Boldly Awakening the Ordinary: Visual Design for Human-Centered Learning
Concurrent Session 5 & 6 (combined)
In this DIY-style workshop, you’ll leverage visual design tools and the collective genius in the room to reimagine and remake your learning materials. Come explore fundamental design considerations you can use to create engaging learning experiences, and get a treasure trove of resources and tools to take home!
In this session, we’ll explore how leveraging design fundamentals can make a big impact for students through experimenting with contrast, repetition, font and color. 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. And we’ll share what we’ve learned and our favorite resources, neatly hosted via the Squad Goals Network, a 2018 OLC Effective Practice Award winner!
When we think about how we design our learning materials, whether they be for a course we lead or as a module inside a comprehensive online program, we face a plethora of choices, challenges, and constraints. What information do we want to convey? What do we want students to learn and do with what we create? How do we get them to engage with and wrestle with and synthesize the concepts and ideas and prompts in the ways we plan? And how do we do all of that within the constraints of the available tools and capabilities we have?
We have a few answers, and mostly some more thoughts. And, perhaps more importantly: we have each other! And we want to share this with you in this come-as-you are workshop on visual design for human-centered learning.
Japanese designer and theorist Kenya Hara (2007) has offered that design “is the energetic acknowledgement of our own living through the making of things and through communication,” where our making can be understood as our attempt to “boldly awaken our everyday existences, which seem ordinary” (p. 411). From an educator’s lens, we see Hara’s words as a challenge to enliven our intentional acts of design, push learners to see beyond the mere interface of the LMS or the text of the presentation slides, and to awaken new experiences, connections, and possibilities for their own learning, and ultimately, for their own lives.
Building on this, 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 as a part of their everyday. Embracing teaching and learning from a design perspective (or even just honing in on 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 because this work happens in and through our everyday existences, as Hara suggests, we face real constraints: 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.
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!
Source: Hara, K. (2007). Designing Design. Baden, Switzerland: Lars Muller.