LTEC 5220 Week 4: Color Theory and Visual Design in Instruction

The importance of color and visual design in instruction

By: Andrew McGuffee

One of the key pillars to instructional design is the use and implementation of color. As far back as three hundred  years ago, educators have used the color wheel and other color charts like it to understand how colors work together.  Typically, a color wheel consists of twelve colors that are divided into what are known as warm or cool colors.  Then, there are three primary colors, six secondary, and twelve tertiary.  Each of these combinations can be used to pull the audience in or steer them in another direction entirely.  How the designer uses color is up to them and the specific message they are ultimately trying to convey.


As visual design has become more and more complex through the emergence of technology based media and instruction, so has the way we use color itself.  From hospitals to schools the use of color in visual design and instruction has never been more central to how view the world.  Complementary colors and the juxtaposition of elements tend clash colors and can embolden the delivery of the material.  On the other hand, harmonious color schemes can add a more calming or docile element to content.  Each has their purpose, but I tend to find the neutral schemes (browns and tans) as well as  achromatic (black, white, grey) to be overwhelming docile.  While harmony can be good in some instances, I believe it to lead to complacency and boredom in a instructional capacity.  The secret to creating a good instructional and visually stimulating platform is the balancing or layering of both contrasting colors and analogous color schemes.  Too much stimulation and the audience can be distracted, while not having enough could lead to them loosing interest.  Ultimately, I think color theory and visual design transcend most media formats and will continue to do so for the foreseeable future.




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