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Home » EDU623 » Designing Learning Environments: 4-Part Blog Series (Part III)

Designing Learning Environments: 4-Part Blog Series (Part III)



The Development Phase of ADDIE takes a designer’s work from the Design Phase and applies the principles of graphic design to create an instructional message that is effective and engaging. This phase is not only about the message, but also the medium, or the vehicle of delivery (Larson, 2014). It is crucial that instructional designers are mindful early on in development, in order to avoid mistakes later (Larson, 2014). Ignoring the principles of message and graphic design would surely mean the failure of instruction.

Message Design & Principles of Graphic Design

There are many considerations an instructional designer can make in order to effectively reach their audience and have successful outcomes. They can appeal to the senses, make sure all materials are accessible, use multimedia and a combination of words and pictures, and personalize the instruction with a more conversational tone (Larson, 2014). Larson (2014) also suggests using the Gestalt grouping laws of proximity: showing relationships by putting objects close together; closure: showing relationships by grouping them as parts of a closed figure; continuity: aligning objects with each other; similarity: showing similarities using color, size, orientation, shape, and shading; and simplicity: using symmetry, regularity, and smoothness to organize elements. Other suggestions include using crisp, clean images instead of clipart and icons in the place of text (CreativeMarket, 2014). Coates and Ellison (2014) also explain, “If used effectively, color can convey meaning; it can also show at a glance that elements are connected or separated” (p. 82). Therefore, a designer must plan colors carefully and purposefully.

Gestalt_Principles_Composition(Gestalt Educational Program, 2011)

Classroom Connections

For me, this has been one of the more powerful units in the program. I appreciated being able to watch videos of people taking a rough design and applying graphic design principles to make it much more sleek, sophisticated, and catchy. In my own teaching, I have not often stopped to consider these principles, although intuitively, I think I have always thought about some of them even if I did not have the words. A few standouts for me are to achieve better coherence by reducing the nice to know information and using signaling to highlight the essentials (Larson, 2014). I will no longer use clipart or overused fonts, but instead keep the messages I design fresh and fun. In this way, I will better engage my learners.

What are your go to principles of graphic design?


Coates, K., & Ellison, A. (2014). An introduction to information design. London: Laurence King Publishing.

CreativeMarket. 2014. Learn web design: Simpler is better [Video file]. Retrieved from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AASd5ewKNSw.

Larson, M. B. (2014). Streamlined ID: A practical guide to instructional design. New York: Routledge.

Helpful Resource

Cool video that discusses graphic design principles and then connects them to movie posters:


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