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How Designers Can Enable and Empower Our Schools

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By: Duncan Swain, Sandy Speicher and Leslie Ziegler

Good design shifts the way people think about the world around them. It has the power to inform and empower by providing a greater understanding of complex issues. Graphic designers have the unique ability to take information and transform it through data visualization. They consider the user experience in ways that most people may not.

These overlapping factors create an opportunity for designers and design thinkers to find new ways to spark innovation, compel change and have a meaningful impact. The nonprofit Foundation for Excellence in Education (ExcelinEd) has created an opportunity to apply that impact to improve education for students throughout the nation.

In September, ExcelinEd launched the My School Information Design Challenge, asking designers to rethink and redesign the way in which school information is presented to make it easier to understand and more user-friendly for parents and the general public.

Through the My School Information Design Challenge, designers will help shift today's outdated education system to the modern Information Age through the latest advancements in design and data visualization. It is also an opportunity to demonstrate to state departments of education the value in making an investment in graphic design to improve their state-specific report cards.

The competition offers prizes totaling up to $35,000 for designers who effectively reimagine the appearance, presentation and usability of school information.

We're excited to serve as judges on this challenge because we wholeheartedly believe in the impact and transformational power of thoughtful and compelling design. The My School Information Design Challenge (#SchoolInfo) will help tap into the talent needed to improve parents' understanding of their schools and help states improve their ability to share valuable school information.

If we want to improve our schools, provide teachers with the resources they need and improve parental involvement, it is absolutely vital that we improve access to and the usability of school report cards. A visually improved, easy-to-find and easy-to-understand report card can empower parents and communities with important information about their children's learning environments, and ensure that ALL students have equal access to high-quality schools.

We encourage you to get involved today. You can download the Designer Information Packet here. For more information, visit myschoolinfochallenge.com.

Duncan Swain is a Creative Partner at Information is Beautiful Studio and an award-winning creative director with 20 years of experience in journalism, design and technology. Sandy Speicher is an Associate Partner and Managing Director of the Education practice at the global design firm IDEO. Leslie Ziegler is an entrepreneur, designer and health advocate. She serves as an advisor to several startup companies at the convergence of health and technology.

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