Hypertextrealities

Gateway Computers finds a unique selling point to attract customers: their advertisement shows a young man ecstatic after getting the latest computer in the market. However, on his way home, he reads a billboard sign, which displays that a newer version of the same computer is launched. Apart from marketing Gateway Computer’s upgrading strategy, the advertisement reflects the rate of change in a technology-oriented world; the dichotomy being that such rapid change undermines the possibility for users to cope with emerging, changing technology. The situation exemplifies a new and unstable era for pedagogy in the age of information technology where technical communicators must be provided with a conceptual framework for the comprehension of malleable information and complex discrete elements (Basseur 78-79).
Rhetoric plays an important role in navigating a technical communicator. In a hypertext project, it is the rhetorical framework that aids the communicator to translate multimedia into a tool for persuading an audience. For example, Power Point as software uses the visual component as the dominant feature to process information in a graphical manner. The added components would be movie files, sound files, animated graphic, and embedded graphics. Thus, hypertext environment incorporates multiple variations of multimedia. For a novice communicator, it is possible that the tools may become the focal point of the presentation, as a Web page designer using an overabundance of animated graphics for the sake of visual stimulation. In the process, the focus shifts from the gestalt principle of figure-ground to the creation of visual noise (Kostelnick-Roberts 59). In this case, the designer overlooks the role of the graphics. Instead, the graphics are used as decorative images in the broader framework.
An instructor teaching software applications may run the same risk of concentrating on the utilities and ignoring the contents that are stored and manipulated through the functions of the utilities. As Basseur explicates in “Visual Literacy in The Computer Age,” “the ease or efficiency of computer applications has the potential to influence our choices, often in ways that we not even aware of.” Thus, it is possible for the designer or the user to lose track in a “post-modern” landscape with the lack of “structural design” (Basseur 92). In “Multimedia and the Learner’s Experience of Narrative,” D. Laurillard emphasizes the importance of a structural framework:
By contrast with traditional media, one of the key benefits for interactive media is seen as being the lack of imposed structure, giving much greater freedom of control to the user. However, in the context of instruction, this benefit runs counter to the learner’s need to discern structure if there is a message to be understood. We have found, from observation in previous research studies, that learners working on interactive media with no clear narrative structure display learning behaviour that is generally unfocussed and inconclusive. Thus, one of the key benefits of interactive media, the greater learner control it offers, becomes pedagogically disadvantageous of it results in mere absence of structure.
As pedagogy faces shifting, ambivalent changes in a technological world, it is imperative to uphold the conceptual structure for the user’s navigational purposes.
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