Wednesday, September 06, 2006

Visual Literacy: Solid Education or New Technology Focus

I do many presentations and workshops on topics such as visual literacy. I am constantly amazed at how teachers want to hear about the newest and best technology but they do not want to hear about good educational approaches that involve technology. If I mention a new-to-them website such as a site that allows them to find pictures from various locations such as there is excitement in their eyes. I hear an “Awww” from the audience. If, on the other hand, I show them how them how they can use digital images to develop higher level thinking in their students in their subject area, I see the boredom. They will admit that they have not done any of these in their classroom and that they did not know about scaffolding within visuals. They even admit that they did not even know of these uses but their eyes still gloss over as I go over the educational-based learning approaches to using visuals as I am using vivid images.

Visual literacy, particularly using visuals of all sorts to learn from and to express learning is such a rich area for the classroom P-university. Visuals can be used to teach new vocabulary(body parts for health), to clear misconceptions (is a trench a little curved area on the side of the road or a very deep hole used in wars?), to show concepts that are hard to understand (chaos theory abstraction vs shoreline from high above), to promote “what next” or “what if” thinking (two pictures and predict what will happen next) to show changes (a plant growing over time), to see current up-to-the-moment culture from another country, to compare two items (such as two flowers).

Create a visually rich learning environment that does not depend on new technology!


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