Hypertext Environment

     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However, on his way home, he reads a billboard sign, which displays that a newer
version of the same computer is launched.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.