It’s a colourful world!

What adjectives does a room with white walls, floors, and ceilings bring to mind? Do the words sterile, boring, empty, or uninspiring pop up?

Either classrooms are so empty the energy is sucked out of the students immediately after they cross the threshold, or there is so much going on that the attention of the students are not on the lecture, activity, or their work. Why are classrooms either one extreme or another? Why not try for a happy middle? One way to attain this happy middle is by painting the walls in the classroom. The use of color in the classroom can be an easy way to help with inspiring, empowering, motivating, and energizing students in the classroom, without being too much.

To use colors successfully in the classroom you first have to understand the psychology behind colors. Below is a chart explaining some of the psychology of color gotten from the eLearningBrothers. If you are interested in the psychology behind the use of color, there are many studies available online.

Red is a stimulant and can evoke passion, intensity, and excitement. The strong emotions it can evoke are commonly used to draw attention to key points, but too much can be… well, too much. Be careful not to invoke a sense of urgency that doesn’t exist in your courses or cause too much attention to a detail that doesn’t matter as much to the subject you’re trying to get across. Use it to emphasize, for good or bad, any point that you want to have stick with your learner.

Orange is an antidepressant and can be used as a stimulant that is playful and enthusiastic. (We at eLearning Brother really like orange!) As a stimulant, orange can be inspiring and encouraging to your learners. Use it to appear more light-hearted with your learners, particularly if your content is a little on the dry side. Try including it on quiz screens to motivate them and help them succeed!

Yellow is another stimulant and promotes memory, optimism, and (sometimes on the other end of the spectrum) caution. Brighter shades are harsh on the eyes, so use it sparingly. Use yellow to highlight points that should be memorized or to grab the learner’s attention. Pick a shade that can help convey a warm sense of cheer or happiness on positive feedback.
Green brings tranquility and peacefulness. It is refreshing and is the easiest color on the eyes. Green helps to relax muscles and deepen breathing. It will help your learners recover. from what could be a stressful activity or quiz. This kind of flexibility means that you can (and should!) use this color often and in just about any way you can imagine.

Blue encourages serenity and lowers the pulse (opposite of red), and invokes stability and serenity. It is liked by the widest range of humans. People are most productive when they work in blue rooms!
Use to calm learners when presenting complicated and overwhelming information, helping them to concentrate on your eLearning content rather than on its presentation. It is a color that many companies use and is easy to integrate into content without conflicting with branding guidelines.

Purple is the color of royalty, luxury, and success. It also can be paired with other colors to emphasize its effect on the learner. It also can represent imaginative or mysterious ideas. Consider using purple to help emphasize colors already dictated by your brand (where applicable) to give a sense of quality and nobility. Also, purple makes a great color to use in games and activities where you’re trying to capture a sense of mystique or sleuthing about.

Black elicits feelings of power, sophistication, and seriousness. Black is often the best choice for the bulk of text (or a dark gray). Black is a nice color to add to an overall look/feel to add some depth and mystery. It is basically a color that isn’t really focused on and seen. (Nor is it meant to be!)

White is seen as pure and clean. White space can be very powerful and help learners to stay focused. Additionally, white is a good color for fonts when a background color may be too dark to use black.

Pink is usually associated with sweetness, warmth, and energy. It’s often described as a color of playfulness and fun. Use pink in your courses to convey a light-hearted or positive message. Also, consider using pink if your primary audience is women, as there is a strong correlation between this color and femininity.

Using Color in the Classroom
Being able to use the right color in the classroom requires two things: knowledge of the students, and goals for classroom atmosphere. For example, brighter colors may work well in a grade-school classroom to help inspire creativity, but could be very distracting in a high-school classroom. Choosing a color to work best in your classroom also requires you to decide what is most important for your classroom environment. Do you want to inspire creativity, a calming environment, excitement, or hard work? All of these play into what color will work best in the classroom

If you would like students to focus on the lesson, a suggestion is to paint a bright color on the wall where instruction is given. The bright wall may help to keep the attention on the lesson, and not on other stimulants.

Incorporating the Theme of the Classroom
One last thing you may want to think about when decorating your classroom is the ‘theme’ with which you would like to decorate your classroom. For instance, if you are an English teacher, you would most likely decorate it with books, novels, manuscripts etc. Bright colors like neon green and hot pink, would clash with what is being used to decorate the classroom with, not to mention the content taught in the classroom. You want your room to promote whatever environment you choose, so make sure that everything in the classroom works in harmony to create that environment. 

Summary:
Make sure when deciding on the colors to use in your classroom think about:

1. the Psychology behind the color
2. the audience in the classroom
3. the environment you wish to promote
      — And, if applicable–
4. the decorative theme you wish to employ in your classroom.

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