Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Visual Thinking: Where Learning Meets Design

September is the schoolest month. After a summer of distractions, we reenter the merry hubbub of kids and classes, parents and planning. This fall, we'll be armed with a fresh arsenal from our trusty PLN and our beach daydreams. Our ongoing emphasis will be the value of illustrative lessons and design-based investigations. Using one's visual imagination to approach educational problems (whether historical, literary, mathematical, or scientific) can yield tremendous dividends in student collaboration and engagement.

A captivating video, entitled "Visual Thinking: Writing With Pictures," lays out the value in honing one's optical acuity. At its base, this absorbing piece from the Sean Kelly Studio asks whether our teaching relies too heavily on words. It claims that "creativity is about finding connections and learning to see those connections." This form of inspirational, image-based instruction helps transform the "complex into the clear."

Visual Thinking: Writing With Pictures from Sean Kelly on Vimeo.

Kelly's crisp words and "eye" icons remind us that text and visual pairings can inspire keen connections in the learning process. A write-up from Katie Lepi at Edudemic about "3 Ways Mind Mapping Can Be Used To Enhance Learning" reinforces this partnership between visual and textual explorations. The article promotes the MindMaple software, but it evolves from a tutorial in webbing theory into a promotion of graphicacy awareness. Essentially, inventive approaches to note-taking can engender colorful and permanent connections. Visual maps can expose relationships, trace patterns, and foster relationships.

Source: Edudemic

The flip side to this gospel comes from Christine McLaren, at the BMW Guggenheim Lab, who asks, "Data Visualization: It's Pretty, But Is It Useful?" McLaren outlines how to avoid the eye-rolling at overly pretty graphics by focusing on the underlying data. She presents a point-counterpoint debate between nuanced, classic illustrations and simplistic, modern graphics. After all, underneath everything is information, and finding the visual discourse means finding the meaning.

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