Incorporating visual communication into your class increases students' visual literacy for a changing world.
What are the benefits of including visuals in the college classroom?
Aside from varying the pattern and pace of the class, thus keeping your students awake, there are other benefits to this holistic teaching strategy. Students learn to analyze visual communications and tell a manipulative presentation from an objective one. As they encounter effective visual communications, our students will be better able to communicate in our visually rich world.
Who is responsible for teaching visual literacy?
Just as we promote verbal literacy by requiring reading across the curriculum, we all should incorporate visual communication in our teaching. This does not simply mean showing a picture or running a video in lieu of a lecture. It requires critical thinking and analysis. For example, you might ask students to comment on how the content of the presentation compares to other content. Does the visual presentation slant the argument? Is the presentation objective or skewed?
If my school lacks up-to-date technology, can I include visuals in my classroom?
Visuals need not be high tech and need not even be "pictures." The world around us is visually rich. Just look out the window. A field of grass or a flower bed can be used to study biology, botany, or drawing. Physics instructors teaching velocity and acceleration can have students time the movement of cars passing down a street near the classroom. In computer programming, flow charts _are commonly used. These standardized diagrams help students develop a holistic view of a process. How many other logic-, process-, or sequence-based disciplines could use standardized diagrams?
How can I learn to make more effective visual presentations?
Two suggestions come to mind. First, you might want to take an art class, particularly an elementary course in design. You'll enjoy it, and you'll learn about the design elements and principles that apply to all visual communication.
Second, it is worthwhile to show your visual presentations to someone outside your field and not familiar with the content. They will be able to help you judge the effectiveness of the presentation.
You might also ask a K-12 teacher's opinion of your presentation. Most of them had to learn about preparing visual presentations as part of their education, and they're quite adept at appealing to the visual sense. Or how about getting your faculty development office to run a workshop on effective principles of visual design? A quick overview of the elements and principles of design might take only an hour or two.
- National Education Association