I was wondering what you all thought of learning designs pertaining to English language teaching? What are the ways in which you design your lessons to achieve better learning in your students?Continue
Let this be the place to moan, praise and let others know what really works and doesn't work here. A permanent place for members to let loose and say what they think about this new experiment -- EFL Classroom 2.0.
The content layout is a challenge to navigate. However, the onus is on me. If I know what I'm looking for, there is a great chance I can find it on EFL Classroom 2.0. HOw can I tell a person who works so hard and constructs these wonderful pages that less is more, especially when I have hardly contributed yet?
Some people want to fill the world with perfect websites. What's wrong with that?
A basic homepage guiding me to more detailed pages will make the site more inviting.
Again, how can I complain? You do great work, Dave. I applaud you and the others that really make the effort to build the site.
Peace and health,
I haven 't spent much time here because of the typography. Everything is a little too small, crowded, and not enough "white" space. Likewise the fonts are not very comfortable for reading either. These factors affect most people on an unconscious level and they don't consciusly think about the fact that these factors make them feel like spending less time here rather than more. But I have some experience in graphic design and am more consciously aware than most of the effects of these factors.
You have some good ideas and some good resources that you're working on. That's much to be appreciated and admired, but my guess is that the typographical defects are decreasing your site traffic considerably. I know it has that effect on me.
Best wishes with you project. It's a very worthwhile effort.
PS. After writing this post, I noticed Sean Reed's comments. Looks like he and I are somewhat on the same page about some factors that are impeding your site.
I hope you are working your way through the "Structure of Modern English" :) Have fun!
I appreciate the comments and had been intending on a whole new look for the anniversary but alas, just toooo busy. If anyone wants to step forward and help design, get things more presentable -- I wildly welcome it.
Good guy -- I've thought this too but am trying to find balance. but you are right and this will be cleared up before Sept. We need a better background/text combination.
Sean -- I've been busy working on a basic index page. Just 3 columns of links to everything -- kind of like a quick reference. Again, coming soon as well eventually a splash page which will help.
I too agree less is more but when it comes to teachers my philosophy is to just give them everything, same with learners. They can sort it out and find what works for their classroom and their own learning.....
I"m trying me best!
Cheers and keep more thoughts about the community a coming...
Sorry, got carried away using the text editor and experimenting with presentation....our text editor is quite good, just loads a little slow...copy and paste.
Well, one thing thing about your font style, size and background color contrast in your reply is that it is a lot easier to read. The type point size is almost too big. Possibly something between this size and that.
PS. It occurred to me that one thing your site visitors could do that wouldn't require too much of their time would be simply to post links here of sites they come across that they believe to be good examples of site design. Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery. So, I'll keep that in mind in my travels on the web and try to do that.
I was sleeplessly in Seoul, doing some reading about backgrounds/texts/fonts last night. I came across the original article I based my current selection of text/background combination. You would be interested in this study.
Still you are right, more S P A C E is needed in presentation and a larger better contrasted font as well. I'll be thinking/making some changes..... slow but sure :)
Before I turned 45, I never even considered increasing font size when cruising the internet. It took about another 2 years before I finally broke down and found out which menu item the little gizmo was listed under... and when push comes to shove, I will go up to view and increase my font size. I don't have to do this on EFL... yet! But sooner or later, it happens to almost all of us. You think web sites are bad, try reading labels!!
The recent redesign, with the drop down menu, has made navigating so much easier. I've been under the impression that because this is a ning, there is not the flexibility in design that there would be in building a stand alone web site. All of the nings I have visited have the same visibility issues... the more info, the more crowed and difficult to navigate. David, I so applaud your efforts in this area. It is so much more readable than when I first started visiting! Maybe practice has helped a little bit too :)
What I would like to see, and what affects me much more than design issues, is more interaction between members! Giving feedback to others is probably the most important thing you can do to support a ning. I'm active in two other nings, Fireside Learning and Hor Les Murs. Both have a core group that is committed to responding to each other, even when the post might be a little outside his/her interest area. There is a spirit of generosity with feedback. This has been essential for my participation. On Hors, for example, the site is in French, and I don't even speak the language! But almost 100% of the time, when I post someone will make the effort to respond. And I do the same in return. (We use google translate, mostly, to communicate).
So my question is, how does a sense of community develop in a ning? Or are people satisfied with EFL being basically a repository for curriculum? I know I enjoy posting much more when I feel a sense of friendship with the group. David, I think your monthly newsletter will be great in encouraging a sense of community, but it can't begin and end with only you! Other members need to feel a sense of responsibility in keeping it going. Little efforts can make a big difference, like saying hi in the chat box when you get on, posting an encouraging word when you use someone's curriculum, leaving a comment on someone's ME page... and taking the risk to post, even if you are unsure how it will be received.
PS Good Guy, have you seen examples of nings with beautiful/ useful designs?
I don't even know what a ning is. So, I guess that answers your question. I've never been to another website that has .ning as part of its URL though I have been to some that have .wordpress as part of their names.
PS. But I did notice that the font seems to have changed to a sans serif font since last night which makes it quite a bit easier to read.
Thanks for your thoughtful response. I'll add my two cents and a few words about my "rational" for this network which might help clarify a few things.
1. I'm always learning and I spend A LOT of time really getting ontop of all the things that might make this network better, be presented better and which in the end might add to teacher's lessons and more importantly (the end game) , student learning. Lots others don't see ..... :) I'm glad the drop downs make things easier.
2. My focus for this network is "content". Forums are important but I really was frustrated by the dearth and further, the commercialization of content on the internet, vis a vis teaching. I believe strongly teaching and in particular EFL teaching with its very "transient" population -- really needs a place where teachers don't have to spend days going helter skelter and spending oodles of money, to get what they need. So I proceed collecting, refining and making things better and more accessible. But I'm also learning :)
I do hope there will be more "community" and that was part of my decision to make others register. The "broken windows" theory.....that if you even invest a little, you will have some ownership and contribute, help, aid, participate....keep things clean and functioning....
3. I take a long view. Let's be patient. It takes time to create a great network on a very small budget. I want quality and I think we have that. I could have easily went for a small network with many "tight" members but I rejected that (as per above and other reasons....). Community will happen on a larger network but it will take more time too.....
4. I really believe in the future of technology, for poor and rich alike. Especially for providing poor students, who can't get to America etc....with the means to learn English, participate in this world/international culture and live as international citizens. That's my over arching rational -- the view that education is about bringing others together and in that momentous encounter -- education will happen and the world will be a better place. I know this is one very small thing but I believe it does make a difference.....big difference....
5. Good Guy. You don't need to go to any other Nings :) But check out Classroom 2.0 which I used to participate in a lot......but it has lost any personal touch and I really think it is because there isn't a core of members as Ellen mentions, who care... I do that here but it will also develop.
Yes, the font has changed and I will still tinker. I actually also lightened the background also. But a bigger overall is forthcoming. But I thank you GG for prompting me to change things. I love Connie's Fireside Ellen, but don't you think the contrast is really distracting. I mean, the light on Dark background? From all my reading, this is said to be a no no and maybe Good guy can confirm.
But Ellen, your comments are well received that it is up to ALL of us to contribute in ways we can to make a healthy community. I grew up in a small town and never realized all the work in the background and how just the small things each person did, "made" the town so wonderful.
I'm sure there is lots of other stuff that can be better -- bring it on!
PS. Ellen, the newsletter I hope to get help on. But I assure others it WILL always arrive the beginning of the month and it is a better, more regular way to get community happening and to communicate with the membership here....
I love Connie's Fireside Ellen, but don't you think the contrast is really distracting. I mean, the light on Dark background? From all my reading, this is said to be a no no and maybe Good guy can confirm.
Yes, I clicked on that link and went there briefly. A very uncomfortable degree of contrast. Very dark backgrounds are uncomfortable for any extended text reading. They may be good for some attention-getting graphic design, but not for any extended text reading.
Lightening your background a little and changing to a sans serif font has made this page a much more comfortable place to spend time.
Keep up the good work.
PS. I also like the fact that we can get back in for a few minutes to edit our posts. I almost always think of something else I want to say or re-phrase or at least notice mis-spellings or proofreading errors that I want to fix. Just twitchy, I guess.
Well David, I have to say that it is the attitude of one of the members on Fireside that is distracting me at the moment! :D And sometimes the pseudo intellectual tone gets to me... but I had to go back and look to see if the design elements make it difficult for me to read posts :) I think when I first joined it bothered me a bit, but I've gotten used to it. I know I am always grateful that I don't have to compose on a dark bg with light type...
Honestly, David, when I first went on EFL, I could tell it was not done by a web designer. I found this earnest and charming :D, kind of like "real" ESL teachers often are :). As far as ease on the eyes, I have found Hors to be the softest read, which is interesting, because that ning uses a pattern background, and a different design in the header, and yet it all pulls together (I think this is because of the color palette, the soft browns used throughout). I have assumed that Vincent either had that artistic sense himself, or had a friend who helped him with it.
The second, and maybe most essential element to a useful site is the structure or organization of the materials, so users can logically progress through the information. This is where you took a giant leap in your last redesign. I have assumed that because this is a ning, and because I have the same difficulty navigating in all the nings I have visited, you are working with coding limitations, but I don't know what they are! I'll write you about what I think would be ideal for presenting voicethreads, how I wish I could display them in my classroom, and see if it is possible...
One question, as I go on to respond to Good Guy, is there a reason you don't use threaded discussions?
Hi Good Guy! I agree with you 100% about readability issues and white space. For myself, I find the same navigating issues over and over on nings... none of them are as easy to navigate as a well-designed stand alone web site! I think this is because the ning administrators are working within a certain template, with a range of choices but not the freedom to code at will :). The trade-off is we get all these social networking features. Once you get the hang of navigating the nings (the underlying structure of them is all pretty much the same), the annoying aspects fade into the background :).
That's my user interpretation of it, anyway.
But if you come across a great ning design/ structure, I'd love to take a look.