Yes, you can! (Sorry, Mr President)

I put in a long post yesterday and today’s reward is that this post is short. I want to remind you all that you don’t have to be some sort of amazing educational designer to bring good design into your work. When most people think ‘design’ they think of graphic design, high-concept art, artistic ability and lots of words that aren’t in their standard vocabulary. I hope that, over the last three days, you’ve realised that we’re all using good design principles all the time – everywhere – and that’s it a matter of being aware of what we’re doing, so we can re-use those principles elsewhere. I’m certainly no expert but I can explain things fairly well and I like to bring new vocabularies to new audiences. I have a secret theory that most of the problems we have stem from people not being able to communicate and express themselves – maybe not all problems, but certainly a lot of those that lead to disengagement and frustration among our students.

One of the aspects of President Obama’s campaign that was both praised and ridiculed, depending upon which side of politics you found yourself, was the use of simple messages and clear design to make it easy for people to identify the campaign and associate with it. The imagery is simple and powerful. The logo includes references to the President’s initial (O), patriotic symbols and sunrise – a new beginning. That kind of simplicity and power takes some serious work and that’s where professional designers make their money. (I’ve deliberately not linked or included the logo here. I’m aware of the political divide in the US and don’t want people to think I’m advocating one political party or another – the title of this post is probably enough that I’ll get some interesting comments. You can easily find the logo for yourself by searching for Obama logo.)

But that’s not what we’re doing. We’re just trying to make our teaching more accessible, our materials easier to use and our students more knowledgable. By considering things we may not have considered, we can reduce problems. We can make our lecture notes available in ways we hadn’t thought of before. We can make a difference that assists our students in engaging with us and what we’re trying to teach them.

Electing a president? That’s probably beyond you. Looking at some of the things that I’ve been talking about and possibly helping a student learn from you? Yes, you can!

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