Posts Tagged ‘visualization’

Going Multimodal: Notes from the March 17 Webinar

March 18th, 2011 Comments off

Concept map of North American trees - ConiferousMany thanks to the good folks who came out for yesterday’s webinar, “Multimodal Strategies for Communication & Expression.” Ann Marie and I appreciated the contributions made, which I’ve incorporated into our notes below.

The content of the webinar was based on a 2008 white paper that was commissioned by Cisco and written by the Metiri Group, titled Multimodal Learning through Media: What the Research Says. I liked this report when it was published and decided to resurrect it as the subject of a webinar because, at just 24 pages (including appendices), it’s a bite size synthesis of the research behind multimodal learning and how it can inform the use of multimedia for instruction. The framework of the paper centers on three key aspects of multimodal learning:

  • The physical functioning of the brain (neuroscience)
  • The implications for learning (cognitive science)
  • What the above means for the use of multimedia

So, we set out to define multimodal learning, to summarize the research behind it and, most enjoyably, demonstrate and provide examples of how it can be accomplished through multimedia applications on the MLTI MacBooks. Read more…

March 17 Webinar: Multimodal Strategies for Communication and Expression

March 14th, 2011 Comments off
Cartoon image of left brain-right brain concept

Image by vaXzine, licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 2.0 Generic license

Multimodal strategies can be used by teachers and students alike to convey information, ideas, and concepts, as well as to express knowledge and understanding. Because each individual student effectively responds to unique inputs, such as text, audio, and visual (among others), combinations are essential to successful teaching and learning experiences.  In this webinar, we’ll review the research behind the need for multiple modes (multimodal) learning, as well as examine applications on the MLTI MacBooks that support related strategies. Comic Life, Freemind, GarageBand, iPhoto, OmniGraffle, and Photo Booth will be featured.

Please join Cynthia Curry and Ann Marie Quirion Hutton on Thursday, March 17, at 3:15 or 7:15 PM. To register, click on the Webcasts tab at the top of this page and navigate to the calendar of webinars.


Notes for 2/17/2011 Webinar – Visual Literacy – Seeing Meaning

February 21st, 2011 Comments off
greeneyes - licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 2.0 Generic license.

Consider this Part 2 of:

March 18 – Perceiving Reality: Visualization
Recordings: 3:15pm WebCast | 7:15pm WebCast

When we try to define Visual Literacy, there are many factors to consider. Here are four definitions that have been proposed by others:

“Visual Literacy refers to a group of vision-competencies a human being can develop by seeing and at the same time having and integrating other sensory experiences. The development of these competencies is fundamental to normal human learning. When developed, they enable a visually literate person to discriminate and interpret the visible actions, objects, symbols, natural or man-made, that he encounters in his environment. Through the creative use of these competencies, he is able to communicate with others. Through the appreciative use of these competencies, he is able to comprehend and enjoy the masterworks of visual communication.” source

Visual literacy is a set of abilities that enables an individual to effectively find, interpret, evaluate, use, and create images and visual media. Images and visual media may include photographs, illustrations, drawings, maps, diagrams, advertisements, and other visual messages and representations, both still and moving.” source

C.”Visual literacy stems from the notion of images and symbols that can be read. Meaning is communicated through image more readily than print, which makes visual literacy a powerful teaching tool.” source

D.”Visual literacy includes such areas as facial expressions, body language, drawing, painting, sculpture, hand signs, street signs, international symbols, layout of the pictures and words in a textbook, the clarity of type fonts, computer images, pupils producing still pictures, sequences, movies or video, user-friendly equipment design and critical analysis of television advertisements.” source
Any one of these serves as a teachable definition. But where does visual literacy fit into commonly accepted educational standards? The last webinar on Visualization talked about Maine Learning Results and 21st Century skills, but now we have Common Core for both ELA and Mathematics. Not surprisingly, there are many references to visual skills included in the many standards. In ELA, for both Literature and Information, strand 7 has many references to those skills. For Literature, strand 6 also includes many pointers to visual skills.
An example standard from ELA:

Integrate information presented in different media or formats (e.g., visually, quantitatively) as well as in words to develop a coherent understanding of a topic or issue.

Say, for instance, you wanted to have students understand Rev Dr Martin Luther King, Jr’s famous “I Have a Dream” speech. You could use YouTube video, text, audio or even a Wordle to see it from different perspectives.

In Math, you can see that visuals are important in both Data and Statistics. So, we can feel pretty good that we don’t have to “add” Visual Literacy to an already burgeoning set of standards.

There are some simple strategies that teachers can use to bolster the visual skills of students. At the eduscapes website, they outline five in particular:

Reading Visuals – Seeing what is there
Interpreting Visuals – Looking for meaning in the image
Using Visuals – Constructing meaning by collecting and organizing images
Reconstructing Visuals – Making mashups of images to create new meaning
Making Visuals – Creating your own images

Fortunately, for each of the strategies we have technological resources available to us.

Reading images – the Internet, iPhoto, PhotoBooth, online book illustrations, etc.
Interpreting images – the Internet, iPhoto, PhotoBooth, online book illustrations, etc.
Using images – the Internet, iPhoto, PhotoBooth, online book illustrations, Comic Life, Keynote, OmniGraffle, etc.
Reconstructing Images – iPhoto, PhotoBooth, Comic Life, Acorn, internet resources like JibJab’s Elf Yourself. etc.
Making images – SketchUp, iPhoto, PhotoBooth, Numbers, OmniGraffle, NoteShare’s SketchPad, Acorn, Data Studio, Logger Pro, Grapher, Keynote, etc.

Here are some online resources with lessons and suggestions for incorporating Visual Literacy into different curricula:

What Could America’s Top Models Be Thinking?

Analyzing the Purpose and Meaning of Political Cartoons

Teaching Visual Literacy to Students

Visual Literacy Home

Smithsonian Education – Every Picture Has a Story

Visual literacy K-8

"Seeing," Self-Realization and Social Networking – More on Making Meaning

July 15th, 2010 Comments off
Who Am I? from licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 2.0 Generic license (

Who Am I? licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 2.0 Generic license from

Two conversations I have had lately have really made me think about students, teaching, technology and 21st Century skills. Added to that, a number of my former students have friended me on Facebook and have talked about what they remember about my class. Basically, my thoughts have been directed to the difference between what we, as teachers, want them to remember, and what they actually remember. Then, I am led to ponder how that melds with the specific memories that lead to success in their lives. Deep, huh? So, once again, I am on the trail of making meaning.

The first conversation occurred in a grocery store with a private college math professor with whom I collaborated with in the 90’s, helping teachers understand more about fractals, chaos, and dynamical systems. We talked about how students are coming into class more prepared to visualize complex concepts, and how a few of his graduates have made a business out of creating incredible visualizations. One example he shared with me was based on the confluence of Obama’s inauguration and cell phones. The first, simple visualization dealt with looking at the national map and a kind of dynamic graph that showed the number of outgoing cell phone calls at any particular time. The map had all these jiggling little points that were cool to look at, and then the “bloom” of calls being made from the Washington D.C. area over the days of the inauguration. Pretty neat, and the results were all to be expected. Then his eyes twinkled as he described the second visualization – the same national map, but the little jiggly points represented the destination localities of those same cell phone calls. Wouldn’t that animation have been valuable to Political Action Committees and lobbyists! I thought about this as an example of how our students may “see” beyond our ken, and how we need to recognize that visual literacy is crucial part of literacy in general in the 21st Century.

The second conversation was during a family gathering talking about all our children as young adults and how they have found their niches. Not all of them enjoyed school, feeling as if they were overlooked because they weren’t necessarily the kids who were good at “doing school.” Conversely, many of their teachers were not skilled at recognizing students as individuals with different interests, talents, and abilities. But these kids grew up, found jobs, and raised families in spite of the way they were taught. When we tried to analyze their successes, we came to the conclusion that they were able to look at problems in a methodical way, and they were mostly self-taught. Yes, learning to read and do math were important – don’t get me wrong. But we agreed that their scores on common assessments generally made less difference to their success than their experiences in authentic learning. To them, learning how to learn made all the difference, and they love to learn in their own milieu. What helped them the most was their ability to adapt – a very important skill in the world of today and the future. I have yet to be convinced that most of the assessments given nowadays to gauge student achievement actually measure the skills needed in the world they will inherit. I thought about this as an example of how universal design and the ability of technology to individualize will help today’s students to show their interests and talents in a way that was not readily available last generation and prepare them for their roles in the 21st Century.

Then, there have been my Facebook conversations with former students as “friends.” I would agree that it has been a small, self-selected sample, but it has been both a pleasant and provocative experience to “hear” them. They have shared a bit of their journeys through life and I can’t help feeling a little pride in having had a small part in their successes. When I think back to my interaction with most of them and their classes, I realize that usually they had “permission” to be themselves and they took full advantage of it. Then I recognized that Facebook actually promotes a similar kind of self-realization. Web 2.0 social networking can educe personality and individualism in ways that old-school education often couldn’t. What users choose to reveal about themselves is a reflection of what they think about themselves. This kind of reflection and connection with others can lead to a higher level of personal interaction that has the potential of enhancing learning as individuals and in groups. So, finally, I thought about this as another example of how we, as teachers, need to appreciate how the world outside of school has changed, and how we need to adjust our practice accordingly to meet the challenges of the 21st Century.

So, to take all these random thoughts and apply them to making memories and meaning, let’s try to consolidate them. 1) This generation of students can visualize in ways we might not have appreciated before, so we can try to take advantage of that “open door” to their learning to help them remember what we think is important. 2) Our students are definitely distinct individuals, with different experiences, talents and learning styles. Providing them with relevant avenues for learning and assessment will allow for better retention of processes and content. 3) The potential for self-realization that social networking provides is important to include in the 21st Century classroom as another avenue for constructionist teaching and learning.

Thinking Spatially about Learning: ISTE 2010 Conference, Denver, June 29.

June 28th, 2010 1 comment

This post contains links and information relating to my session at the ISTE 2010 Conference in Denver, looking in to the idea of spatial learning and how students can use digital tools to apply spatial learning in their studies.

Session Description

Tools used in the session:
Google Earth
ArcExplorer Online

Useful links, interesting spatial resources:
Google Earth Community

ESRI GIS Education Community

Google LatLong Blog

Google Earth Blog

Google Earth Lessons

GIS Lounge

Making Maps: DIY Cartography

Digital Geography

Readings on Spatial Thinking and Learning:

Learning to Think Spatially: GIS as a Support System in the K-12 Curriculum,
published by the National Research Council (2006)

ESRI GIS Education Community Blog – Spatial Thinking explored and encapsulated.

Spatial Thinking in the Geosciences, Carleton College

Center for Spatial Studies, UCSB

‘Thinking Spatially’, Reginald Golledge, UCSB

Other useful links and works referenced in session:

Brain Rules – Dr. John Medina

Simon Armitage – Poet

My Delicious page Geography Tag Bundle

Questions or comments? Please leave them below, or contact me directly:

Making Meaning – Perceiving Reality – Visualization

March 29th, 2010 2 comments

First of all – check out the webcasts – It’s all about the images!

March 18 – Perceiving Reality: Visualization
Recordings: 3:15pm WebCast | 7:15pm WebCast

From the caves of Lascaux to the dense infographics of today, visualization has played an important part in communication. In the webinar, we spent a lot of time looking at different visualizations and discussing them, their purposes and their special features. For example, maps are visual tools that help people navigate, plan strategies, and can even give information about the inhabitants of areas. It is amazing to compare maps to satellite images to see the accuracy of mapmakers.

When we look at some of the visualizations that are produced digitally, we can see that there are two features that make for good visualization – how much information we take in at a glance, and how dense the information can be when we pay closer attention.

As we look at these graphics, we find ourselves coming in contact with data in a different way, a way that our students may be better at handling than we are. Because many of us grew up using words and numbers to make meaning, we might not be able to extract meaning at the same rate or efficacy that a “screenager” might. But, as teachers, we understand literacy and fluency are skills that can be developed as part of a learning process. Some academics call this visual literacy.

To help us expand out thinking about visualization, let’s see if we can think of some widely different ideas and ask – Is this a form of visualization?

How about a red traffic light? A walk signal? A mathematical equation? Musical notation – an orchestral score? Models and simulations? Guitar Hero?

Now let’s explore how we can use the MLTI laptop to make some visualizations for our classrooms. We can easily use any of the spreadsheets and databases, like Numbers, NeoOffice, Omini Graph Sketcher, Google Docs, Bento, Data Studio and Logger Pro to create graphs and charts from collections of data. We can use Omni Graffle to create all sorts of graphic organizers from the templates included, or use FreeMind to make mind maps. Pasco’s MyWorld can help connect data to location to create some amazing geographical visualizations.

We discussed visualizations that made a difference to us.  my choice was the Mandelbrot Set – it helped me deal with the mathematics of fractals and chaos – and it’s pretty.

To be completely honest, it is tough to just write about visualization, therefore I invite you to browse through the following resources:

Weblinks to many Infographics:

Olympic Pictograms Through the Ages – Video Feature –

Information Is Beautiful | Ideas, issues, concepts, subjects – visualized!

5 Best Data Visualization Projects of the Year | FlowingData

15 beautifully illustrated infographics for your inspiration – – Graphic Design Inspiration and Web Design Trends

30 new outstanding examples of data visualization  – – Graphic Design Inspiration and Web Design Trends

Creation of Visuals/Infographics

Tableau Public | explore, create, share.

Tutorial effort – FreeMind – free mind mapping software

Writing and Essay Using FreeMind | Home

VocabGrabber : Thinkmap Visual Thesaurus

Visual Understanding Environment

Tagul   – Gorgeous tag clouds

WordSift – Visualize Text

Text 2 Mind Map – The text-to-mind-map converter

Visual Literacy Links
Visual Literacy Cyberculture and Education

Course: Business (need to register to see demo course for this and the next link)

Visual Literacy: An E-Learning Tutorial on Visualization for Communication, Engineering and Business

Trying to Define Visualization/Visual Literacy

What It’s Like on the Inside: Data Visualization for the Classroom

A Periodic Table of Visualization Methods – You gotta see this one!!!

Standards That Deal With Visual Skills

ASCD on 21st Century Learning

Enguage 21st Century Skills

Maine Learning Results

Other Links to Stuff  (That we might not have talked about…)

Tableau/Read Write Web Contest:

Zooming in the Mandelbrot Set:

Chopin intervals:

Bach Crab Canon on a Mobius Strip:

Graphical Score of Beethoven’s 5th – first movement:

Great Thanks to Barbara Greenstone for her fun links and to Barbara and Cynthia Curry for their Visualization Notebook

March 18 Webinar – Making Meaning – Perceiving Reality – Visualization

March 15th, 2010 4 comments

elod-eye on Flickr

Visualization is a term that is thrown around somewhat indiscriminately. This webinar is designed as a way to dip into visualization and to help educators get a grip on understanding the subject and think about how it applies to their classrooms. Woven into visualization is the topic of visual literacy, a skill that is considered by many to be crucial to the whole idea of literacy. This webinar will combine the ideas and take the position that visualization is a skill that is specified in Maine Learning Results and 21st Century skills. The MLTI image, and other resources provide tools that can create visualizations and/or help develop visual literacy. Come join us on that Thursday for either of the two sessions.

3:15 session

 7:15 session