SUPERIOR HYPERTEXT

Riitta Suominen  
 
 

 
What makes your message interesting?

Plan your strategy in accordance with the recipient
What is most important for the recipient?
The material must have an overall outline
Manuscript writing is a special skill of its own
Readability, popularisation and style
 
Production of Web materials can be illustrated with a triangle where the top is the idea, the middle contains the strategic choices and the bottom is the production process. The crucial idea is not often considered very consciously; instead, the project is started on the basis of old overhead slides, lecture notes and existing templates. However, time should be spent on the basic idea - as a matter of fact, the authors should arrange a brainstorming session for free exchange of implementation methods, authors and content, etc. Even if brainstorming does not change the basic arrangement, it will provide new ideas for implementation and sever the authors from established practices. An advantage of Web material authoring is that models are also sought from home pages, software and games. However, the text - or at least the way of writing - is easily migrated from existing sources.



Plan your strategy in accordance with the recipient

When planning the strategy, the recipient's need for information and ability to receive it, as well the overall circumstances, must be taken into consideration. The material should therefore be re-adapted every time the target audience changes. In other words, the message should be focused so that it is significant from the recipient's viewpoint and that the recipient is willing and able to understand it. The sender is responsible for getting the message through.

In recipient-oriented material

  • Content has been selected in accordance with the reader's needs
  • New information is linked to earlier information and observations
  • The style has been edited for intelligibility
 
 
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What is most important for the recipient?

Well-focused communications are built out of a message and an outline. The author of any communications must always have a message - that is, something to say. Attention should be paid to both content and to the recipient's needs in formulating the message: what is the most important thing for the recipient in the matter? What benefits and interests him/her the most? What can the message in practice really mean to him/her? The message is therefore not determined merely according to the inner logic of the subject but also in keeping with the recipient.

Useful content only is selected from the online texts by means of its essential message - in other words, its headings: texts are not generally read in order from beginning to end. The producers of materials should take this into account so that the materials also serve the browsing type of reading mode. The headings thereby play a key role, because they function as search words and as product descriptions for the text sections. The reader can quickly pick and choose the important points from a personal point of view from the textual flow on the basis of these captions. The reader should not be forced or taught to read online text in a different way, but of course you may always try to lure him/her to do so!

The message is expressed in the heading or, in other words, the 'point'. This more often than not resolves whether or not the reader's interest will be aroused. The reader must comprehend with one glance what the benefit and meaning of the matter is to him/her. One should devote enough time to fashioning headings, because the perusal value of a caption is five times greater than the rest of the text. The headings should be brief, interesting and informative: they give at best a total concept of the content and attract attention to the text itself.

 

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The material must have an overall outline

In network learning, the totality should be clearly discernible. A clear overall configuration and the predictability connected with the same also improve the usability of online learning. Paradoxically, the fascination of the material is nevertheless increased by a certain sense of the unexpected and multiplicity - in quite the same way as games. The unexpected should therefore be benefited from in the material in such a manner that the overall configuration is retained.

 
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Manuscript writing is a special skill of its own

An online-material manuscript demands at least two rounds: a structural plan and a script which proceeds according to a screen display. Both should be worked on in an overlapping manner. The overall structure easily has a tendency in the learning material to observe a traditional linear style of progression, so that various structural alternatives should be looked at and conceptualized before the final selection. In online materials, what frequently works best is a combination of linear, hierarchical, rectangular or network-like structures.

Online text is modular in character: it is composed of many independent parts which must also be delivered as their own complete entities. Modular writing generally proceeds best if the content is measured out directly into online reference scripting advancing from one screen display to the next, and a traditional linear manuscript is forgotten entirely. Text modules on the net should be brief but meaningful: a good result is obtained when five pages are condensed into one, i.e., the text is packed according to the 1:5 principle. With this sort of packing ratio, it is normally only the repetition which is lost.

 
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Readability, popularisation and style

The production of good online materials is a special skill in itself, which requires effort and creativity. The conversion of concepts and good ideas into viable website contributions is actually quite difficult - to say nothing about the acquisition of new modes of presentation. Aside from the work involved, the educator is obliged to face the truth in formulating online material: do I copy what's old or do I try new things that require solutions demanding more work? Experimenting with fresh solutions not only takes the material but also one's own development forward, even if it requires a little more time and effort before a new, frequently unrefined mode of presentation is honed into something publishable. The final strokes (coherence, appearance, readability, style, tone, correct language and punctuation) must be remembered no matter what, because web publications are often afflicted with 'vanity press disease' - as an entity, the text can give the impression of carelessness and amateurishness when there is no publishing editor to hone the final result.

 
 
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