glass of water

Make a poster—but make it good?

I am interrupting my website analysis series for this public service announcement:

We need to teach design to our students so they can be effective communicators. 

As a mom, I’ve seen my children create a variety of projects for homework—posters, books, presentations, videos. I applaud their teachers for throwing out the worksheets and promoting creativity. But what is the purpose of exploring media if the students aren’t taught how to use that media effectively?

We emphasize content while neglecting its container—design. If content is water, design is the cup, the bottle, the vase, the hose, the pool, the riverbank, the shore. Design helps us better understand the content. Is it to drink? Look at? Swim in? It contains the content so we are not overwhelmed. We often don’t acknowledge good design, but we know when it’s not there.

In our school system, content and design are compartmentalized. We learn to write in language arts; we learn design elements in art class. But this isn’t how our world works. Our kids explore websites, play games, use apps, even read books. All of these avenues rely on the effective combining of content and design. Will kids play a game that’s poorly designed, unappealing, hard to understand? For that matter, do you explore websites that are poorly designed, even if the content may be what you’re looking for?

To combat this problem in my little corner of the world, I have teamed up with a sixth-grade teacher in the local elementary school to work with five students on a project: Create a persuasive PowerPoint presentation. For the next few weeks I will be sharing my experiences with these students (who, by the way, are absolutely delightful to work with). We will explore the process of combining content and design to create an effective presentation. So if you missed this in sixth grade, I welcome you to class![/ezcol_2third]