Our Middle School students are putting together an informational booklet about our school’s solar panel installation. The student tasked with writing the introduction submitted this uniquely colorful page:
Notice that the color is washed out at the beginning and the end? His introduction and conclusion are quite faint. The topic label, and the three informational paragraphs in the middle, are each their own, much brighter color.
Speculation: To this internet-savvy student, color is used to highlight important information and links. Since web pages are frequently a non-linear and uniquely individualized experience (different people will click around the links in their own way), this use of color makes more sense than the linear use of headings and outlines.
In a traditional paper, the titles and headings are used to alert the reader to what important point will be made in the reading which follows directly after. In a traditional paper, the introduction encapsulates the entire argument (this is what I will prove….) and the conclusion often rehashes the argument. Thus, in a traditional paper, the introduction and conclusion carry weight. (And, the author hopes you’ll read the whole thing, but at least she expects you to read the introduction, headings, and conclusion.)
In this student’s more non-linear world, he expects his reader to want to skip what he considers fluff and zero in on his factual information. That’s what his color use is signaling…and all of the other middle school students I asked about the color use got it immediately…”here’s the important bit.”