A group of students look at papers.

The Importance of Color Printing in Education

20 Sep 2017 by Insight Editor

New, disruptive tech has infiltrated education in recent years, but it hasn’t eradicated the importance of color printing in the classroom. Some schools may be hesitant to explore color as an option due to concerns about expenses or the total cost of ownership, but significant reductions in printing costs and increased features allow educators to tap into the value of integrating color in the classroom and beyond.

Let's take a closer look at how educational institutions are tapping into this powerful medium to enhance the learning experience while increasing student engagement.

Improving student engagement

Quality color printing is a key asset in a wide range of classroom scenarios — at all educational levels. It can be leveraged to create interactive visual aids for use in the classroom, which helps teachers communicate complex concepts to students. Educators can also take advantage of color in classroom handouts, games, activity posters and calendars. The sky's the limit when it comes to the visual materials educators can use in a color setting.

Students often report they engage better with color materials, which instinctively draw their attention and pique their interest. And it's no wonder: The Association for Talent Development reported that information is sent from the color center of the brain to the areas responsible for detecting motion, shapes, edges and transitions — even if you're color blind. Color can especially help students interpret and understand charts and graphs, and it aids in retention of material covered in class.

Some educational institutions are taking advantage of the creative possibilities inherent in color to foster learning and inspire civic engagement, as well. For example, Chicago public high schools will soon use a gorgeously illustrated, three-part, graphic novel to empower students by helping them learn about the history of their neighborhoods. This innovative instructional material dovetails with Illinois' recently instituted civic education graduation requirement for public high schools, enabling Chicago teens to gain the knowledge necessary to graduate via a medium that's accessible and inspiring to them.

Enhancing the educational experience

High-quality color printing can support tremendous creativity and innovation in the classroom. Color is naturally engaging for all learners, and it provides a useful bridge between the digital and print worlds. Today's digital natives — already accustomed to interacting with color content on their mobile devices — find it intuitive to encounter color in the printed materials they receive. And, despite the ubiquity of tablets and e-readers, research shows that students read paper more efficiently than content delivered via an electronic device.

Running into reams of black-and-white handouts may downright confuse students, however. Black and white can seem a bit analog and be more difficult to absorb when compared with the interactive media students consume regularly. By contrast, color can spark their imaginations and facilitate the brainstorming process that's essential to creative projects and student engagement.

Color printing ties in neatly with two major trends: The Maker Movement and Science, Technology, Engineering, the Arts and Mathematics (STEAM) education.

The Maker approach emphasizes hands-on, active learning through experimentation and tinkering. In a Maker-inspired activity, students can print a color design schematic of a robot they've created that clearly shows how the circuits within it are arranged and how they should function.

The other hot trend, STEAM education, weaves the arts into lessons on subjects such as mathematics to demonstrate how these different fields of study can complement each other. In such a lesson, students might use color to create and print an original drawing that incorporates the golden ratio, a mathematical ratio found in several great works of art and throughout the natural world.

Making learning accessible

While color improves the educational experience for all students, it can be transformational for students with learning disabilities, such as dyslexia or Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD). Color can be deployed through many methods to make educational materials more accessible to these students, including the practice of reading with color gradients.

According to The Atlantic, this gradient technique draws students' eyes from left to right, enabling them to read efficiently and fluently. It's particularly helpful for young learners who have a tendency to skip lines when reading passages aloud in class. And it may be beneficial for all types of learners who have difficulty focusing when reading for long periods of time in today’s technology-driven age of multitasking.

Color printing is a powerful asset to today's educators — particularly because it's so versatile. Teachers can use color for a variety of purposes in the classroom, from visual aids to student handouts and beyond. Color engages and inspires students, facilitating the creative and critical thinking that's so important for brainstorming original ideas and developing proficiency in complex subjects. Most importantly, it can be a tremendous asset for learners of all types, unlocking educational opportunities for everyone.

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