The last lesson with DD2 was so successful, I decided to completely replicate it for this lesson. I used the same theme (how we communicate with each other), with the difference of how we communicate using pictures.
Lesson 2: Communicating using icons
· How icons (signs) can convey messages
1. Select lesson 1E Representing Information Using Pictograms from http://www.learn-ict.org.uk/sow2006/ks1_menu.asp
2. Type what the sign means into the box underneath the picture.
3. Identify conventions in signage, e.g. red borders means something you’re not supposed to do.
4. Examine the icons used in the computer, and how they describe the functionality of the application in a single image. Which ones are good, and which ones are not?
5. Go for a walk outside and take pictures of interesting signs. Discuss how they inform the service of the shop. Which ones are good, which ones are not?
6. Look at the icons in my iPhone menu screens. Which app functionality can she deduce?
7. From all of the signs and icons seen, discuss what makes a good sign.
By the end of the lesson DD2 was able to describe why signs were important (to convey key information quickly and unambiguously), and evaluate what made a good sign (no reliance on words, unambiguous symbols). We even looked at Apple’s (now historical) infatuation with skeumorphism, trying to decide whether it made the meaning more or less obvious.
She also understood that a strong icon needn’t necessarily describe what the app/shop does, but could just be a mental short-cut – as illustrated by the Facebook app icon and the Barclays bank sign (which these days is completely devoid of text).
Three weeks later, in the car on the way to Saturday morning’s activity, a propos nothing much, DD2 chirped up with an opinion on a road sign. She explained why she thought it was an effective sign (it was because it had a red circle around it meaning pay attention). That moment brought home to me the value DD2 is getting from these lessons, and made me feel vindicated. Clever DD2!