They say that the eyes are the window to to the soul but perhaps the more accurate expression should be that the eyes are the window to the brain. Given that the brain is the center of learning, this is an important tidbit of information. We all know this, but brain research continues to confirm just how important the connection between the visual and learning can be.
Try this on for size, research approximates that between 80 and 90 percent of the information received by the brain is through the eyes (Hyerle, 2000). That's amazing! How about this one, vision is by far our most dominant sense, taking up half of our brain resources* (Medina, 2008) Teachers armed with this information know that the more visual an input becomes, the "stickier" it gets for our students.
Let's Get Digital
Digital tools are very, very good at enhancing visual literacy. I would say that this is one of the reasons I was drawn to technology in the first place. I frequently say "I'm not a tech guy"… maybe I'm a visual guy and the technology lets me achieve my visual goals. In any case, ensuring that you UTILIZE a healthy amount of visual aids when working with students can make an immediate, positive impact on your teaching and learning goals. Actually having students CREATE visual representations of their learning can be even more powerful (again, technology is really good at this but more on that later). I'll be blogging a lot about visual literacy and even hope to continue my "Friday Visual" series I started over a year ago on my personal blog.
For now, I've got three videos that you should watch when you get a chance. The first two videos are from the excellent Edutopia website (I first saw them over on Prezentation Zen) and they feature George Lucas and Martin Scorsese talking about the importance of visual literacy and visual communication. George Lucas goes as far to say that we should rename English class and call it Communication (naturally, this course would introduce the language and grammar of visual literacy in addition to traditional literacy). I'm curious what you think of this... feel free to use the comment feature on this blog.
The final video is from Dr. John Medina, author of the best selling book called "Brain Rules" (I've seen it on a number of your bookshelves).
So, please watch the videos and I encourage you to reflect about the visuals you use in your classroom during teaching practice. Are you using a wide variety of maps, charts, videos, diagrams, models, etc? How are you presenting these to students? How do they improve your teaching practices? Are you letting students create visuals that provide evidence of their own learning and understanding? The academic technology team is happy to help you integrate technology into your own visual literacy goals. Just let us know! Enjoy.
George Lucas on Teaching Visual Literacy and Communications
Brain Rule #10: Vision Trumps All Other Senses
Medina, J. (2008). Brain Rules. Seattle: Pear Press.
*Thinking about Apple stuff constitutes the other half of my own personal brain resources.