Visual design: how it taught me how to learn



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One of my favorite quotes comes from Winnie The Pooh. It goes, “we didn’t realize we were making memories, we just knew we were having fun”. This quote summarizes the incredible opportunity I had over the summer at the High School Journalism Workshop at Ohio University. Not only did I meet some amazing friends, but I went through a remarkable educational experience that has shaped the journalist I am today.

While at the workshop, I was assigned to the design track, which was not at all what I had been expecting. However, whoever made that decision must have been a secret genius because the experience made me fall in love with designing and taught me the fundamental skills to succeed in visual design for communications.

Fast forward to today (a couple months later where I am now a college student at Ohio University’s Scripps School of Journalism) I have discovered the value of understanding visual design. For, it has enhanced my storytelling ability and the level of creativity I can bring to the table as a journalist. As an example, for a current assignment, I voluntarily chose to tell the story through infographics. After making this decision I have enjoyed making multiple infographics for the project and discovered how valuable of a skill visual design is to journalism.

Learning visual design did not come without its worries. Initially, I feel completely unqualified to be working in the design group at camp. However, the following five tips were ways I overcame my concern in order to end up as the chosen project manager and ultimately help my group create a successful video.

Stay positive: A person’s attitude can make or break any situation. While nervous about design, I found that by staying positive I was able to walk in with the right mindset to succeed. Keeping positive allowed me to not get discouraged and to always put my best foot forward. I did not realize it at the time, but by staying positive and embracing the experience of making our design video I became a stronger person. Additionally, I improved my confidence in designing and developed skills that helped me become a stronger and more well-rounded journalist. Keeping a positive attitude can take you farther than ever imaginable, and help you discover a love for something new.

Listen to others and contribute to discussions: When I entered the design track, I came in expecting not to be the smartest person in the room (and knew that was okay). While difficult and intimidating, this also gave me the insight that it would be vital to listen to the advice of others. Therefore, I found myself hanging on to every word my professor said and developed an open and accepting mind towards the ideas of my peers. By doing this, I was able to notice the smaller details in their comments and find ways of stringing together their best ideas with my own ideas in order to help create a design video that could make our group successful. Being an active listener, especially when trying to learn something new, is the fastest way to achieving understanding.

Take initiative and always keep in mind what you can offer to the project: Everyone comes in with their own background, experiences, and strengths. For example, I went in aware that I had the ability to listen and logically connect everyone’s ideas together to form a plan for our project. By staying in tune with my strengths and thinking about how I could best serve my team, I was able to learn visual design quickly and be an extremely active member of our group.

Be coachable: This is the key to trying and learning something new. During the camp, I made sure I paid special attention to any advice my professor gave our class and took the initiative to ask questions that would further our discussions. This ended up making out entire class more successful because we were able to capitalize on our professor’s extensive knowledge and use his teachings to strengthen our understanding of visual design in a short period of time.

Have an appreciation for what you are doing: Having completed the design track, I have learned a much deeper appreciation and understanding of visual design. Not only do I see its value, but can appreciate all the hard work that goes into the content visual designers create. Visual design opened up an incredible educational door for me and I recommend that anyone interested should make the effort in learning this creative skill. For it is truly remarkable how messages can be conveyed in such unique ways through visual design.

Attached below is the video my group created to show the statistical data of the participants who attended the workshop. Enjoy!

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