Challenge Accepted.

CEP 811 is a video goldmine!  This week we were encouraged to “Reimagine Learning” in this TEDx Talk by Richard Culatta, the U.S. Director of the Office of Educational Technology, and contemplate his challenge to “use technology to do entirely new things that simply were not possible before.”  Well Mr. Culatta, challenge accepted.

Add to this a refresher on Bransford, Brown and Cocking’s (2000) basis for learning with understanding and a new-to-me chapter by O’Donnell (2012) on constructivism and the ideas are never ending!  Really, give them a go!

In addition to Culatta’s call for personalizing education, Spector (2013) notes the significant similarities of the New Media Consortium’s 2011 Horizon Report and the National Science Foundation’s funded A Roadmap for Educational Technology.  Both of these independently researched studies arrived at the conclusion that new and emerging technologies, coupled with research in cognitive psychology, support the creation of personalized learner centric environments in which students can learn with understanding based on their current needs and interests.  Personalized learning not only allows teacher’s to meet students at their current position along the learning path, but it also creates the opportunity to address the student’s preconceptions and personal perspectives on a topic (Bransford, Brown & Cocking, 2000).

With last week’s Maker Experience still fresh in mind, I connected personalized learning environments with visual literacy.  More than ever before, science textbooks – and online sources – are multimodal, including visual aids and schema to convey meaning; however, an exploratory study by McTigue and Flowers (2011) found that students struggled to understand the intended meaning of such schema, lacked the vocabulary to discuss schema, and tended to devalue the schema’s importance and thus ‘skip’ the visual aids altogether. Furthermore, as in noted by Serafini (2011), multimodal texts require the reader to synchronously navigate between visuals and text to discern understanding.  Given that these sources are authored and taught by expert sources, it could be that we (as experts) have misjudged the ability of the learner (a novice) to identify meaningful patterns, organize content, and flexibly move between ideas (Bransford, Brown & Cocking, 2000).

In giving the students autonomy in creating their own visual aids, they will not only be able to construct meaning of the content in a personally contextualized manner and thereby simultaneously progress their understanding of the ideas, but also an environment to discuss design elements of the visual aids will be created and as such, students will expand their visual literacy.  If that were not enough, both the act of creating the visual aid and the use of a metacognitive design approach – in context of content and visual literacy – promote the transfer of knowledge (Bransford, Brown & Cocking, 2000) and cross-disciplinary extrapolation (Roswell, McLean & Hamilton, 2012).


Bransford, J.D., Brown, A.L., & Cocking, R.R. (2000). How people learn: Brain, mind, experience and school. National Academies Press. Retrieved from

McTigue, E., & Flowers, A. (2011). Science Visual Literacy: Learners’ Perceptions and Knowledge of Diagrams. The Reading Teacher, 64(8), 578-589. Retrieved from

O’Donnell, A. (2012). Constructivism. In APA Educational Psychology Handbook: Vol. 1. Theories, Constructs, and Critical Issues. K. R. Harris, S. Graham, and T. Urdan (Editors-in-Chief). Washgington, DC: American Psychological Association. DOI: 10.1037/13273-003.

Roswell, J., McLean, C., & Hamilton, M. (2012). Visual Literacy as a Classroom Approach. Journal of Adolescent & Adult Literacy, 55(5), 444-447. Retrieved from

Serafini, F. (2011). Expanding Perspectives for Comprehending Visual Images in Multimodal Texts. Journal of Adolescent & Adult Literacy, 54(5), 342-350. Retrieved from

Spector, J. M. (2013). Emerging Educational Technologies and Research Directions. Educational Technology & Society, 16 (2), 21–30. Retrieved from



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