“I Think Therefore I AM”

As I look back through the wealth of readings, videos, blogs, wikis and the abundance of posts, I can hardly believe how far this journey has taken me.  Upon reading Walter Ong’s book, “Orality and Literacy”, I remember thinking, “what does this all mean?” and “how in the world am I going to make connections to the ideas presented?”

As I read, and read… and read some more, I was astonished to how much it made me think about our current culture and how it lead the participants of ETEC540 in so many different directions.  Just as written text has changed the way in which we think about literacy, my thoughts and ideas have also been transformed throughout our time together in ETEC540.  The world of literacy has “given [me] a basis for constructing meaning and evaluating [my] own experiences in terms of it” (Ong, 1982, p.270).  Just as Danielle Dubien implies in the forum Papyrus to Cyberspace, “experience and new perspectives enrich and refine what we learn initially in a course or from a book”. Our knowledge is built upon connections and although we may be able to search for most anything at any minute, it most certainly does not build upon who we are as learners, citizens or workers.

As we examined orality and literacy, I began to understand how the digital culture allowed us to express ourselves in multiple ways.  Just as Bolter suggests, “digital media is refashioning the printed book” (Bolter, 2001, p3).  Throughout the duration of the course, I have been able to interact with various types of media and learn about scholarly theories on literacy. Digital media has allowed me to do this at my own pace while leading myself in the direction that suits my specific interests and research needs. Nelson views writing as a network and an “ongoing system of interconnecting documents” (Bolter, p34), which connects to my own experiences with the remediation of print and how it has helped me to extended my ability to search and understand multiple viewpoints.

In the forum, Mechanization: Before and after, Eric Gearey states that he’s “never done ANYTHING in [his] life and thought: perfect – it’s done. Everything could use a little touch-up here and there.”  To me, this is our constant state of thinking.  We are continually learning and revamping our beliefs and adding to our current connections.  In the final Chapters of Bolter’s book, “Writing Space: Computers, Hypertext and the Remediation of Print”, he quotes Descartes claim, “I think therefore I am” which summed up the premise of this course for me.  The idea of self and the very act of thinking is connected to all forms of literacy.  Thinking is literacy!

Throughout the course, I have been able to weave many webs and I’ve had many “AHA” moments.  At the beginning of each paper, I was unsure of where it would lead me, but as I researched I found myself deep in thought and each reading would bring a new connection or lead me in another direction.  The course itself is set up brilliantly and the connections are plentiful.


Bolter, Jay David. (2001). Writing space: Computers, hypertext, and the remediation of print [2nd edition]. Mahwah, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum.

Ong, Walter. (1982.) Orality and literacy: The technologizing of the word. London: Methuen.

Posted in Making Connections, Technology, Text | 1 Comment


The course has offered some great learning experiences working with WebCT, as well as, the Weblog and Wiki.

Completing the activities where we had to contribute to the Wiki was something that was consistent throughout the course. It directly related to the modules we were completing. Many of us found it frustrating not having the same organization we had in the forum, which we were all used to, having taken a couple of courses already. But, I think we all found our footing in relation to going through the Weblog. Also, getting encouragement from our professors helped. They made it known that it was not possible to go through all the postings, but encouraged us to pick the ones that peeked our interests. This helped me, and made me feel more at ease and less anxious about working within the three different platforms.

Our course revolved around literacy. When the question came up on whether the definition should be changed to include digital literacy (from the posts that I read) we agreed that our changing world and view on literacy must be reflected in its definition. Something that many people connected with within this topic was a post Lynnette made in the forum (Digital Literacy and Multiliteracies – Section A) about support for teachers and professional development, especially when it comes to older teachers who are not as adept with technology. It seems to be that no matter which school we are teaching at or which province we are in there are always teachers that seem to not have the will to learn about what is such a major part of their students’ lives.

This has been a very insightful course, with great people and professors. Wishing everyone all the best for the Holiday Season! We made it!

Milena 🙂

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The best part about this course is the learning and sharing with classmates on their experiences and knowledge. I remember one story a classmate shared about a friend who is afraid her culture is disappearing and is actively trying to preserve it through writing a book. That story made me think about the rapid change that is happening in literacy. We are moving quickly toward the direction of making printed text obsolete and instead toward a completely digital age. What does this mean for the part of our heritage that is in print? The web keep us connected but at the same time creates specialized niches and interest groups. And what about for those who do not have regular access to the web. If digital literacy is what we want to educate then equal access and removing barriers to learning would be key. These are some questions and ideas I am interested in carrying forward in my studies in further courses.

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Multiliteracies: More easily said than done

I was unable to develop the topic I chose for Commentary 1 on the Deaf community in Mexico due to lack of time for furthering my research. I hope to do so in the future. Instead, I decided to link  the changing space of text and multiliteracies to some research I carried out once regarding schema theory and social context. I feel there is a place for this when designing a multiliteracy approach.

Final Project -A.delPaso ETEC 540

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Ken’s Connections

Wow, where did this term go?  To begin this post I must say that there are a few things that really impressed me with this course:

  • Quality of the notes and support materials in the modules
  • Selection of readings and course texts
  • Feedback, openness and responsiveness of our instructors, Jeff Miller & Teresa Dobson
  • Engaging discourse in forums, weblog and the quality of materials produced by my peers.

As general comments to the course…While many were concerned (myself included) with the three spaces for participating (forums, wiki, weblog) and the large cohort it turned out to be a great experience.  Through reassurance from our instructors and understanding from each other I think that we gained a great deal by having the two groups together.  Once we established a rhythm and became used to navigating the spaces it became apparent that the many voices, ideas, and resources were a great advantage.

While there were many interesting readings and conversations here are a few topics that stood out to me….So, in the spirit of Rip.Mix.Feed here is a short video to show some topics that stood out.  Unfortunately to include all of the great ideas and work done in this course would make the video too long.


The forum postings, wiki, and weblog interconnected to provide a rich experience that rivals any of the MET courses that I have taken thus far (now concluding my MET experience)!  Thank you to my peers and instructors for providing such a detailed and engaging learning experience.


Image Sources for video:

Picture 1: https://www.vista.ubc.ca/webct/urw/tp0.lc5116011/cobaltMainFrame.dowebct

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Putting it All Together

1. I would love to see a concept map-type cloud of all of the tags we’ve created. The links could show links between the tags, and the nodes could contain links to the posts with those tags. This would be a great way of showing how everything we’ve blogged about is connected. I’ve done some research to see if anything free and easy exists that will do this, but I could find nothing. It would obviously take too much time to do this manually, too.

2. When I read the blogs, I really enjoyed seeing how a lot of people played around with the whole idea of remediation and incorporated it into their posts. There were images, there were videos, and RSS feeds embedded into the blog posts. Not only that, but many posts went outside of the blog to expand the remediation beyond the confines of what any one technology could do, and others connected our posts together.

Chris McKenzie

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Fairy Tales for Twentysomethings

Sleeping Beauty was lying in bed checking Facebook from her phone, just feeling so completely alone in her depression. Then she came across a post from an acquaintance about how sad he was, it was a darkness that made him feel like nobody could ever understand how he felt. “Is there anyone else who feels this way?” he asked.

She felt a sense of relief wash over her, a little bit of joy, and thought, At least I’m not so sad I wrote about it on Facebook.

This morning, a librarian friend of mine tweeted this. I thought it was worth sharing. It’s worth a few laughs, but it’s also a bit apropos, isn’t it? Old tales shortened, updated, and twisted to suit modern readers. A not of caution, though: some of the humour / language has a bit of an edge some might not like.


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Strange New World


Jasper Fforde visits the setting for The Last Dragonslayer

Strange New World:
Jasper Fforde and Proto-Enhanced eBooks in the Intermediate Classroom

by Kyle Stooshnov

Strange New World: Bonus Paragraph!

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A Storify of some recent rainbows. Enjoy!

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Can You See what I Mean?

The Importance of Teaching Visual Literacy Skills

Visual content is on the rise in print and in digital media (Bolter, 2001). This statement was true in 2001 and still is, what with the increasing use of technology around the world making it easier than ever to transmit visual information. While some might think that literacy will suffer as a result of this trend, the combination of words and text can transmit more information than text alone (Bolter, 2001). However, not everyone on the receiving end is fully equipped to interpret the content. This post aims (1) to show that students lack visual literacy skills and that it is up to teachers to fill the gap and (2) to provide methods for developing visual literacy skills in a variety of contexts.

To begin, visual literacy can be loosely defined as the ability to interpret, analyze, design and create visual content, in combination or not with text (Avgerinou, 2001; Brumberger, 2011; Coleman, 2010). Some components of visual literacy are visual reasoning, visual discrimination, visual association, knowledge of visual vocabulary, knowledge of visual conventions, and interpretation of visual jokes and metaphors (Avgerinou, 2011; Coleman, 2010).

Some of the goals of visual literacy education that have been listed in the literature are to develop comprehension of visual content in diagrams, graphs, and other formats; to detect visual misrepresentation; to appreciate visual aesthetics; and to use and create visuals for intentional communicative purposes (Avgerinous, 2011; Messaris, 1994, as cited in Newfield, 2011).

There are many valid reasons for teaching visual literacy skills. For example, research has shown that development of these skills leads to stronger abilities in creativity, innovation, communication, and flexibility and fluency of thought (Dake, 2007). Additionally, visual information is better retained in the memory than text or speech, according to the pictorial superiority effect (Branch & Bloom, 1995; Haber & Myers, 1982; Paivio, 1983; all references as cited in Avgerinou, 2011). In turn, the combination of text and visual information is retained better than words or visuals alone (Haber & Myers, 1982 as cited in Avgerinou, 2011).

Unfortunately, exposure to images alone is not sufficient for students to learn to be visually literate; they need guidance (Brumberger, 2011). This view is in strong contrast to that of the “digital natives” argument whereby students are thought to learn visual literacy by simply seeing a vast amount of online pictures. To verify the validity of this claim, Brumberger used a survey to determine the visual literacy skill level of 485 undergraduates in writing courses at Virginia Tech. Despite having extensive exposure to images online and on television, students were found to have difficulty extracting factual information from images and determining whether they had been altered. The general conclusion was that the students had poor visual literacy skills despite having seen great amounts of visual content. To explain this finding, Brumberger wrote “Living in an image-rich world…does not mean students…naturally possess sophisticated visual literacy skills, just as continually listening to an iPod does not teach a person to critically analyze or create music” (Felton, 2008 as cited in Brumberger, 2011, p. 45).” Clearly, the “digital natives” argument is invalid.

Further, the students involved in this research are more privileged than those of their age in the general population, and therefore likely have greater access to technology. This means that visual literacy skills of young adults in general may be even lower than the results indicate in this research.

Avgerinou, (2011) stated that yet another reason for visual literacy education is the lack of objective interpretation of images. That is, people tend to lend more credibility to images than is warranted, and they filter images such that they see what they expect. This effect is worse in children and adolescents, who are emotionally influenced by colour and imagery in visuals, rather than factual information.

How to Improve Visual Literacy Education

Having discussed the definition, justification and benefits of teaching visual literacy skills, the next step is to describe methods for introducing these skills in the classroom. Teacher training is one solution that will be examined immediately. Another solution is the use of visual literacy strategies, which will be discussed further below.

According to Coleman (2010) pre-service training for teachers in visual literacy must be developed because images are often misused in instruction. Coleman reported that when teachers referred to images during lessons, it was in a cursory fashion; they would not guide students in examining the graphs or illustrations in such a way as to interpret their contents. When they did use images in more pedagogically-minded ways, it was only with graphs that they felt comfortable and competent using, such as Venn diagrams (Coleman, 2010). Conversely, teachers with more experience were more likely to use graphs in complex ways.

Visual literacy education should not be learned on the job, but rather before entering the profession. Visual literacy training should become a standard part of pre-service teacher training. In addition, Peeck (1993, as cited in Coleman, 2010) recommends that instructions be provided in books for specific use of the illustrations. Additionally, he suggests that students be asked to analyse the visuals with scrutiny, to describe the images in summaries and to explain the relationship between the images and the text.  More importantly, teachers need to learn how to develop students’ meta-cognitive skills for analysing visuals. Instructional strategies include modelling, giving think-aloud presentations, scaffolding, reciprocal teaching, and providing immediate feedback (Coleman, 2010).

Besides a lack of teacher training in visual literacy, another problem with image use in education is the time needed to prepare images and how to interpret them. The diagrams that teachers used the most were those found in books that they used in their instruction. The reason is most likely that these illustrations involved the least amount of preparation. To encourage teachers to use images properly and more often, creators of instructional materials could include explanations and activities for analysing the visual content used therein.

There are a variety of teaching strategies that teachers can use to develop their students’ visual literacy. Starting here, approaches to visual literacy will be described and accompanied by exercises that can bbe practiced immediately.

According to Solso, (1994 as cited in Dake, 2007) one approach to observation is that when a person first looks at something, be it a landscape or a painting, she makes broad scans, forming a rough image in her mind. Then she starts to pick up details by focusing on specific areas of the object under observation. When a student is given instructions for directing her gaze, she will focus on certain areas in more detail than others.

Training in visual literacy influences how people interpret visual information. Eye tracking experiments compared scan paths of inexperienced (naïve) and experienced art viewers looking at abstract art.  The naïve subjects made quick scans of details. Meanwhile, the experienced viewers made more local and global scans which allowed them to examine details and zoom out to place them in context (Dake, 2007). Given that more mental processing is going on for the experienced viewer, the visual analysis takes longer than for the naïve viewer. Indeed, “A visually literate brain that receives more information has more with which to work” (Dake, 2007, p. 12).

Thus, it is suggested that when an image is introduced in a course, the students be instructed to scan the image with broad sweeps. Then, they should have their gaze directed toward relevant details. They should “zoom out” once again, as necessary.


Click on the link below and a map will open. Keep this window open on one side of your screen and allow the map to fill the other half. View the image by making broad scans and detailed ones to obtain information about the location. Then, slowly zoom out to learn more.


Hint: The coordinates of this location are: 69.1977° N, 135.0220° W and, for perspective, the coordinates of Vancouver are: 49.2505° N, 123.1119° W


Jin and Boling (2010) argue that how visuals are used is just as important as what information they contain. More to the point, they found evidence that visuals can hurt or help learning depending on how they are used because the intended meaning is not always that which is actually conveyed. The authors pursued this idea further by having an instructional designer explain her reasons for using eight different images in an e-learning course. Jin and Boling then had 29 undergraduate students in a convenience sample answer open-ended questions where they were asked to determine the functional purpose of each image.

The authors used a classification system devised by Clark and Lyons (2010, as cited in Jin & Boling, 2010) to categorize the images according to the way they support learning: psychological (support attention; activate or build prior knowledge), cognitive (minimize cognitive load; build mental models, support transfer of learning), and affective (support motivation).

The students’ answers were compiled and a percentage of responses congruent with the designer’s intention was assigned to each image. Only four of the images were found to be correctly interpreted by students, but the percentage values varied from 38 – 65 %.

Instructional designers can increase the relevance and correct use and interpretation of the images they use by learning about the target learners, by having a specific purpose for including each image, by making the use of the images explicit and by writing captions for their images, where this is useful to do.


Select an image you’ve used in a recent lesson. Ask yourself what your reasons were for using it. What message was it meant to convey? What was its role in supporting learning? You may want to ask your students for their perspectives on these matters for comparative purposes.


O’Neil (2011) provides explanations of the impact of illustrations in picture books. She describes the use of design elements like line, colour, composition, setting, character, and cultural context. She also explains a few functions served by the combination of images and text.  For example, some images serve a descriptive purpose by providing a more detailed depiction of the story than is conveyed by the text. O’Neil outlines activities designed for young children that help them to analyze the images and how they’re used in texts. Even though the article is directed at teachers of young children, the theory is relevant for teaching visual literacy at all levels and the activities can be adapted for older students.


Read Ben’s New Friend http://storytimeforme.com/player/?id=ben1&fs=0

Considering the explanation above, how would you present this story to young children in a class or at home?


Newfield (2011) analyses worksheets in two books used for in visual literacy and media education courses. The goal was to educate students so that they could better interpret the sources of information in their environment that were being increasingly based on visual content.   These worksheets were published for use in South African schools and relate very strongly to its history. She offers suggestions for developing critical visual literacy, which involves questioning the context, biases, credibility, historical accuracy, breadth, editorial choices, relevance to current society, perspective taken on a topic and other characteristics of illustrations used for instruction. Because of the specificity of the topics covered in these worksheets, the content will not be discussed. Rather, the interest lies in highlighting this reference as a model of how to analyse course content to determine how well it can be used to develop visual literacy, and how it can be improved.


Similar to the exercise above, how would you use the editorial cartoons in a high school or university course? How would you explain them to your teenage children? http://www.theglobeandmail.com/commentary/


Extra resources

Site of International Visual Literacy Association http://www.ivla.org/

Resource page of visual-literacy.org http://www.visual-literacy.org/pages/documents.htm

Resources for teaching visual literacy in levels K-8 http://k-8visual.info/

An article published by Educause titled Visual Literacy in Higher Education http://net.educause.edu/ir/library/pdf/eli4001.pdf

Resources for teaching visual literacy in undergraduate humanities courses http://www.humanities.umd.edu/vislit/index.php

Site of Information is Beautiful, containing visual data http://www.informationisbeautiful.net/

TED talk by David McCandless showing innovative ways of presenting data visually http://www.ted.com/talks/david_mccandless_the_beauty_of_data_visualization.html



 Avgerinou, M. D. (2011). Toward a cohesive theory of visual literacy.  Journal of Visual Literacy, 30(2), 1-19. Retrieved from: http://www.cameron.edu/jvl/

Bolter, J. D. (2001). Writing space:  Computers, hypertext, and the remediation of print. (2nd ed.). New York, NY: Routledge.

Brumberger, E. (2011). Visual literacy and the digital native: An examination of the millennial learner. Journal of Visual Literacy, 30(1), 19-46. Retrieved from: http://www.cameron.edu/jvl/

Coleman, J. (2010). Elementary teachers’ instructional practices involving graphical representations. Journal of Visual Literacy, 29(2), 198-222. Retrieved from: http://www.cameron.edu/jvl/

Dake, D. M. (2007). A natural visual mind: The art and science of visual literacy. Journal of Visual Literacy, 21(1), 7-28. Retrieved from: http://www.cameron.edu/jvl/

Jin, S. & Boling, E. (2010). Instructional designer’s intentions and learners’ perceptions of the instructional: Functions of visuals in an e-learning context. Journal of Visual Literacy, 29(2), 143-166. Retrieved from: http://www.cameron.edu/jvl/

Newfield, D. (2011). From visual literacy to critical visual literacy: An analysis of educational materials. English Teaching: Practice and Critique, 10(1), 81-94. Retrieved from: http://education.waikato.ac.nz/research/files/etpc/files/2011v10n1art5.pdf

O’Neil, K. E. (2011). Reading pictures: Developing visual literacy for greater comprehension. The Reading Teacher, 65(3), 214–223. DOI:10.1002/TRTR.01026

Pettersson, R. (2007). Visual literacy in message design. Journal of Visual Literacy, 27(1), 61-90. Retrieved from: http://www.cameron.edu/jvl/

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