Is Visual Representation the Key?

Very recently, my colleagues and I began working on what we were introduced to as a “passion project”. The purpose of this project is to give us involved the opportunity to dedicate some of our professional time at school towards a project that we think will help our students and the learning culture at our school. As a Math/Science teacher, it was difficult for me to narrow down my idea to something I could see results from over the next few months. After a lot of research and thought, I decided to go with “increasing the amount of visual representation” in my class to see if there would be an increase in learning as well. Of course, through my personal research and through this week’s readings, my hypothesis is and should be, that it will surely enhance the learning. An article that stood out to me from week one was ‘Life on the Screen: Visual Literacy in Education’ where it is quoted by George Lucas, “If students aren’t taught the language of sound and images, shouldn’t they be considered as illiterate as if they left college without being able to read or write?” After reading this quote, I feel this is an obvious choice of investigation. 

 

the image is from Amit Kapoor's slideshare: https://www.slideshare.net/amitkaps/storytelling-with-data-see-show-tell-engage
the image is from Amit Kapoor’s slideshare: https://www.slideshare.net/amitkaps/storytelling-with-data-see-show-tell-engage

During my research, I found this ‘Visual Language’ image to be quite humorous, since I once again had to appreciate my own ignorance towards just how much of a story visuals and images can convey.

 

We are currently working on a Geometry unit in Math, which is in itself a very visual unit. For the unit my teaching partner and I will be having the students construct some form of real life obstacle course (ie. skatepark, dog agility course, parkour course, etc…) to demonstrate their understanding of surface area and volume. Along with the construction, students will need to focus on wood or plastic for the surface area and concrete, as a possible example for the volume within their 3D structures. I will be using the following two images to initiate the instruction and preparation for their project.

 

By Parkour Visions: https://www.globalgiving.org/projects/parkour-gym/photos/?pageNo=3
By Parkour Visions: https://www.globalgiving.org/projects/parkour-gym/photos/?pageNo=3

I feel that these images will be helpful since both images give unique visuals of possibilities for their own project idea and they both will initiate a great discussion about how they see different 3D shapes being used for this purpose. As stated in the Presentation Zen, ‘Nurturing curiosity & inspiring the pursuit of discovery’, “a necessary element of good teaching is curiosity. That is, demonstrating our own curiosity and inspiring and cultivating the natural curiosity in others.” How I further plan to use the images is to begin discussing my own curiosity towards how and why the shapes and designs have be chosen for the courses seen, which can hopeful trigger the curiosity of the students to discover how they can use the shapes for their own design.

Photo Credit: Ellen5e via Compfight cc
Photo Credit: Ellen5e via Compfight cc

 

 
Finally, I will be using the images to act as the main component of the project details we give students as a checklist to help guide students through the project. After all, according to my passion project hypothesis and the visual language image used above, why would my students need me to write out a bunch of small paragraphs to tell them what they need to show understanding of for their project, when they can just look at a couple of images? I’m looking forward to see how this works out as a start and what my next steps will be! 

Improving my Design Quality

Week one’s topic has already, really got me thinking about how much I need to change the web-based resources I am using for my students and the direction I want to begin going with my CoeTail blog. Technology design is something that I am hoping to improve in my day to day, digital communication and after reading through the “Design better with CRAP” and “Understanding Visual Hierarchy in Web Design” articles, I’ve realized some obvious and simple ideas to help me begin.

Screenshot by Rob Desormeau
Screenshot by Rob Desormeau

My current blog does meet a few of the ideas within these articles that I was originally going for. I wanted a theme that was clear and structured in a organized way and I feel my blog does have proper alignment, repetition and some aspects of contrast to reinforce this. Apart from that however, my blog is pretty boring and I could easily see it being skipped over in comparison of some of the other blog themes I’ve noticed of my colleagues. I have not done a very good job making it “aesthetically appealing”.

 

A few of the areas I’ve decided to improve in that I think are very important are; ‘contrast’ in terms of color and size, ‘proximity with visuals’ and ‘style and texture’. Through searching more diligently through the available themes, I found that I actually really liked my current theme the most and began to look through my blog site to figure out how to make it a more visually appealing design.

Screenshot by Rob Desormeau
Screenshot by Rob Desormeau

As you can see with my before and after, I have begun to make some pretty great improvements. I started with, what I think, is a more catchy title for my blog along with background and header colors to improve the contrast and style and texture to make the page stand out more and the first glance a better visual experience. Probably the most important thing I figured out to improve the page is the ‘featured image’ tool. By using this tool, I have been able to greatly improve my blog visually through the idea of proximity. By using featured images to represent my posts along with a title, I can allow both components to compliment each other and  better attract readers to my posts. This weeks ideas have made it clear to me that I do need to get better at image choice and titles that represent my posts. Finally, what I like the most about my updated blog site goes along with the idea of ‘density and whitespace’. My page is visually appealing but, is not cluttered which will make it easy for readers to scan my page and easily find what they are looking for.
Although I have improved my page I realize that I have only began to move towards the design potential of my blog site. I have also realized how the ideas from this week will also need to reflect more in my posts as well. I am looking forward to the rest of this course to see what more I will be able to learn and do!