What do I think of visual media? Personally, I can’t get enough of it. Ever since I was a tiny tot I have been a slave to anything that is large, eye catching, colourful, bright or tells me something interesting. In fact I have dedicated large parts of my childhood, teen years and adult life to absorbing as much visual media as possible. It is certainly true that most of my visual stimulation has come from the TV. Yes, you guessed it, I was the family member who was given the endearing title of ‘square eyes’.
Did my addiction for TV have any adverse effects on me? Not that I am aware of! Did I spend too much time in the house in front of a screen when I could have been playing outside in the garden? Not really. I still spent a huge amount of time in parks, gardens and playgrounds playing, building, creating and learning.
Nowadays I am a father who has the same concerns about visual media that my parents also had. So what do I do with my own children when it comes to visual media. Well, given that I live in a world where mobile devices are as numerous and important as a cash card or house key, I think I must help my children to see it for what it is.
And what is it?
The greatest learning medium that has ever been created! Some of you may argue “Hold on! What about books?” And I would certainly agree that books are a massively important part of learning and have been for thousands of years, but…Mass visual media is an instantly stimulating hit that never stops giving. The sheer number and variety of different learning opportunities you get with visual media is truly breath taking.
All teachers and educators know just how important visual learning is to their students. If you put a YouTube video on the students will quite happily sit there and absorb what is being directed at them. If you show them a picture that has a certain ‘WOW’ factor then they will undoubtedly become more engaged with the lesson(well at least they will in the short term).
There is no doubt that effective visual communication is an essential part of teaching. However for the purposes of this post, I am less interested in the visual communication provided by teachers and more interested in the visual communication of students.
Personally, I think that the more methods and mediums for visual communication that a student has, the better.
When presented with a blank page in a book it is often difficult for a student to become enthused. Lets be honest, a sheet of blank paper means one thing to most students – Oh no! I need to fill all that! Whereas a template for a Prezi, Powtoon or iMovie offers so much more appeal.
If students are given the resources, tools and research opportunities they can design and communicate their learning in ways that were unheard of until recently. This is a great quote from Brandon Jones which exemplifies the reasons why we must give our students and children the resources and time to build their visual communication skills.
Design = Communication
At it’s core, design is all about visual communication: To be an effective designer, you have to be able to clearly communicate your ideas to viewers or else lose their attention.
If we give our students the tools they will build. If they build, they will create. If they create, they will inspire. If they inspire, they will teach. If they teach, they will communicate.
To prove my point I have included some examples of what children can create to visually communicate if they are given the time, the trust and the tools.