Thursday, November 09, 2006

Reflection on our discussion Tuesday

Early on in our time at Mitch's we talked about visual communication and productive citizenship, in relation to the Duffelmeyer & Ellertson piece. I don't remember the details of our conversation, but it relates to what Adam and I both addressed in our podcasts. While Ellertson teaches basic skills in visual communication production using Flash, the more important aspect of his teaching is the visual literacy that it instills in the students. They may or may not spend much time creating highly visual pieces of communication (I think that for most people email, with possibly some pictures as attachments, will persist with little significant change for quite a while), but the enhanced visual literacy will be very important. Note, for example, the Vernon Robinson TV ads during this past (thankfully) election cycle. Ellertson's assignments help his students see how unrepresentative a selection of images can be. Take Robinson's images of purportedly illegal immigrants burning the American flag and making obscene gestures. How many viewers will take those as representative of immigrants or Hispanics in general, not recognizing the careful selection and arrangement of images from among probably thousands of possibilities? Quite a few, unfortunately. DeVoss and Selfe discuss on p. 439 the "[s]hifting notions of literate citizenship" that complicate teaching with technology in K-12 classrooms. The increasing visual nature of our culture, discussed in many of our readings, necessitates that we prioritize the teaching of visual communication as early in a child's education as possible, which, of course, requires more than a couple hours a week in a shared computer lab or an assigned time at a common classroom computer. Will there be a time when computer classrooms will be the norm? Alas, probably only when it's seen as contributing to productive citizenship, in terms of economic productivity, rather than just plain citizenship.

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