Heathdale flower 19th January 2024

Mr Jeremy Whelan Wins Global Design Competition

Mr. Jeremy Whelan, Digital Learning & Innovation Facilitator, won the CidiLabs Creative Theme Contest by designing a Canvas course homepage theme using the CidiLabs DesignPLUS tool. The global competition highlighted educators' graphic design and UI/UX skills.

Heathdale flower

Congratulations to Mr Jeremy Whelan, our Digital Learning & Innovation Facilitator, who was named a winner of the CidiLabs Creative Theme Contest! 

The competition involved designing a Canvas course homepage theme/design using the CidiLabs DesignPLUS tool. It was a global competition for educators or instructional designers to flex their graphic design skills and their user interface/experience (UI/UX) design skills.

DesignPLUS is a time-saving, easy-to-use Canvas plug-in that helps you rapidly build and style high-quality courses that make learning engaging and accessible for all students. Mr Whelan's theme, along with the other winners', will eventually be added to the CidiLabs DesignPLUS product to help more course designers and educators become course design superheroes!

Mr Whelan shares more about his experience in the Q&A below.

How did you feel when you found out you won the CidiLabs Creative Theme Contest?

I almost jumped out of my own skin in great surprise and delight as I honestly wasn’t expecting it, given that I was up against many design entries from talented Instructional Designers from schools and educational institutions around the world. Receiving this recognition at an international level is very exciting and gratifying.

What inspired you to enter for the contest?

While I do certainly love my job of being a Primary School Teacher, one of my hobbies that I really enjoy is designing stuff. This is usually a combination of Graphic design, Instructional design, User Interface (UI) and User Experience (UX) design.

I have learnt so much through creating designs and templates for our Canvas pages ever since we went into our first covid lockdown and had to use Canvas for remote learning. I even learnt about HTML and CSS web coding to create all kinds of cool custom modifications and functionality on our Canvas pages.

The CidiLabs company has made this wonderful ‘DesignPLUS’ tool that makes these processes so much easier for people like me. So when I saw this design contest, I immediately wanted to share some more fun designs I was dreaming up using their toolset.

Describe the concept of the theme you created.

I had way too many ideas and not enough time so I just modified recent templates I made for Heathdale as well as a fun superhero themed design inspired by the comic strip/superhero aesthetic on the CidiLabs competition webpage.

Where did your interest in graphic design come from?

I’ve always been fascinated by graphic design in advertising and user interface/experience design in software and computer games. The colours, the fonts, the layout, the images, the style, the way the design grabs and directs one’s attention… and of course the ‘fun factor’! I find it very satisfying and therapeutic getting inspiration from all the ideas and aesthetics I see and then play around with different designs and ideas of my own in illustration design software.

How do you hope to see your Canvas course homepage benefit others?

Generally, when we walk into a store or go onto a website, we are looking for something. We look to signage, icons and visual layout to help us navigate to the thing we need. If the layout and visual directions of the store or webpage are well designed, then we feel confident and can easily and quickly achieve our objectives. If the design or visual directions are illogical, confusing or convoluted then the experience becomes frustrating. 

So, when we use a Learning Management System (LMS) like Canvas to present learning content to students, we need ensure that we provide a user experience that is both easy and welcoming. We want people to be able to find what they need with as few clicks as possible. It’s also important to have designs that aesthetically follow the general directions of the marketing team’s visual aesthetic choices so there is a professional cohesion of our College branding across our platforms.

It’s my hope that my designs and templates can give Heathdale and other schools a strong starting point to achieve the forementioned objectives of easy and welcoming user experiences for students, parents and teachers alike.

Is there anything you would like to add?

I would like to thank my boss, Mr Chad de Kretser, who is a kind and humble leader who insists on discipling and building others up and celebrating their successes. A big thank you is also in order to Violet Byrnes, Ben Danson, Nari Dent and Cathy Ward amongst others who have been instrumental in the journey to this point, and I look forward to some really exciting Digital Learning & Innovation to come!