy you have into smaller chunks. This might mean distributing across different pages, This might mean distributing across different modules (scaling the distribution up) or distributing copy to different paragraphs on one page (scaling the distribution down).
However, the big idea with chunking if to use the really compelling copy throughout the entire course/module.
Distributed exposure to an idea enhances retention.
Distributing the robust copy throughout the online content enhances the overall quality of the course/module.
Think in terms of what fits on the typical screen of your audience. That approximates how much high quality content to use at a time.
Consider bolding (or highlighting) key points or content-specific vocabulary words. Did you notice the bold words?
Once you have a firm handle on the copy it is time to address the images of your online content. Images can project a mood, set the tone for the teacher-student interaction, and suggest a subtle theme to the online content.
It is considered an art by some content creators to find the just-right image for online content, an image which captures the temperature of the course, the importance of the topic, and the tenor for communications. Images can impact how students interact, share, and ultimately remember your content. Even if you need to get help from someone else, it is worth pursuing the best images for your online content.
Tony Vincent promotes an idea which should capture traditional aged students – InfoPics. An InfoPic is either produced by the instructor or the student. Ideally, both are creating InfoPics about your online content! To create InfoPics student take notes and/or research a topic, find a relevant image and breakdown their new knowledge into what they can impart via text overlays on top of their selected image. This is an intensively content-focused assignment. While the instructor has to provide some starter samples, the volume of future samples should flow from students submissions – and therefore get better every time you give this course!
Speaking of creating images, what if by providing a variety of sized images within your online content you encouraged your students to interact with your content via social media? Student-created InfoPics definitely can be shared, but consider including images within your course which you design to fit the current social media in-stream sharing sizes? Cheat sheets for these right-sized images for social media need to be consulted often as they change frequently, but why would you not want to encourage integrating this facet of student life into your online content?
Your theme can be as subtle as images which match in the sense that:
images are all photos, or clip art (or maybe-skip-the-clip-art), or illustrations – not mixed
images are have the same fonts and or same colors/color pallets for text overlays
images are all of the same subject
As your online content is chunked smaller, it will be easier to move around, to remix. Not only chunking, but those other aspects of organizing your copy with your rich text editor will serve you well. You can drag and drop because of the clear outline you created earlier. Because your images convey a similar theme, they can be moved about your course with little editing.
To remix your content is to pay close attention to how the main points relate and refresh your explanations of those relationships. This should enhance the audience’s understanding of that online content as well. Consider revising your online content every six months (or after the conclusion of the course). You want to work with it long enough to be familiar, but not edit it long enough to look at it a fresh when it is time to revise.
To remix is to honor the audience’s effort in reading and participating. To keep it interesting, revisit online content to add updated information and images without reworking the entire course. The recency of all the content – images and text – is crucial for an audience to feel appreciated and want to learn more.
While remixing for increased audience engagement and enjoyment it is also about boiling the content down to the essence of the course and provide more clarity for your audience. The simpler the explanations of the importance and related nature of your content the better your audience will internalize it.