How I’ve come to understand the role of text and hypertext in teaching
By: Andrew McGuffee
How does text and hypertext benefit the student?
Some people view the nonlinear structure of hypertext to be a feature that complicates the process of learning but this is not necessarily so. There are a number of reasons why I think this, but perhaps one of the more compelling is that using both text and hypertext seems to provide the user with a more enriched learning experience. The hybrid delivery of textual and hypertextual material allows the student a chance to receive information through several different channels as appose to just one. Along with this benefit of flexibility for the student, comes the added bonus of allowing the instructor to have more control over tailoring the material. This helps connect with both teacher and student on a more personal level. Overall, I see the benefit of combining text and hypertext in E-learning environments as one that helps combat complacency in the student and allows for better understanding of materials.
“This perspective of learning is relevant to hypertext-based learning because hypertext offers the possibility of coming at a topic from various perspectives.”
-Shapiro & Niederhauser
For me personally, I still consider myself a rookie when comes to getting the most out of hypertext. What I’m discovering from the never ending and contrasting approaches to instructional design is that one size does not fit all! One truth seems to be that the more you understand about your target audience, the better off you are. This crucial piece of the puzzle can help the designer cultivate a text layered with hypertext that is placed in just the right spot to help enhance the learning experience for the user. Ideally, small test groups could be conducted to help instructors achieve a better understanding of how to maximize the effectiveness of links, videos, and digital imagery. As a designer I would like to understand my audience before engaging them. If the learner is unexperienced with the material I would like to encourage them and at the same time not overwhelm them. If the user is more experienced I would want to challenge them while also keeping their interest in the subject matter. Like most things in life it seems to come down to balance and the understanding of how best to achieve it.