New Visual Social Media for the Higher Education Classroom

New Visual Social Media for the Higher Education Classroom

Julie A. Delello, Rochell R. McWhorter
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-4666-8614-4.ch098
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This chapter examines how next-generation visual social platforms motivate students to capture authentic evidence of their learning and achievements, publish digital artifacts, and share content across visual social media. Educators are facing the immediate task of integrating social media into their current practice to meet the needs of the twenty-first century learner. Using a case study, this chapter highlights through empirical work how nascent visual social media platforms such as Pinterest are being utilized in the college classroom and concludes with projections on ways visual networking platforms will transform traditional models of education.
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Visual Literacy In The 21St Century

Communicating with visual images is not new. From early cave dwellers to present day civilization, history has shown that people use images to communicate ideas. If one wants to recognize the influence of visual images, one would look no farther than Michelangelo’s Biblical representations painted between 1508 and 1512 upon the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel. “For Michelangelo, faith and creativity— liturgy and art—are inseparably linked by a shared power to transform the viewer” (Romaine, 2006, p. 23). According to the National Education Association (2001), Western civilization has become dependent upon visual culture, visual artifacts, and visual communication. Visual images are formed from pictures, maps, statues, illusions, diagrams, dreams, hallucinations, spectacles, ideas, and even memories (Mitchell, 1984). As children, many of our first images came in the form of symbols or picture representations in books. All of these visual imageries demonstrate the lived reality and cultural values of mankind.

The term visual literacy originated in 1969 from John Debes who defined the term as “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” (p. 27). Visual literacy, according to Gray (2008) is “the ability to both read and write visual information… to learn visually; to think and solve problems in the visual domain… as the information revolution evolves, [it will] become a requirement for success in business and in life” (para.10). Associated with visual literacy is visual communication and technology. Burmark (2002) defined visual literacy as “a person’s ability to interpret and create visual information…to understand images of all kinds and use them to communicate more effectively” (p. V). Technology, according to Jonassen, Peck, and Wilson (1999) refers to “the designs and environments that engage learners” (p. 12). In an interview, American film director Martin Scorsese responded that “Today, our society and our world are saturated with visual stimulation… to reach younger people at an earlier age…to shape their minds in a critical way; you really need to know how ideas and emotions are expressed visually” (Cruickshank, 2006, para. 6).

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