Design Process - Logos
What's in a logo?
I was going to begin this section by comparing my level of artistic ability to an animal, but then I researched the kind of art animals are capable of producing and realized they are better than me. Either way, my students will gladly tell you that drawing and graphics are not my strong suit. So, the idea of designing a logo was a little daunting at first. I began my journey by looking at a lot of logos.
The first big idea I had was that I did not like logos that were too on the nose. A toolbox, computers, school supplies. This really is just a personal preference. I played around with the idea of using a brain or some kind of sapling-type image but both felt overdone already. I latched onto logos like Khan Academy’s. Khan has a logo that represents what they are about, growing, but it is not actually related to what they do, computer based learning. So, I decided I wanted a more abstract logo or a concrete logo that represented the values of my project, rather than what the project literally was. This led me to draft #1, the leftmost logo. It is abstract, with energetic colors. I could see using it as a "visual signature" of sorts. I liked how it was elegant. However, I ultimately decided it was too vague and did not communicate enough to my audience.
So, I did not want anything too literal, but nothing too abstract either. I landed at the middle logo, with a lightning bolt image. I chose a lightning bolt for it's obvious connections to power and then put it through a circle to create an "emblem." The emblem style brings to mind a superhero crest. I completed this image by selecting complimentary colors for my scheme. It brings an energetic, comic book feel to the logo and adds another level of communication. This products EMPOWERS. The only change I made to my third draft was to darken the orange color to make it more readable and to provide a stronger contrast.
My journey with logo-making is almost a testimony to the power of agency. I was intimidated by the idea of producing a logo and unsure of where to even begin. By using some free online resources to draft up some images, I very quickly found out, I DID have ideas. I did have thoughts about what a good logo should look like or how to use color to my advantage. Once I got started, this new skill quickly became very manageable!
Prototyping My Website
Prototype Bubble Map #1
Above is my first attempt at prototyping my capstone website. To be honest, prototyping was an intimidating assignment (there might be a theme on this page). What does a prototype even look like? Well, that's the point of a prototype, to decide what the project might look like. After completing some beginning work on mapping out a prototype, I am thankful for the process. I feel like it has begun to add some clarity to the idea spinning around in my head. Everything in this project can feel so interconnected but categorizing it, even into a table of contents and headers adds something concrete to it all. It also helps me to realize where the idea is lacking and where it is overloaded.
As I was working on my bubble map, I realized that I have the best and clearest blueprint for my “Evidence” prong, the section of my prototype dedicated to convincing my audience my project is worthwhile. That is important to me because I do not assume every person who reads my prototype will automatically share my viewpoint on the value of a growth mindset and student agency in a mathematics classroom. I cannot really think of a reason why someone would dismiss it as a bad thing, but I can certainly imagine an educator agreeing but just “not being able” to find the time to do it. Still, even though I believe it is an important aspect of the project, it may be a little too heavy. I recognize that parts of the other prongs (teacher training and student resources) both will involve “database” components that are full of third party and original resources, but I still need to be very cognizant of the purpose of my project. I am not building this capstone to argue with it, but to provide the means for change and growth. I need to turn down the argumentative side of my brain and really make sure I pack in as much value into the other two sections as possible.
Trying to categorize the three prongs of my hypothetical model also made me consider the overlap of resources. My target audience is educators, but part of my product is providing resources the educators can use with their students. It really makes me question, even as I am still compiling various resources, what is truly a training tool for educators and what is good for students. Should students also be exposed to articles about a teacher serving as a facilitator? Will the student understanding the teacher role help alleviate frustration and help them take advantage of the structure. If yes, is that something within the scope of project or am I going to far? Is understanding the teacher role part of the “culture of agency” I mention in my driving question. How essential is it?
Prototype Bubble Map #2
As I approached the bubble map prototype a second time, I had a new perspective. How valuable is the content of my tool for my audience? How do I structure it in a way that is useful to my audience? In this time, I solidified that this was in fact a resource aimed for educators. If a student happens to find it, then that is fine, but I was now intentionally designing for educators. This helped me better structure my resources and be more focused. There are more bubbles in this map and each bubble is more concise.
I also had the revelation that my bubble map was, as it was built, for me. Not my audience. Firstly, this bubble map does not mesh incredibly well with the structure of the Learning Innovation Lab. Secondly, this bubble map connects for me in different ways than it will for my audience. I will not have an "Evidence" page on my blog. My evidence will be embedded across multiple pages. I will think about my content in terms of the three prongs of my bubble map, but that is not how my audience interacts with it. My audience interacts with content through the Learn More and Research and Inspiration pages. So really, this became a kind of graphic organizer for me as a designer. I had to reconsider how this content would look from the front end. Learning systems need to be designed with the learner in mind. How does the design bridge the gap to the content for the learner? Luckily, those kinds of issues are relatively easy to deal with on a website. I can link to anything online via graphics or videos or hyperlinks! I have an entire Internet of content to utilize, plus the tools to make my own content when necessary. My content is only one click away from my audience, so all I have to do is find or create the content I need! Easy, right?