We all have guilty pleasures. Fun fonts. Rainbow colors. Moving clip art. Patterned borders. But when does design support memory and learning, and when does it get in the way? Slide design, Bitmoji classrooms, learning management system banners, document layouts, and more can all benefit from basic design theory to reinforce learning rather than disrupt it.
MORE THAN DECORATION
My students regularly share challenges they face using teacher-created learning materials. Materials can be “wordy,” “confusing,” “hard to read,” and “boring.” But when teachers’ materials are well designed, they are “engaging,” “helpful,” “interesting,” and “easy.”
More than making things pretty, design supports learning. Use of color and images increases memory and engagement. Studies of social media use report that Twitter posts with images are three times more likely to be engaged with than messages with only text. And color can improve retention and increase the willingness to read by up to 80 percent. At the same time, it can get in the way, distracting learners from what’s important and overwhelming their brains.
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