Thoughtful signage facilitates inclusive learning environments

Signs and displays speak volumes about your classroom, school and community. They communicate important information, and they provide direction. Thoughtful use of sign and display solutions can help achieve important programmatic goals in career and technical education (CTE).  To engage students and facilitate inclusive learning environments, consider how signs can help.

Techniques recently spoke with Ryan Farris, president and chief operating officer of PostNet, who shared some tips.

What do you do at PostNet?

I oversee the sales, support and ongoing operations of the PostNet franchise network. I work with a highly talented headquarters team and a network of independently owned and operated PostNet franchises to provide printing, shipping, packaging and related services to local markets. 

Thanks for sharing! Next, let’s chat about your education. What did you study?

My education focused on financial skills, with a double major in finance and economics. This included plenty of accounting, which has been extremely useful in my professional career.  Later, I completed the entrepreneurship program through Rice University’s MBA school. 

How can sign and display solutions be used to engage students in hands-on learning?

Learning and memory retention is greatly enhanced when multiple senses are engaged. When educators leverage auditory and visual senses together, students are not only more engaged, but memory retention is also enhanced. Signs and displays work to complement instruction as well as hands-on learning opportunities.

Go further to add tactile components, like augmented reality, and students become more immersed than ever.

What are the most important factors to consider when choosing signage?

Consider the intended message, action, audience and visual area for your signage and display solutions. If your intent is to educate, think about how much space you have and how best to convey that message. Larger amounts of space may allow for text, visuals, audio and tactile options. Smaller spaces may lend themselves to more visuals or illustration models. Regardless, every surface offers an opportunity for signage.

How would a sign for a CTE program recruitment event differ from a sign used in a classroom or lab environment?

Again, content, illustration and messaging! In a recruitment format, focus more on awareness and engagement. In a classroom setting, the goal is to educate and retain. When we focus on awareness, we think of eye-catching and attention-grabbing signage. In the classroom, signs will be more educational to support instruction and reinforce messaging.  The audience is more captive, and thus the content can be more detailed and provide richer content.

In what ways can educators improve inclusivity in their learning environments through signage?

Signage is a great way to project the goals, mission and the people (teachers and student body). Leveraging window and wall graphics with proper photography is a great way to highlight diversity and inclusion, showcase program details and learning environments, and convey the culture of the school.

Certainly, additional areas for consideration would include wayfinding updates: how to navigate the space. It’s important to update those dimensional or flat images to align with the culture and values of the school. That may mean displaying gender-neutral signage where appropriate.

Is there anything else you’d like to share?

Regardless of your intended purpose, visual communications are essential to all learning environments. There is no better or more cost-effective way to project the culture and value of a school than good signage — nor any better way to reinforce educational and learning messages. Visual communications are key to enhancing your students’ education and learning experience.