Thursday, March 17, 2011

Internet and Visual Literacy in the classroom

Here students are visual and kinesthetic learners - using the Wii to play Medieval Games in World History (Jan 2010)

Visual literacy and the internet are important to teaching and learning. The internet offers a wide variety of sources, information, and experiences that cannot otherwise be experienced by the teacher or the student. Visual literacy is equally important. As the internet plays an increasingly larger role in education, so, too, does visual literacy. Students are constantly taking in images via the World Wide Web and it is the duty of 21st century teachers to provide students the means to be critical consumers of visual information and cues.
Within my classroom I have begun to encourage students to create pictorial representations of concepts that they do not understand. Drawing for understanding encourages a level of synthesis that students may not otherwise reach. Additionally, using tools such as SmartArt and Inspiration allow students to express themselves in a visual way and requires the learner to evaluate text with a much more critical eye. Prior to this visual literacy unit in Grand Canyon University’s Tec538 course I was the one creating the visual representation for the students (or relying on the textbook publisher to do so for me). Upon completion of the unit I have been inspired to encourage students to create their own individual meaning using images. I hope this will encourage taking ownership of their own learning and creating a product that is significant to them as an individual learner.
The internet plays a vital role in my classroom. As our district struggles with budget cuts, whenever I can use the internet to find free or low-cost opportunities for my students I take advantage of it. I am an avid and critical consumer of e-formation (e-information – get it? No? Eh, it was worth a shot). However, with such a heavy reliance upon the internet I must also work toward being a master planner. There is always a potential for circumstances beyond my control (i.e. the server crashing), and therefore it is more important that I am a master of my craft than ever before. A teacher cannot rely solely upon the internet and it is only with practice and continued education that a teacher can even begin to take advantage of all that the internet has to offer.

On C-SPAN's Washington Journal Clay Shirky discusses the role of internet access in the United States' future


  1. You might be interested in the resources on my visual literacy website for educators:

    Frank Baker
    media literacy clearinghouse

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