Eye Tracking Laboratory

University of Pavia

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B6 - Course Plan representation for hierarchical courses

Issue Definition

Course Plan in hierarchically structured courses is usually represented by a Table Of Contents (TOC) placed in a suitable Index Page. It has been also observed that the structure of the course gathers key information on the course itself and users strongly focus their attention on it. In the Index Page, all key information issues that can be accessed in the course have to be presented simply and effectively.

Guideline Text

1. The Index Page should be placed in a prominent position within the course:
1.a The Index Page should be the first node of the course structure.

2. The TOC should clearly reflect course structure:
2.a The TOC can be effectively represented by a Navigation Menu Tree;
2.b The TOC should reflect the information architecture and course granularity, provided that readability is not affected.

3. The TOC in the Index Page should be condensed in order to show the first levels of the structure only:
3.a Multilevel indexes can be useful to show course development, but the secondary levels should not be visible at first;
3.b They may be readable by expanding first level items in a sort of pull down menus;
3.c Moreover, secondary levels pages should not be directly accessible from the Index Page, for the safeguard of course correct sequence.

4. Wording of TOC should be accurate:
4.a The words have to be chosen carefully; they have to be effective and meaningful;
4.b It is desirable to have few words;
4.c They should match the title of the page they are linked to.

5. The TOC itself should be placed in a prominent position within the Index Page:
5.a The TOC should be visible, and easily identifiable.

6. Whenever the TOC or part of it is replicated within the course, all instances should follow the same pattern set in the Index Page.

7. Hierarchical courses with a linear navigation path should have a direct link (visible and easily accessible) to course first topic.

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