Advance Organizer: More than a design principle
As I read beyond the pages of UPD, I noticed that there were a lot of interpretations on what Advance Organizer is. Even though this principle is originally detailed as a design principle, most of the immediate examples that came up were for teaching and for studying materials (ironically, as I’m preparing for my first year teaching.)
This is post is part of a series: A brief look into Universal Principle of Design. I am not affiliated with the authors or Rockport publishing. I am simply a fan of their work, revisiting and expanding on some principles that will aid me in my designs and my writing. Interested? You can start here. Would like to have all 125 principles at your fingertips? Check it out here first. Feel free to comment, share, and enjoy!
Advance Organizer simply is…
“…an instructional technique that helps people understand new information in terms of what they already know” -UPD
There are 2 types
Expository: Presents information that the audience has little to no prior knowledge about. Usually begins with a brief description of the topic and its functions.
Comparitve: Presents new information similar to what the audience has seen before. Ex. A graphic comparing 2 different types of geeks (Seattle/Silicon Valley). Most of us know what geeks are but not the differences between these two.
My mind kept thinking back to the popularity of infographics. Infographics or information graphics are graphic visual representation of information, data or knowledge. Therefore, some infographics might fall under the advance organizer category. Here are some that I thought could fall under Expository:
Beer is a familiar topic but not many people know about the history and origins of beer. This graphic sorts the information into a visually appealing (and entertaining) setup so that the viewer is enticed to learn more about the history of beer (if beer isn’t reason enough to keep reading).
Or the evolution of video game controllers. This chart does not rely on written facts about video game controllers but rather a visual timeline of video game controllers starting from 1950s to 2012. Most of the audience might be familiar with modern day controllers but this graphic shows new information regarding its predecessors, linking controllers which may have directly influenced the design of the other. I also feel that this could be comparative since you an compare the changes of certain controllers such as the Xbox. But the lines get kind of fuzzy with this one. Still, it’s an awesome graphic chart, one I might purchase in the near future.
Others that I hadn’t though before are visual instruction manuals such as those found in Ikea or other build-it-yourself/do-it-yourself manuals.
And in the past few years, there’s been a surge on the visually appealing infographic resume:
The candidate becomes more than just a candidate for a graphic design, UX architect, software developer, etc. This type of resume may expand on the progression of how the candidate came to acquire those skills and related employment. The chunks of information are placed in a graphical layout, a map of sorts that leads the audience through the story of the candidate’s professional life.
Here are some for Comparative:
A large comparison chart of location-based social networking sites.
Comparing 3 different types of Security leaders: Influencers, Protectors, and Responders
Looking back at these, the messages appear more powerful. It’s tangible and engaging versus plain ol’ words and statistics. The information also becomes easier to digest, especially initially convoluted topics that might not come readily to audience members. Therefore, it could be a great starting point into a topic, especially for presentations.
Organizing for comprehension
While I was taking a graduate class on Emerging Media and Communication, the instructor constructed a mind map of all of our ideas we wanted to implement in our class’ website. Our mind map grew from a single idea into elaborate branches of interconnecting ideas. Despite its “complexity,” the ability to capture it in a visual sense eventually helped us decide what areas we wanted to begin working and which “branches” we wanted to wait on or eliminate.
Advance organizers can be a tool to get started, one step closer to making ideas become a reality. They are the infographic we see on our favorite website that helps us learn about beer or video games. They can be beautifully ornate or totally utilitarian and they are an incredible tool for brainstorming. All in all, its purpose is clear: Advance organizers are a tool for communicating ideas to others or to ourselves, faster and with much more clarity when words on paper simply won’t do.