Let’s Do Some Visual Design for Human-Centered Learning

Workshop Session 1

Brief Abstract

Visual design has important implications far beyond attempting to make things beautiful, including how we learn and process information. Join us as we play with visual design tools and explore fundamental considerations of design that you can put to use to create visually appealing teaching and learning experiences.


It turns out a bunch of nomadic-yet-related experiences and some determination to overcome imposter syndrome and some bourbon with friends make for an interesting life and career path. Ben is the Lead Design Strategist in the Mary Lou Fulton Teachers College at Arizona State University, where he and his team are partnering with local community schools and organizations to reimagine and redesign K12 education. A veteran K12 educator and higher ed instructional designer, Ben is fascinated with what happens when smart and curious people get in a room and work really hard at thinking about and taking the next step toward what could be - and trying to make that happen more.
Adam Croom is a faculty member in the Strategic Communication area of the Gaylord College of Journalism and Mass Communication. Croom also serves the university in a separate capacity as the Director of the Office of Digital Learning. Croom completed his Masters at Pepperdine University where he studied education and learning technologies. His research focused on networked approaches to online learning in public relations design courses.

Extended Abstract

Visual design has important implications far beyond attempting to make things beautiful, including how we learn and process information. The way a course looks or even feels can impact how people engage with it. Embracing teaching and learning from a design perspective - or even just honing in a few elements of visual design - offers rich possibilities for engaging students and helping to make the often implicit elements of a course more explicit, and thus more effective for teaching and learning.

And there’s perhaps a more base consideration: most faculty have enough to do beyond worrying about how to hire or find a graphic designer to create professional designs for their courses. Moreover, few institutions have support staff in place to scale branding and design for every instructor and/or every course. Even so, instructors who aren't design professionals can still create unique and engaging learning content, DIY-style.

In this session, through experimenting with a few design fundamentals - contrast, repetition, font and color - we’ll explore how design can make a big impact for students. Moreover, we’ll show how instructors can craft a unique brand and style that allows them to stand out or just feel good about what they have created. We'll also explore how visual design elements can support more accessible learning experiences for students with disabilities. 

We'll spend most of our time in this session doing hands-on work to help you practice and play with building good visual design elements. Bring your own materials to work on, or use some of the prepared materials we have provided! We'll also unpack some of the research supporting visual design considerations for learning, as well as share a plethora of our favorite open resources for visual design!