Tuesday, December 16, 2008

When Will the Visual Revolution Get to Our Classrooms?

More and more we see the power of graphics, visualization, images, videos to convey a message, to touch our souls, to sell. Visual representations have been part of society much before we started using written code to communicate. In fact, images were used to record historical facts and communicate ideas in a group of people long before words in written form became common place.

egyptian wall

However, visual power has much been a passive one for the last centuries for the majority of people who were not into any visually-enhanced profession, or were not talented artists. Things are changing now. The way we communicate through digital media is giving another dimension to the interactivity and manipulation of visuals by amateurs, you and me. The power of communicating visually is in our hands, at our fingertips, one click away. No need for technicalities. Just a wish and you can communicate and interact with others in online photosharing spaces (just check the tons of possibilities at Mashable's 90+ photography resources and tools) and you're there, visually engaged and engaging others. How about the possibilities for videos? Exactly. This is a promising area. No need to be simply a mere spectator of great Hollywood productions. We have the power, you and me, to mix, remix, reshape ideas and share with the world, interact, and learn in the process in totally appalling ways with very little technical knowledge.

The visual revolution is here. But when will it reach not just some lucky schools with inspired educators? When will the educational system empower learners to work together with teachers to create a new and potent form of expression that might lead to creative, innovative ways to find solution to problems, to encourage critical thinking, to give a boost to learners self-esteem and motivation, to enhance meaningful interactions and cultural awareness?

How long will schools wait to be part of the vernacular video revolution (via Judy O'Connell)? How long will educators wait?

Related post:
Flickr Educational Power

Nik Peachey has compiled some interesting blog posts on the topic of videos.


  1. Hi Carla

    I really enjoyed reading this and totally agree. I think this is a marvelous time to be involved in education and the potential has never been greater. Thanks for mentioning my blog posting on the potential of video too.

    One of the sad reminders that came to me from doing the presentation here in Morocco was that, still too few teachers are provided with the necessary technical support and infrastructure they need to exploit these resources. Basically, some of the teachers who came along to the presentation said that they didn't even have electricity in their classrooms. Others said that since the internet had become increasingly a part of other subjects such as science and the humanities, that the English teachers had been pushed out of the classrooms that did have computer / internet access!

    Seems there's still a lot of work to be done in bringing about cultural change within educational establishments so that Englsh teachers are given the necessary support and recognition they need to be able to make these things happen.



  2. I know what you mean, Nik. And I know conditions for millions of people are far from ideal, but for the ones really wanting to give it a go, you can't imagine how creative they can get. I've seen wonderful collaborative projects among countries that needed no more than a camera to take photos of students and the project. I've seen tons of schools in poor countries connecting through iEarn.

    We are certainly in the privileged category and can't take for granted others that don't have even the minimum resources to get started. However, I feel that the willingness to make a move is much more powerful than the lack of resources.

    For example, a very nice project for teens we had in our school with a school in Argentina showed exactly that. Claudia Bellusci in Argentina didn't have computer access for her students to communicate with ours while they produced a scrapbook about Brazil. She asked permission from students' parents and she would take the kids to a LAN house across the street to let them communicate via the project blog.
    Brazil Argentina Scrapbook Project

    I'd say we have many reasons for not changing, but we have even more start the microrevolution. The main reason being our learners and our own professional satisfaction and enrichment!

    How about if we two wrote a post about ideas to work with technology in a place with few resources? We could ask our networks to contribute with ideas.

  3. You may find it interesting that Arcadia University recently made Visual Literacy an intellectual practice in its undergraduate curriculum. http://www.arcadia.edu/academic/default.aspx?id=13228

    Arcadia site: http://www.arcadia.edu/

  4. Very interesting, indeed, Peter. The way the Intellectual Practice is set is very forward thinking and the subject areas are really fundamental for students to acquire the skills they need to be successful professionals. What do you do there at Arcadia?

  5. Hi Carla,
    Check out the Visual and Critical Literacy page I have started on Wikieducator. Maybe you'd like to contribute with some of your material so we can build more open resources for ELT.

  6. Dear Bee,

    We could certainly add to your Wikieducator page about Visual and Critical Literacy. It looks great, and I'll certainly add as a reference to our Images4Education session as a reference. Let me know how I could collaborate with you on it. The session, in fact, shows how interested we are in the topic and have been working hard to add more of the idea of these multiple literacies to class planning.

  7. super blog, super post. Am pleased to have discovered you and hope to se you on Twiter, too.

  8. Thanks, Sarah! We'll surely bump into each other on twitter!


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