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Help Me Picture It

How do you bring visuals into your classroom?

September 30, 2012

The ideas people understand and connect with move forward, whether you’re in a classroom or the world of marketing. To be more compelling, visual communication seems to be increasing. FastCompany agrees. In a recent article, The Rise of Visual Social Media, they point out the trend toward ‘the visual.’

PEW concurs with its September 2012 study, Photos and Videos as Social Currency Online, and reports that over half (56%) of internet users either post or curate photos or videos online. In their words, “Photos and videos have become key social currencies online.” YouTube’s statistics also support this trend, with over 4 billion hours of video watched every month and 72 hours of video uploaded every minute.

While the notion that humans respond positively to visual elements is not necessarily new, in the digital era, photos and videos are more accessible and sharable.  Again according to YouTube, over 700 YouTube videos are shared on Twitter each minute. It’s interesting to think about whether Mitt Romney’s recent “47 percent” incident would have received as much attention if he had written those comments in a book instead of being captured on a live video.

In addition to the obvious implications for political candidates (and marketing departments) everywhere, perhaps there are also things instructors can consider for both in-person and virtual classrooms. Educational uses of visual information are seemingly endless. Here’s just one example in which it’s possible to gain a powerful world perspective from 1858 through 2048 (predicted) in this 15 minute TEDTalk.



Visuals should be about conveying information. Enter infographics, which have recently exploded. Here’s just one featuring flipped classrooms, introduced to us by GradHacker. You may have even seen the tool to make your own infographics – Visual.ly.com. Despite the positive aspects of infographics, there are a lot of questionable ones out there as well, so checking sources is key.  As this NYTimes article points out, visuals are more engaging, but they can also be misleading.

In the classroom, the trend toward the visual could be interpreted in a variety of ways: simply using more charts, creating/sharing an infographic, using animations and photos, playing a YouTube video, etc.


How do you bring visuals into your classroom?


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