Here is one of the few effective keys to the design problem — the ability of the designer to recognize as many of the constraints as possible… [and their] willingness and enthusiasm for working within these constraints.

—Charles Eames[1]

Open learning design is the art of creating meaningful learning opportunities, while understanding the limitations of the technologies we use. Successful design in this environment requires pre-knowledge of the practical constraints of the environment.

In this section, we provide a few guidelines to keep in mind when developing the outline in the wiki, for the learning pathways you are designing on this course. Following these guidelines will improve the navigation and user experience of your website.



You should familiarise yourself with a wiki course outline and how this relates to the website produced by putting together the collection of wiki pages.

  1. Open a copy of the wiki outline page used to publish this course website.
  2. Look at::

Technical constraints for a course outline page

  1. The first bullet in the outline list is reserved for the course homepage and must be an internal wiki link.
  2. The navigation structure of the website is restricted to three hierarchical levels:
    • Level 1 is used for the general navigation of the course website—implemented as a single bullet in the course outline.
    • Level 2 is used for the drop-down options from the general navigation of the course website—implemented as a single indented sub-bullet in the course outline.
    • Level 3 is used for in-page navigation of third-level items—implemented as a double indented sub-bullet in the course outline.
  3. The course website uses the display text for the wiki link (called a ‘pipe’ in Mediawiki software) as the label of the navigation item. Avoid using long titles, as they do not display well as menu options. We recommend that you:
    • Keep level 1 navigation labels under 20 characters and spaces.
    • Keep level 2 and level 3 navigation labels under 35 characters and spaces.
    • Avoid using punctuation and restricted characters which have special meaning in page urls within your label text because this will cause problems with the next and previous page buttons which are inserted automatically in the snapshot. (For example, avoid using the following characters in your page labels: &, +, ‘ ” \ |).
  4. Except for the first bullet used for the landing page, bullets in the outline which have sub-bullets (children) should not be links. Check to see that only bullets which don’t have children are links in the outline. This is related to how items behave in the navigation when the user selects a menu option.
  5. We recommend that you do not use more than six level 1 navigation options, as this will create navigation challenges on lower screen resolutions. Also, you may need to reduce this number if you are using long titles for your general navigation.
  6. Always make changes to your source pages in the wiki. Don’t edit or make changes in your WordPress site because these edits will not be preserved when rerunning the script. The script will delete all previous pages in WordPress when updating the pages from the wiki.

We offer these guidelines to help you get started. Feel free to experiment—there is no risk of “breaking” the technology. Using a wiki model makes it very easy to change and adapt your design, because you will get visual feedback when you publish your own course website. If something goes wrong, you will be able to fix it.