Design, design everywhere – nor any drop of ink!

The upcoming week of posts, from Monday (Australian time) onwards is going to talk about interesting principles of design and how I believe they can be applied to teaching. I’m working from a set of books in my design library but the main one is “Universal Principles of Design”‘ Lidwell, Holden and Butler; Revised edition, 2010. I will try to put that in as a reference throughout, as these posts shouldn’t force you to search backwards and forwards, but I may forget so here it is as a basis.

I will be on the road for a while and I may have to load the queue to deal with the fact that WiFi doesn’t reach into the middle of the pacific at 30,000 feet. Yet. This may also slow down my comment response and clearance. Please hang in there, I’ll deal with everything as and when my network access improves.

The final post in the week of opinion is going to be published shortly and it’s more of an encouragement to look at other people who are more experienced in this education area – so go and read their opinions as well!

The title of this post is a reference to a fragment of The Rime of the Ancient Mariner by Samuel Taylor Coleridge.

Water, waterevery where, And all the boards did shrink; Water, waterevery where, Nor any drop to drink.

My use of this is supposed to do three things:

  1. Tap into the familiar pattern established by Coleridge with this well-known quotation – because it’s familiar to some of you, you may remember my message more easily. (Don’t make me force you to remember the “1 2 3 4 5, 6 7 8 9 10, 11 12” song from Sesame Street to prove my point about familiarity.)
  2. Identify that design is actually everywhere but that, in many regards, digital design has become the dominant form. The advantage of digital design, for us as teachers, is that we can be producers and distributors of digital design work without having to involve or pay for printers. Modern tools and production facilities allow us to make our good design, and well-designed materials, available anywhere, anytime.
  3. Remind you that, because good design is everywhere, we don’t want our teaching materials to be the worst designed thing that students see on a given day. No, you don’t have to be a professional designer, as I’ve said before, but consideration of basic principles can help to lift the valuable educational message that we’re all trying to give, and put it into a frame that will make it easier to use and actually be valued.

My secret final aim is to interest you all in running off to read Coleridge, because the language is beautiful and he’s one heck of a poet. It’s ok, I’ll still be here when you get back.



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