The user interface of an Ali Framework course is fixed. The elements cannot be transformed or moved in any way. However, the elements can be themed to reflect the overarching theme or story the course utilizes for its content. The difference between theming and transforming is simple, but may be confusing to those not familiar with the concept.
For instance, if the course used the overarching theme of a circus and told the story of different performers for each module, the course backing could be given a background of a circus tent and the content area styled to look like a playbill, with navigation elements that used the colors of the scene. The next button could be the same red of the tent, and have an elephant peek out from behind it when the user hovers or focuses the button. This is an example of theming.
However, developers could not change the next button to be an elephant with the word next on it’s body or clothing, or move the button to be a flap on the side of the tent. This is an example of transforming.
Why the Distinction
All user interfaces, no matter how simple, require some degree of attention, cognition and memory to navigate, and human cognitive resources for learning new, abstract concepts are limited. Keeping a consistent user interface that follows expected patterns reduces the cognitive burden on the user, allowing more working memory for them to internalize learning content.
While novelty definitely aids in memory and learning, applying novelty to the UI can have negative side effects, such as causing the user’s brain to prioritize learning the interface over the content, limit the amount of learning the user can effectively gather from content or bind the content to the novelty of the UI itself.
So if the learners can’t remember OSIS screens without thinking they need to click the elephant…
Course Theme Philosophy
Creating complex, novel UI’s takes a large amount of time and requires a large amount of art and lead development hours to build, which means longer development time, longer wait time until the lead’s queue is clear and most importantly, less effective courses.
eBusiness encourages course creators to focus not on the user interface, but on the story and theme of the content and the interactions themselves. Spending more time writing an overarching story and ensuring each interaction is written and themed to reinforce that story takes less development time and benefits the user — which is the point of the course.
Keep in mind that all interactions can be themed and while the behavior of each interaction must be consistent (the Submit needs to be a submit button, checkboxes have to be checkboxes, etc.) the theme of each interaction can be different. A multiple choice question in Module 1 can be a stylized lion’s cage, while the multiple choice question in Module 2 could be a tent with the question inside. What matters is the behavior, placement and shape of the interactive elements.