Title:Let's Be Specific: Predicting Return on Investment in On-line Learning Activity Design
Authors:Stephen Brown
Publication:MW2007: Museums and the Web 2007

This paper examines the extent to which user-centred design can be applied to the development of effective learning experiences in museum Web sites. If it is good practice to formatively test Web designs during development to ensure they deliver what they are supposed to, then arguably this applies as much to learning activities as well. But we cannot test predictively if we don't know what the design is intended to achieve. So if the purpose is to support and encourage learning, then specifying learning outcomes is essential. While some authors argue that specific learning outcomes are undesirable because they limit the usability or relevance of an activity, this paper suggests that they are essential because they offer a benchmark against which designers, Museum directors and funding bodies can measure how effective the investment of time, money, and imagination has been. Prediction is not the same as prescription, and well designed learning activities based on predictive learning outcomes need not result in learning activities that proscribe alternative uses.