“Why Do You Hate Posters?”

By Jason Bretzmann, @jbretzmann twitter

“Why do you hate posters?”

I got that question recently as I was making suggestions to students for how to show information about themselves. My answer was long and winding, but that shouldn’t be much of a surprise.

It’s not that I hate posters, or even that I dislike them. It’s more that I don’t see the usefulness of them for most people (perhaps art students and those who simply like making them are exceptions).

I told my students to ask their parents, their grandparents, and the other adults they know, “When was the last time you made a poster?” My guess is that the last time they made a poster was in school. I don’t have a problem with posters, but if we’re going to practice a skill then maybe that skill should be something that transfers to something useful in our lives, in our careers, or in our future learning (college, career, and life readiness).

Conversely, imagine presenting your pitch before the board of directors as they sit around the conference table and you show them your poster with glue stick and cut-out letters. Imagine showing your learning in front of your college professor while holding and pointing to your poster board with extra glitter. Imagine applying for admission to the university, or for that scholarship that will keep you out of debt, but not finding a place to submit your 22” x 28” masterpiece.

What are the alternatives? Some people like easel.ly or visual.ly. I like piktochart.com and haikudeck. Haikudeck recently became available on the web as well as through your iPad. These are better choices.

Now imagine students creating a piktochart about themselves that could accompany (or replace) a resume. Imagine filling in the “Anything else you want us to know about you” blank with a link to a haikudeck.

How can students stand out in a vast sea of others? Present themselves visually with the latest technology.

So let’s push our students a bit out of their comfort zones, and let’s get out of ours. Let’s give students opportunities to create visual representations that are useful now and in their futures. Let’s encourage our students to practice skills that could set them apart from others as they create professional looking infographics. Let’s not worry about hating the poster, but instead focus on loving the other options.

btw: click the links above, or check out my visual resume below to see concrete examples!