While I’ve always appreciated the power of good visuals, and enjoyed making things look “pretty”, I hadn’t really thought about the impact of design on learning until I attended Learning2 Europe last year and had the chance to go to Keri-Lee Beasley’s workshop “Get Real: Communicating Effectively In A Visualized World”. There she reminded us that design can impact understanding in significant ways and that it is a skill that we can share with our students in the classroom as well.

Without further ado, here is the infographic I put together. I coach a girls volleyball team at our school that plays in two different leagues, with two different sets of rules and regulations. I get a lot of questions from parents about the differences, so I thought an infographic might help.

The creation process for my infographic this week was challenging or different from what I am used to designing for a few reasons:

Purpose: One big difference is that I rarely design something purely for the purpose of content delivery. The material I create for my students is far more often a planner or organizer that they can use to construct their own understanding or meaning, rather than just giving them information. I have however in the past worked with students to create infographics, which is its own challenge that I’ll talk about a little more further down.

This particular infographic is something I would use at the beginning of a season during tryouts. Sending this out to the players and parents who are trying out for the team would answer some of the most common questions I get in the first few weeks of the season.

Brevity: When I explain things, I love to talk…and if I’m passionate about it, I can talk a lot. One of the things I really like about the infographic format, but also find challenging, is getting the point across without just writing an essay on the page. It is similar to giving a presentation, where you don’t want too much text on your slides, except with an infographic you aren’t standing there to explain it all. 

This is the biggest challenge that I find students have with creating their own infographic, as they often will do their research, have plenty of information to share, but have difficulty distilling it down into the important parts and representing it in a visual way.

Choosing a font is always an adenture…
Image from font.adobe.com

Colours and Fonts: This is one that is an ongoing challenge in everything that I create. Choosing the colour that works with the content, the font that makes it easy to read, and then feeling like both should be more “on brand” with the design guidelines of our school is something I work with every day. At the start of the year, our school’s public relations team sent out design guidelines for all external designs and communication. In the past, I have created quite a few school-related publications where this would have been useful for conferences or advertisements on our screens around the school. Purely out of personal interest I tried for a couple of weeks to keep everything that I created for my class “on brand” using the correct font, the correct colour pallet, and even threw in a few of our school mascot emojis.

From ISD Brand Guidelines 2019

Eventually, though, I got bored with the designs, as I’m sure my students and colleagues did too, and I’ve taken on the approach of “variety is the spice of life”. 

A resource that I refer back to frequently when I am designing visuals is a Padlet created by Keri Lee Beasley full of links to great design resources and ideas. If you are looking for more information or inspiration for your designs, or ways to teach design to your students, you should check it out here.