Some Thoughts From the Article "Visual Literacy and the Classroom" by Erin Riesland
Riesland, Erin. "Visual Literacy and the Classroom." New Horizons for Learning. Mar. 2005. 29 Feb. 2008
Along with the advent of computer era, the definition of “literacy” somehow outdated. We need to reconsider what it means to be literate in the technological age. The literacy is quickly being redefined due to emerging technology. With new technologies, educators are dealing with “new literacy.” Multimedia is altering the way society communicates in the real world, as well as the speed of changing classroom communication is overwhelming. Both teachers and students are expected to be able to navigate and communicate through new media such as hypermedia. For example, hypermedia reading is different from printing reading. The use of internet changes the way students read and collect information, and accordingly, it will change the way students write.
Traditionally, writers use images to support their writing. Gunther Kress pointed out a shift in science textbooks that use more illustrations to support text explanations instead of using text to supports visual explanations. Kress argues that images hold more meaning than text. However, this visual literacy conveyed by internet is overwhelming. “As students learn to decode hypermedia, they are also learning how to decode advertising.” On the other hand, advertisers know how to reach youngsters far better than educators. Through those pop-up ads, students conceive the view of the world. Their thoughts about the society and their identity to the communities were influenced more than in the classroom. Therefore, new literacy education “should prepare students at [their] young age for the onslaught of advertising they will be exposed to during their lifetime”. They need to be trained to have the capability to evaluate the advertising messages. This is the concept of integrating visual literacy instruction into classroom curriculum to better prepare students for the constantly changing syberworld that they encounter in most of their spare time.
There are many ways of integrating multimedia curriculum into the classroom. The method of learning by design is based on the concept that knowledge is constructed rather than processed from information received from a multimedia source. The approach of learning by design motivates students to learn by working on a real world project. For example, teachers design a project for students to work together or individually to create the story movie where they can convey their own message into their movie. Through the role playing of the producer rather than the consumer of information, students get the better perception how hypermedia is displayed on the internet.
In the conclusion, Riesland brought up an issue “our modern technology-driven society demands a level of communication that remains largely unaddressed in the classroom.” Isn’t this concerned that the new literacy teaching should be seriously considered the current literacy demands of new technologies?