Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Visual Learning Tools


For generation ‘X’ educators teaching students of the net generation, visual learning has a very different connotation. Granted visual learning has been around since the stone age. From caveman using sticks to draw pictures in the sand to good old-fashioned 20th century (21st century?) chalk and blackboard. But visual learning has changed. Wikipedia defines visual literacy in education as “a student’s ability to comprehend, make meaning of, and communicate through visual means, usually in the form of images or multimedia” The last word really help us understand the 21st Century understanding of visual literacy multimedia. Drawings and pictures are definitely one aspect to which sites such as www.flickr.com and  tooondoo.com will testify. However the multimedia aspect really takes learning to the next level.
Multimedia really captures the attention of auditory or visual learners and is second nature to most students who have already embraced it outside the classroom. For formal educators multimedia tools can be incorporated into daily lessons, units and used as formative or summative assessments. When I use multimedia for assessments I try to differentiate the tools students use to align with their abilities. For example some students are artistic and like to draw comic cells or detailed picture scenes. other students like to produce, act and edit film. They have their choice. When engaging students through a multimedia platform educators should prep the students so they understand the goals of viewing the multimedia. My students know the multimedia I use is a means to the end-  The end being the student’s understanding and comprehension of the materials learned through the use of multimedia.
In terms of a specific multimedia for teachers, I can’t stress how effective YouTube is for my classes. After pre-screening and approving of them, YouTube clips are a great way to captivate students and help them really grasp the essential question(s) posed. I recently created a smartboard presentation with the goal of students understanding the importance of border placements among countries. The lesson began with a link I had embedded to a clip discussing border placements in the Middle East (Israel’s borders in particular). I then played YouTube clips showing footage of different cities living on/near borders and how they were affected by borders being redistributed. The videos helped students to wrestle with and grasp the concepts of how border placements affect people, economies, etc. in the 21st Century- Words alone would not have produced the same impact.

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