I’m a full-time student, and my main job is to learn.
But I’m also a part-time graphic designer. And the job of a graphic designer is to take ideas that are complex--and communicate them efficiently.
I’ve realized that the job of the graphic designer is important in the process of education. Why? Because learning is the acquisition of information, but information that is acquired through faulty graphics is imperfectly learned.
People talk about how to improve the education system all the time, but I feel like design is never brought up. I'd like to do my part to participate in this discussion--with your help, I'm hoping to make a well-designed, pay-what-you-want organic chemistry textbook in 2 volumes. I want to make a notoriously difficult subject easier to learn through good visuals and more efficient communication of information, and my ultimate goal is to use the subject of organic chemistry to get people to be more aware of the way they think and process information.
The first volume (a tightly-edited 116 pages that serves as an introduction text to first-time students) is already finished.
A few pages from each chapter can be read here:
The four chapters are:
0. How do we represent organic molecules?
1. Why do organic reactions occur?
2. What do organic molecules look like?
3. How do organic reactions occur?
With your help, I will be able to:
1. Realize the textbook in physical form.
2. Print in quantities large enough to keep the cost of book as low as possible.
3. Set up a website that can allow people to view and distribute this resource.
4. Begin work on future volumes of this series.
As this will be non-profit, all proceeds being used for printing, distribution, and expansion of the project.
What's important about the design?
Basically, all of my designs are based upon one idea: that being on the internet has altered our attention spans.
Because of this, there are a number of design choices I implemented that other textbooks don't use, some big, some small.
One big choice I made was that ideas should be communicated through two-page spreads. So, each spread conveys one idea, and all words on that page are self-contained. At the bottom of each left-hand page of a spread, there are key terms in blue that help the reader when they are re-reading. This speeds up the review process, as the reader will not have to look over the entire page if they realize that they understand the terms in blue.
Another big decision is the book has a very simple two-color system--in order not to distract, color is used very sparingly, only to draw attention or emphasize differences.
I don't think that the graphic designers of the current textbooks come from the same place that I do, so it's safe to say that the design aspects we focus on will be different.
Print seems to be a dying media in the 21st century...but when learning, I think it’s important to ponder upon ideas. Nowadays, whenever we’re confronted with a problem, we have the option of immediately searching for the solution on the internet.
One of the goals of this book is to teach you how to give your full attention to a subject, and for learning to take place, you should not have to face the conveniences and distractions of being plugged in.
Although printing will be the most expensive part of this project, I still feel that it is necessary to do so.
Risks and challenges
One difficult part of the project will be in distribution--making students aware of this as a resource, and perhaps convincing professors to use it as supplement to their lectures. I've recently contacted several open education websites, and I hope to have my work available there. I also plan on setting up my own website.
I have come to realize that the more difficult part of this project will be to get it peer-reviewed by the right people. Several instructors have already messaged me about collaboration, and I am currently working with a few people to make the book even further. It will be nearly impossible to produce a book that satisfies everybody in terms of both content and design, but I hope to produce a final product that is undeniably good.Learn about accountability on Kickstarter
- (30 days)