Review by Amanda Bindel, Common Sense Education | Updated August 2013
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Autodesk Digital STEAM Visual Design

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Cool tool helps teach principles and elements of design in 3-D

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Teachers say (4 Reviews)
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6-12 This grade range is a recommendation by Common Sense Education and not the developer/publisher.
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Pros: Multiple visual and text examples make terms easy to understand, and the app is free.

Cons: Missed opportunity for incorporating audio; no assessment included in app.

Bottom Line: Autodesk Digital STEAM Visual Design can be a good tool for individual, self-directed learning.

Use individual principles or elements for whole-class instruction or examples, or let individual students with an interest in visual design explore and learn self-directed. Use project-based learning to assess what kids have learned by having them demonstrate the principles and elements in their own design.

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AUTODESK DIGITAL STEAM VISUAL DESIGN takes kids through elements and principles of visual design in the same 3-D design space used in design software. Each element or principle is defined and then shown visually. The Learn More section further explains the concept with text and images, giving how-to examples as well as real-world examples. The other apps in the Autodesk Digital STEAM curriculum include Measurement and Applied Mechanics and are designed to introduce kids to science, technology, engineering, arts, and math.

The list of elements and principles on the left of the screen serve as a table of contents. Kids can progress through each topic in order or tap the one they want to explore. They'll read a brief definition of the term and then see it and interact with it -- drawing a line, exploring forms in 3-D, or manipulating a color wheel, for example. They can then tap Learn More to read more in-depth information about the term.

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This interactive textbook does a beautiful job of showing the principles of visual design, with written explanations that are easy to understand. The visual examples clearly demonstrate the principles and reinforce understanding. This isn't a game or creation tool, though. Kids will take what they learn here and use other design tools to put their new knowledge into practice.

Kids will learn about the design elements of space, points, lines, shapes, forms, value, texture, and color. They'll learn the design principles of balance, emphasis, rhythm, unity, proportion, contrast, continuation, and economy. Kids will also practice reading nonfiction texts for information. After reading the definitions, seeing a visual example of the principle or element, seeing and reading about how to implement it, and seeing examples of it in the real world and art, kids should have a good understanding of visual design fundamentals.

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Overall Rating

Engagement Is the product stimulating, entertaining, and engrossing? Will kids want to return?

The design is beautiful, and the material is high-interest for kids who want to learn about visual design. A few elements are interactive, which will help engage young users.

Pedagogy Is learning content seamlessly baked-in, and do kids build conceptual understanding? Is the product adaptable and empowering? Will skills transfer?

Kids should get a pretty comprehensive feel for each design concept by reading about it and seeing examples both in created and real-world images.

Support Does the product take into account learners of varying abilities, skill levels, and learning styles? Does it address both struggling and advanced students?

There are no instructions or help, but the interface is intuitive. Autodesk's Digital STEAM website offers ideas for applying new knowledge.

Common Sense Reviewer
Amanda Bindel Classroom teacher

Teacher Reviews

(See all 4 reviews) (4 reviews) Write a review
Featured review by
Mona E. , Technology coordinator
Technology coordinator
Huntington High School
Huntington, WV
This app teaches students the elements of design in a fun way.

I like the use of technology to teach students the elements of 3D design.

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