Complex Ideas, Conveyed Visually

This is the fourth post in the #EduBlogsClub blogging challenge for teachers.

We were prompted to share a post that includes a photo. I should start by acknowledging my own involvement and bias towards images. I have an undergraduate degree in Art and  Master’s in Art History. My arts education has enabled me to see patterns and ideas emerge around me that often go unrecognized. I gravitate towards images and believe they’re tremendously underused in learning, especially in higher education. Humans are wired to crave images. Images enhance cognition by engaging the affective domain of learning. This HaikuDeck I made back in 2015 captures some of these ideas.

As I reflect on this prompt, I’d like to step back from the word “photo” a bit and recognize the power of “images” in general. Photos imply images that were captured by a camera, either digital or analogue. Images are visual representations that could be generated through a variety of processes and tools. In our digital society, both photos and images hold untapped potential for learning.

Way back in 2009, I attended a conference about mobile learning at Pasadena City College. I was very new to the idea and still wrapping my head around the ways mobile content and access would transform the way we learn. At that conference, Laurie Burruss shared an illustration she created to convey this shift. It is shown below. This image accelerated my understanding of digital learning and helped me to process my ideas on a deeper level.  I’ve re-used it many times (with Laurie’s permission) in my own work.

From teaching to Learning by Laurie Burruss


A few weeks ago, Laura Gibbs shared the image below, which was created by Bryan Mathers (check out more of his awesome work here). I can see from Bryan’s Tweet in which Bryan shared the image that it was inspired by a presentation by Catherine Cronin who was paraphrasing ideas from Joi Ito (I love connecting the dots behind the narrative of an image and feel strongly that recognizing the narratives behind the ideas you contribute is an essential facet of digital citizenship).

Education is changing by Bryan M Mathers CC-BY-ND

In our mobile, digital society images play a powerful role and can be shared in a snap to inspire others around the world. I love looking back at these two images. This reflection reminds me of how my learning has changed as a result of digital learning. From the first image, which I saw at a face-to-face conference, to the second image, created by a person I was not connected with at the time (Bryan) through a Tweet shared by a member of my PLN (Laura).

I hope others will find these images as powerful as I have. And be inspired to create their own visual images and share them with CC licenses to support re-use and the spread of great ideas.

My favorite free online tools for making images:

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.