Instructional design/Online Presentations/Organizing Content

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Content is Well Organized[edit | edit source]

Now that our content has been sorted to only include what is most important, we can turn to organization. Being thoughtful about the way you organize your content can help your learners gain more understanding (and retention!) of your information by reducing the cognitive load associated with learning it. That is, your presentation will become more effective. In this section, we will discuss tried and true cognitive strategies for how to chunk content.

Chunking[edit | edit source]

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Think about the last time you went to the store. Did you get a basket or a cart? Why? We usually use a cart or a basket at the store when we need to hold more things than our hands can carry.

Your working memory is similar to your hands - it can only hold so much stuff before it starts dropping (forgetting) things. What we can carry in our working memory is called the cognitive load. We can carry more if we reduce the cognitive load. Chunking is a strategy to reduce cognitive load, and by reducing cognitive load we help learners retain more information. We are giving them a basket to put some of the content into, so that they can hold more.

Follow these steps to chunk content

  1. Divide information into logical chunks of about 7 items each. For more complicated information chunk a max of 5 items, for easier content max of 9 items
  2. Label each chunk with a name that relates to its content and will help the learner (these chunks become the structure)
  3. Present the chunks as the structure of the presentation
  4. Present all knowledge for each chunk until they have all been presented
  5. Follow up with an overview of structure again

Look carefully at steps 3-5. These steps are actually a method for sequencing content called, "structure of content". You may have heard it more commonly referred to as, "Tell them what you're going to tell them, tell them, and then tell them what you told them". Steps 3-5 ask you to do exactly that.

The online presentation tool, Prezi, can be incredibly helpful when making a visual presentation that uses this principle. Prezi allows you to view the entire presentation at the beginning, zoom into each content piece individually, transition out to the whole, then into the next content piece (repeat until all pieces have been discussed), and then end with the overview.

Types of Chunks[edit | edit source]

There are many ways that you can chunk your content. The best way to chunk will depend on the information being presented. Here are some examples of ways to chunk content.

Type of Chunk Example
Chronological History of World War I
Sequential Steps to upload a file
Simple to Complex Algebra Problems
Problem/Solution Landfills vs Recycling
Spatial Characteristics of East and West Germany
Causal Metal Salts + Flame = Colored Fire
Comparison Modern vs. Classic Sculpture
Categorical Types of Chemicals

Let's Practice[edit | edit source]

Choose the best choice for each question below.

1 Think about the pumping gas example. What type of chunking seems most appropriate for this content?

A: Sequential
B: Spatial
C: Categorical
D: Comparison

2 How should content be structured in the presentation?

A: Chunks of Content, Conclusion, Overview
B: Chunks of Content, Overview, Conclusion
C: Overview, Chunks of Content, Conclusion
D: Overview, Conclusion, Chunks of Content

As soon as you get all greens, it's time to move on! You have done a lot already! The goal is determined, content is sorted to match the goal, and now the content is organized. Click "Next" to move on to the visual elements, starting with our third rubric item: Typography.

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