Brief description of creativity technique

A moodboard is a visual collage for presenting the essence and idea of something, for example, of a dream house, dream university work space, a dream job or a person. A moodboard can be tangible, e.g. on a A2 or A3 sheet of paper, or it can be virtual (created e.g. online with applications, such as Pinterest, Photoshop, or other Adobe programmes, PPT, etc.).

Exercise for skills at the level of:





Learning objectives of the exercise

Creating moodboards develops soft skills that are greatly needed in work environments, including problem-solving, synthetic, and analytic skills, openness and the ability to communicate visually. 

Benefits of moodboards:

  • practice analysis by looking for visual pieces that interact with one another. 
  • see and understand how different elements work together (synthetic skills) by assembling components. 
  • understand topics in both greater breadth and detail.
  • gain deeper understanding of a topic by working through a checklist of visual attributes, arranging visual representations of those attributes, and seeing the elements work together as a whole.
  • open minds for creativity and new possibilities.
  • Individuals can create their ideal world and may find new solutions.
  • develop a concept and communicate the idea and essence of it visually to others. 
  • A moodboard can also be used as a guiding ‘document’ to remind what is wanted during the work process.

By looking at many moodboards on the same topic or observing patterns from collected materials, one can find similarities on repeating themes and this can be a key to unlock development. When used this way, it is also an excellent tool to co-create with people who are not used to using creativity techniques.

This technique is relatively easy and accessible.

Skills developed/enhanced by the exercise









Tolerance of ambiguity, uncertainty and complexity

Others, please specify



Critical Thinking

Divergent thinking skills


Negotiating skills


Strategic thinking



In person: 25 min.+, with a pre-chosen topic; can give more time to complete as homework. Faster as an individual exercise. Allow more time for work in pairs and groups.

Online: 10 minutes synchronous presentation of concept and examples and giving directions for exercise; allow at least ten minutes for students to create their boards or give as homework: allow 5 min. for presentation and discussion

How many people are needed?

One, or more (better for individuals, pairs or small groups)

Materials required

In person: PowerPoint, internet access, magazines and other source materials that can be cut and pasted, scissors, template

Online: PowerPoint, internet, template, students may use paper, scissors, glue asynchronously or create with a device

Instructions for conducting the exercise

Step 1. Show students examples of moodboards such as these: and explain the technique.

Step 2. Choose a topic (instructor or student’s choice), e.g. an ideal classroom. Students use their problem-solving and analytic skills to understand the topic and components of the topic. 

Step 3. Students search for pictures, words, etc. from magazines, paper or online, and select materials that best suit the moodboard’s topic/theme/mood. It is okay to include drawings and hand-wrtten notes. Students may also take and use their own photographs in their moodboards.

  • Remind students to be direct, straightforward and judicious with details. For example, if they find two similar images, only add one to the moodboard. Setting a limit to the number of images, for example six or ten, can help students to focus and may help them to make selections in a shorter amount of time.
  • If colors do not match the desired color palette, students can be instructed to put a colour palette next to the picture. 
  • Instead of reading images one by one, emphasize their interaction with each other and have them read as a whole.
  • Some images have more than one subject. It may be necessary to note the feature that one wants to emphasize next to the image.

Step 4. Students layout and assemble/paste their moodboard on the template provided. The template allows learners to create their own layout for their moodboard. They may list keywords in the left column to help organize their research and imagery gathering process.
Step 5. Students present and explain the moodboard.

Case study from desk research

In education, moodboards are broadly used in design studies. However, students from any sector could use them e.g. to identify study paths and career aspirations.

Examples of moodboards: