Digital literacy – is it new? No. It has been around for years and has often been taught as part of the reading program, however what has changed, is the content. Like hearing and not listening, the same applies to visual literacy, we often look but don’t see. As stated in his TedTalk on digital literacy, Brian Kennedy highlighted the fact that 90% of all information we take in is taken in visually. Therefore I question, how are we making sure students are able to interpret visuals in a way that they can not only understand the message being conveyed, but use their metacognition to realize what the author did to ensure they understood the intended message, and have they the ability to analyze it in a way that they can replicate these types of strategies in their own visual communications? A first step is to ask whether I am demonstrating and modeling to my students these key elements of visual literacy when I share presentations, or key concepts? Simply – no.
No, not because of a lack of awareness of how our brain processes information eg. if you close your eyes and you say the first thing that comes to your mind when you hear the word ‘apple’, most people will say they saw an image of a red or green apple. Very few would say they saw the letters a, p, p, l, e. Therefore emphasizing most people are generally visual thinkers, not data processors. It is easier to remember items when they are a different size, font, shape, color ie, whether color is used in a symbolic way eg. red = danger. So I am very conscious of any work shared with my students to bold key words, underline headings, include subheadings, use bullet points where appropriate, plus use color, not only to separate each key idea, but to show connectedness between ideas where applicable. Therefore providing contrast, repetition and alignment as highlighted in both the Design better with CRAP article and Understanding visual design and hierarchy article.
What I need to do now, is to ensure that my slides don’t include too much information – limit each slide to one idea, paralleling the idea of only one idea per paragraph as mentioned in the article, Lazy eyes how we read on online, even if that means I have 20 slides! The second major thing I want to focus on is to include more visuals where possible. For me, it often comes down to a time factor for not doing enough this, so I need to change. Highlighting these various visual strategies to my students, I believe is to be key as well, so they know the purpose for using them, and how it enables our brain to interpret, analyze and remember information easier.
One last thing I want to look more closely at is the periodic table to visual literacy, which is below, as I feel there are some visual templates or ideas here that will genuinely support my teaching.
link to above table