Engaging Learners Through Intuitive Interfaces



This chapter acquaints the reader with key concepts associated with learner engagement by examining the user interface from cognitive, semiotic, psychological, artistic and pedagogical perspectives. Technology affords educators with a new way to present course content that is no longer text only, paper constrained, linearly organized and visually flat. Engaged learning can borrow from the interactive and community-based activities prevalent on the Internet. The use of gaming, role-playing, blogging, instant messaging and chat coupled with multimedia modalities that address multiple learning styles has the capacity or stimulate today’s technology savvy learners. By employing these familiar methodologies to learning, educators can better meet the needs of a new student demographic that has grown up with computers, is predominantly visually oriented, watches rather than listens to music on MTV, uses Google as a key reference tool, shops online and accesses news through 24/7 online streaming feeds. These students expect to take part in experiential and authentic learning in unconventional and engaging ways. However, new ways of learning require new teaching methodologies. The traditional forms of teaching do not transition well to the engaging online environment. The authors, using a three-phase model as a foundation for creating engaging user interfaces, will explore the cognitive and visual elements of effective interface design that engage learners through intuitive and direct interaction. By deconstructing a series of educational interfaces that are functional, usable, communicative, and aesthetically appropriate, readers will learn to identify the visual and cognitive demands of a knowledge domain that creates engaging, interactive results.


engagement interaction GUI graphical user interface design 


Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.


  1. 123 Count with me. (2004) Sydney: NSW Department of Education and Training, Instructional Design Shirley Agostinho, John Hedberg, Kerry Long, Vicki Lowery and Rob Wright, Graphic Design, Karl Mutimer.Google Scholar
  2. Berryman, G. (1979) Notes on Graphic Design and Visual Communication. Los Altos, CA.: William Kaufmann, Inc.Google Scholar
  3. Csikszentmihalyi, M. (1996) Thoughts about education, In D. Dickinson (Ed.) Creating The Future: Perspectives on Educational Change, Seattle, WA: New Horizons for Learning. Retrieved November 20, 2001 from Scholar
  4. Duffy, T. M., & Cunningham, D. J., (1996). Constructivism: Implications for the design and delivery of instruction. In D. H. Jonassen, (Ed.) Handbook of Research for Educational Communications and Technology, NY: Macmillan Library Reference USA. pp. 170–198.Google Scholar
  5. Ferry, B., Hedberg, J. G., & Harper, B. M. (1997). Using concept mapping to help pre-service teachers map subject matter knowledge. Paper presented to the Australian Association for Research in Education 1997 Annual Conference, Brisbane, 30th November to 4th December.Google Scholar
  6. Hannafin, M. J., & Land, S. M. (1997). The foundations and assumptions of technology-enhanced student-centered learning environments. Instructional Science, 25, 167–202.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. Hedberg, J. G., & Sims, R. (2001). Speculations on design team interactions. Journal of Interactive Learning Research, 12(2/3), 189–214.Google Scholar
  8. Hedberg, J. G., Harper, B. Lockyer, L. Ferry, B. Brown, C., & Wright, R. (1998). Supporting learners to solve ill-structured problems. In R. Corderoy, (Ed.) Flexibility: the Next Wave. Proceedings of the 15th Annual Conference of the Australasian Society for Computers in Learning in Tertiary Education. December 14th–16th, Wollongong, NSW: University of Wollongong. pp. 317–327.Google Scholar
  9. Hedberg, J. G., Harper, B. M., Brown, C, & Corderoy, R, (1994). Exploring user interfaces to improve learner outcomes. In K. Beatie, C McNaught, & S. Wills, (Eds.), Interactive Multimedia in University Education: Designing for Change in Teaching and Learning. Amsterdam: North Holland, Elsevier, pp 15–29.Google Scholar
  10. Herrington, A., Herrington, J. Sparrow, L. & Oliver, R. (1999). Investigating mathematics education using multimedia. Journal of Technology and Teacher Education, 7(3), 175–186.Google Scholar
  11. Hicks, R. and Essinger, J. (1991) Making Computers More Human: Designing for Human-Computer Interaction. Oxford, UK: Elsevier Advanced Technology, pp. 75–76.Google Scholar
  12. Jonassen, D. & Tessmer, M. (1996–1997). An Outcomes-based Taxonomy for Instructional Systems Design, Evaluation and Research. Training Research Journal, 2, 11–46.Google Scholar
  13. Jonassen, D. H. (1997). Instructional Design Models for Well-Structured and Ill-structured Problem-Solving Learning Outcomes. Educational Technology Research and Development, 45(1), 65–94.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  14. Jonassen, D. H., & Reeves, T. C. (1996) Learning with Technology: Using Computers as Cognitive Tools. In D. H. Jonassen, (Ed.) Handbook of Research on Educational Communications and Technology. New York Scholastic Press in collaboration with the Association for Educational Communications and Technology, Chapter 25.Google Scholar
  15. Kearsley, G. and Shneiderman, B. (1999) Engagement theory: A framework for technology-based teaching and Learning, April 5,1999. Retrieved November 20, 2001 from Scholar
  16. Laurel, B. (1993). Computers as Theatre. Reading, MA: Addison-Wesley.Google Scholar
  17. Lave, J. & Wenger, E. (1991). Situated learning: Legitimate peripheral practice. New York: Cambridge University Press.Google Scholar
  18. Marton, F. and Saljo, R. (1976) On qualitative differences in learning: Outcome and process, British Journal of Educational Psychology, 46, 4–11.Google Scholar
  19. Metros, S.E. (1999). Making connections: a model for online interaction,” Leonardo: Journal of the Internationa l Society for the Arts Sciences and Technology, 32(4), 281–291Google Scholar
  20. Metros, S.E. (2001). Visually engaging online learners. LlinE: Lifelong Learning in Europe, 6(2), 85–95.Google Scholar
  21. Murray, T. (1999). Authoring Intelligent Tutoring Systems: An analysis of the state of the art. International Journal of Artificial Intelligence in Education, 10, 98–129.Google Scholar
  22. Nielsen, J. (1993). Usability Engineering. Boston, MA: Academic Press.Google Scholar
  23. Norman, D. (1988). The Psychology of Everyday Things. New York, NY: Basic Books.Google Scholar
  24. Savery, J. R., & Duffy, T. M. (1996). Problem Based Learning: An instructional model and its constructivist framework. In B. G. Wilson (Ed.), Constructivist Learning Environments: Case Studies in Instructional Design. Englewood Cliffs, NJ: Educational Technology Publications. pp. 135–148.Google Scholar
  25. Tufte, E. R. (1990). Envisioning Information. Cheshire, CT: Graphics Press. 31. Software ExampleGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer 2006

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Macquarie UniversityAustralia
  2. 2.Ohio State UniversityUSA

Personalised recommendations