Visual Learning is OK

I think one of the problems with moving to a more integrated technology framework at schools is that people think it implies that students don’t learn like they did before. Kids don’t read. Kids don’t focus. Kids don’t write. Kids don’t….. etc.

Somehow, there is the attitude that if kids aren’t learning like kids learned 20, 30, years ago, then it’s not valid.

But really, do any of us learn and consume information like we did 10, 20 years ago? I doubt it.

Look at newspapers – even if you read a printed paper (and I do – I get two papers delivered to my door every day), the newspaper is different than it was 30 years ago and certainly different than it was 50, 75, 100 years ago. Pictures were non-existent and very rare. Articles were much longer. Print was much smaller. That’s how people got information. Not now – photographs are prevalent, stories are shorter, fonts are bigger, infographics and maps visually represent information that wasn’t possible to communicate before.

How about YouTube? The viral nature of some videos is amazing. If you need to know how to do something? Kids will check YouTube before looking anywhere else. How to tie a tie? Much easier to communicate if you have a video than to describe in a book. Cooking? Same thing. Building something? Same thing. The instructional possibilities of using video are huge.

RSA Animate is a good example. These are excerpts from thought leaders with intricate drawings. Do the visuals detract? Absolutely not. They are a huge plus. Are they popular? You bet. TED Talks are another example. Video of thought leaders giving short, powerful talks.

The list could go on. How about art history classes? Are they still making slides? Or using collections found on many museum sites to build lectures?

So, why are schools (not every school/teacher, thankfully!) so resistant to meeting students’ learning needs through visuals? Why has coursework not moved in the direction of working with increasing visual learning? Why still rely on heavy print texts and assignments?

Moving to visual does not mean dumbing down.

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