Visual Literacy Initiative Provides Tools for Faculty to Engage Students During Remote Learning

January 20, 2021 | Events, UToday, Honors
By Staff

The Visual Literacy Initiative at The University of Toledo is providing faculty with tools to engage students during remote learning using visual techniques.

Faculty members are invited to three virtual workshops, presented by UToledo faculty and accessible via Webex: “Improving Visual Literacy” on Jan. 22, “Using Visual Literacy Modules as a Path to Student Engagement” on Feb. 12 and “Unconscious Drawing as a Tool for Creativity” on March 12.

The ability to read, comprehend and write visual language, visual literacy is important to all majors, with a wide range of practical applications including communicating information effectively.

“We designed this series of talks because visual literacy activities can build rapport with students and bolster their self-confidence and engagement in courses, which increases their learning and retention,” said Dr. Heidi Appel, dean of the Jesup Scott Honors College. “This boost to student success can happen in both online and face-to-face courses.”

Dr. Ashley Pryor, associate professor of humanities, will present “Improving Visual Literacy” from noon to 1 p.m. Friday, Jan. 22.

The event draws on the work of Viola Spolin, who in the 1930s created a series of theater games to help immigrant children acquire increased proficiency in English.

“Spolin’s games are easily adaptable to a remote teaching platform to foster a deeper sense of classroom community, collaborative learning, deep listening, enhanced verbal and nonverbal communication,” Pryor said.

Dan McInnis, assistant lecturer in the Jesup Scott Honors College, will present “Using Visual Literacy Modules as a Path to Student Engagement” from noon to 1 p.m. Friday, Feb. 12.

“I’ll introduce some of the tools I use in my Honors course: Ideas and Society,” McInnis said. “My sections focus on visual literacy and include modules about basic photographic literacy and using photographs to start conversations about race in America.”

Barbara Miner, professor and chair of the Department of Art, will present “Unconscious Drawing as a Tool for Creativity” from noon to 1 p.m. Friday, March 12.

“Help your students tap into a non-censored aspect of creativity,” Miner said. “We’ll lead the group through an example of an ‘Automatic Drawing’ technique in which we allow the ‘over-the-shoulder’ critic to relinquish control while our cells spark and result in a sort of dance across a page.”

As the ability to read, comprehend and write visual language, visual literacy is important to all majors. It can improve reading and designing schematics; visualizing problems and solutions as well as data; “reading” and diagnosing patients and interpreting clinical images; and communicating information effectively.

Supported, in part, by the generosity of Judith Herb and Betsy Brady, the Visual Literacy Initiative is a partnership between UToledo and the Toledo Museum of Art that provides UToledo faculty with flexible curriculum modules they can incorporate into their existing course offerings.


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