Navigation​ by Coreen Cardenas
"We must be lost in hyperspace!"
What is Navigation?
Navigation refers to the manner in which learners move through multimedia content. In essence it means getting where you want to go in a program or website. It is related to the issue of orientation or awareness of where you are and where you need to go to access needed information. There are multiple methods of navigation (such as hyperlinks, menus and maps), and knowing where and when to use these helpful tools can enable educators to maximize student learning.
What should educators know about navigation?

Efficient, well-designed navigational methods change the way students learn by giving the learner control over the material. The learner can decide what information to access and in what order. When students read a traditional textbook, the information is presented to them in an order decided by the author. Hypertext programs allow the learner to choose how to navigate through the information. They can control the sequence, pace and content. The research related to hypermedia and navigation has consistently found that students view instruction more favorably when they have larger quantities of learner control (Barab, Wang & Young, 1999). Learners, however, do not always use the navigation features successfully. Rather than just providing students with navigation features, hypermedia programs need to offer support for learners to effectively use what is available (Alessi & Trollip, 2001).

Several difficulties arise when the navigation in a program or web site has been poorly designed. Disorientation can occur when learners do not know where they are, which is also known as being “lost in hyperspace” (Alessi & Trollip, 2001). Frequent loops, inefficient paths and large amounts of content can cause learners to become “lost” or confused. The higher the number of navigational choices a student must face, the greater the potential for disorientation or confusion. (Gerjets & Scheiter, 2007). Educators must also be aware of another concern with navigational structure. Learners may become distracted when browsing hypermedia environments. With the ease of navigation through large amounts of information, students may follow their interests and explore topics unrelated to the main task (Gerjets & Scheiter, 2007). When students become distracted from their main goal, learning may be hindered. Educators can aid student learning by choosing programs with simple navigation methods and fewer choices.

Navigation Recommendations for Educators:
(Alessi & Trollip, 2001)

· Provide clear and obvious navigation options without cluttering the display.
· Enable navigation options to be turned off by competent learners who will not be using them.
· Add visual navigation techniques (like icons, maps and timelines) to aid in navigation.
· Use a familiar navigation metaphor (such as a house or desktop).
· Use hyperlinks for important text information.
· Include links to the World Wide Web to access information.
· Vary navigation techniques for browsing, searching, and studying.

View this video for examples of what not to do when creating web site navigation.

Alessi, S., & Trollip, S. (2001). Multimedia for learning methods and development. Needham Heights, MA. Allyn & Bacon.

Barab, S., Wang, J., & Young, M. (1999). The effects of navigational and generative activities in hypertext learning on problem solving and comprehension. International Journal of Instructional Media, Vol. 26.

Chen, L. (2010). Web-based learning programs: use by learners with various cognitive styles. Computers & Education, 54(4), 1028-1035. Retrieved from ERIC database.

Gerjets, P. & Scheiter, K. (2007). Learner control in hypermedia environments. Educational Psychology Review, 19(3), 285-307. Retrieved from ERIC database.