To continue the previous entry – another pushback might be that instructors would feel that improving the look of a space might be considered manipulation of the student, as if marketing the educational piece is the same as selling someone a Flowbee. Making things look good is not the same as manipulating the end user. A simple three column screen layout or a well designed Power Point (oxymoron alert?) does not mean that you are trying to manipulate learners. One could cynically argue that’s what teachers do now, by selecting what students read, how they will be graded and what activities they will engage in.
Aesthetics doesn’t always extend to just the look of a document or page. It’s also about how the design interacts with the content. If the content is playful, it should be reflected in the aesthetics related to the content. The design and the content will inform the student about the instructor – providing a clue as to who an instructor is. If these ideas about aesthetics are not addressed in the materials, that too informs the student.
Also, to tie into the last post, the great Presentation Zen has 10 tips on how to think like a designer. It’s a very broad overview to help non-designers begin to think about design. Of course, this is from Garr’s perspective, and has a very zen approach to design (specifically points 2,3 and 5). I certainly appreciate Garr’s approach to most things so it resonates with me, your mileage may vary.