Often many VLE courses look very “boring”, a list of resources and activities. This is partly down to the fact that a VLE is often seen by practitioners as a repository of content, with links to resources and activities. One way to break up the list is to use embedded graphics to enhance the visual appeal of the course on the VLE. Graphical titles are an easy way to add visual appeal and signpost activities or content within a course on the VLE.
Of course using graphics instead of words is generally an accessibility no no and even an ALT tag isn’t usually enough. However my view is for titles (and accompanying graphics in general) that though not 100% accessible if not essential to the actual content in the course won’t be too much of a loss or a distraction. For most learners though the graphical titles would (if done right) enhance their experience on the course and engage them.
One of the issues with titles is creating them and there are various tools available. I am sure a lot of people have used WordArt in Microsoft Word. I have used Fireworks, Comic Life and other applications to create titles.
Another issue is design and “taste”, here are some examples of good and bad practice, I will leave you to choose which is which.
The way to add these is by adding an image, ensure though that you add an ALT tag. In Moodle 2 you can change the topic names from “Topic 1” to a more suitable title making the use of graphical titles slightly less inaccessible.
The main reason to use embedded titles is that though the standard CSS (stylesheet) may allow for nice headings it may not be something that every practitioners wants to use. In some cases embedded titles may be used in addition to standard headings to emphasise an activity or an event.
A criticism often laid against the VLE is that it is “boring” to look at. There is very little to stop making the VLE engaging and attractive, with a little thought and the right graphical application, you can enhance any course on the VLE. There is the danger though that with excessive use of fonts, colours (and even animated gifs) that the VLE course could turn into a ghastly MySpace page! So be careful out there.