Learning, Technology and Visual Literacy
Learning is no simple matter. Any one theory fails to fully account for what really happens. However, the constructivist perspective is a useful paradigm for guiding educational inquiry and designing engaging activities. This view suggests that learners are builders of their own knowledge structures. The implications are that instructional interventions need to be carefully crafted to encourage this construction.
This view of learning has led to an interest in technology tools and its’ role for enhancing learning. Tools that facilitate externalization or making transformations on symbol systems are of particular interest. If one view of the information is good perhaps more views are better. Multiple portrayals can be useful for disembedding dimensions of the information and juxtaposing different knowledge structures. Learning often comes as we are given opportunities to elaborate and construct understanding through creating external representations. Computer portrayal tools and New Media can be powerful ways of accomplishing this. This kind of learning requires a new literacy for understanding visual spatial meaning and is one that we need to explicitly address as educators.
Communication technologies should not be a default option. Educators should consider the time investment and cognitive/social issues involved in using communication technologies; we need to be critical of our instructional tools and strategies.
Education needs tools to think with, not just tools to teach with.