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Oct 04, 2010

Visual Literacy: What do you see?

Visual imagery can be used in many disciplines not only to increase students’ content knowledge, but also to build their visual and media literacy skills.
The term “Visual Literacy” was first coined in 1969 by John Debes, who offered the following definition: “Visual Literacy refers to a group of vision-competencies a human being can develop by seeing and at the same time having and integrating other sensory experiences.”   In his 1997 article “Thoughts on Visual Literacy,” Philip Yenawine describes visual literacy as “the ability to find meaning in imagery” involving “simple identification (naming what one sees) to complex interpretation on contextual, metaphoric and philosophical levels.”

Strategies for Analyzing Visual Images: questions for your students

1.     Examine the image holistically
        What does it represent? What is your initial reaction? Does it convey a message?
2.     Consider the nature of the image
        Is this a professional portrait or a candid press shot? 
        Was this video taken at a prepared ceremony or a spontaneous event?
        Were people, images, or objects deliberately posed to make a statement?
3.     Examine perspective
        Is the subject depicted n close-up or at a distance?
        Does the subject appear in control of the environment or does the background clash or dominate the frame?
4.     Analyze contrasts and contexts
        Is the background supportive, neutral, or hostile to the subject?
        Does the image depict conflict or harmony?
5.     Examine poses and body language of human figures
        How are human figures depicted? What emotion do they seem to express?
6.     Look for bias
        Do you sense the photographers were trying to manipulate the people or events depicted, casting them in either a favorable or negative light?
7.     Consider the larger context
        Does the image offer a fair representation of a larger event or an isolated exception?
8.     Review the image for possible manipulation
        Could camera angles or retouching have altered what appears to be a record of actual events?
9.     Consider the story the image seems to tell
        What is the thesis of this image? What visual details or symbols help tell the story?
Source:  (accessed October 4, 2010)

General Strategies for Using Video

  1. Preview the entire video to judge appropriateness and length and to create in-class and homework assignments.
  2. Discuss the film in advance of the students’ viewing it; explain your rationale for viewing it and the connections to your learning objectives.
  3. Provide guiding questions.
  4. Pair the video with a reading assignment.
  5. Stop the video and conduct a short discussion or ask for predictions of outcomes.
  6. Conduct a follow-up discussion or activity: hold class or group discussion, assign and share a writing activity, ask students to create their own video as a response using their cell phones and cameras.          


  • Critical Reading, “The Sundance Reader” (4th Ed, 2006) Mark Connelly, Thomson/Wadsworth. Chapter 3, page 50.
  • Davis, Barbara. Tools for Teaching. 2nd Ed. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass, 2009.
  • What is Visual Literacy? International Visual Literacy Association. (accessed October 4, 2010)
  • Yenawine, P. (1997) Thoughts on visual literacy, in J Flood, SB Heath, and D Lapp (Eds) Handbook of research on teaching literacy through the communicative and visual arts.
To follow up on any of these ideas, please contact me at This Weekly Teaching Note was adapted from a contribution to the Teaching and Learning Writing Consortium sponsored by Western Kentucky University.
Taimi Olsen, Ph. D.
Assistant Director, Tennessee Teaching and Learning Center
University of Tennessee, Knoxville

Author: francine_glazer

Sep 28, 2010

Brief Hybrids – A Small Step Towards Integrating Technology

Brief Hybrid activities allow you to test out a new technology by integrating it into your regular teaching in a thoughtful, strategic way that does not commit your whole course to this new technology.

What is a Brief Hybrid (BH)?

A "Brief Hybrid" (BH) is an activity of approximately 15-20 minutes intended to help a group of people produce or learn how to do something useful. In its simplest form, a BH allows you to introduce a concept, try out a technological teaching tool, actively engage your learners as they process the experience, and point participants to additional resources, all within a short period of time. 

Brief Hybrids come in different ‘flavors’ depending on audience and purpose. Whoever your audience, design it with attention to and specifying: learning outcomes, preparation, interaction, follow-up, and timing. A BH typically includes the following components:

  • Plan – with guidelines for instructors and students; usually located on a web page;
  • Interaction – activities involving all students and instructors; 
  • eClip - Web-accessible media clips (video, narrated PowerPoint, etc.) that last no more than 5 minutes in total;
  • Other Resources - Web-accessible information or files, printable handouts, reading assignments, etc.; and
  • Follow-up - next steps, feedback options, additional resources for those students who wish to learn more.
Sound complex or long? Actually, you should be able to run through these steps in pretty quick order for any topic that you are familiar with (45-75 minutes for a simple version).

How to Create a Brief Hybrid:

  1. Select a Focus - Identify a challenging topic or instructional bottleneck, critical concepts that continually prove difficult to get across, but are fundamental to a learner’s understanding. Pick something that is worth the time it takes to build a brief hybrid module – and is likely to be something that you will use again.
  2. Design & Plan your BH – take into consideration length of time required for the BH, audience, useful combinations of media & face-to-face interactions, appropriate technology tool, short handouts, and distribution strategies.
  3. Prepare to Build your BH – Gather equipment, resources and ‘access accounts’ needed to build a BH. Equipment - Computer/Laptop, Headset w/microphone, camcorder (e.g. Flip Video) and/or digital camera (for recording & uploading video, photos, sound, etc.). Software – Internet browser, PowerPoint, Jing. Online Account Access for Google Apps, YouTube, Flickr, etc.
  4. Develop or Locate an eClip – eClips are excellent ways to introduce new techniques, topics or technologies, or to provide guided explorations of concepts, ideas, or instructional bottlenecks. All benefit from a concise, clear and logical presentation of key points, vivid images and illustrations, accessible text and supporting audio and, where appropriate, posing questions that guide reflection and solidify learning. Producing eClips provides a way of ensuring these fit into a specific time-frame (generally 2-5 minutes) and are preserved in multi-media formats that can be readily accessible in the future. There are three key ways to develop eClips that can be used in your BH: Find Relevant eClips on the web, Create Narrated PowerPoint eClips (using a tool like Jing), or Producing Video eClips (using Flip Video cameras, for example).
  5. Design Your Inter-Activity – Interaction is a central component of a Brief Hybrid. Building in opportunities for participants to interact with the ideas, facilitators, and each other adds richness to the experience that helps them work with the concepts and make the information their own. Whether discussing application of the ideas and/or skills presented, or having the chance to ask or answer questions, the interactive opportunities allow participants to integrate the new material into their own framework of understanding. The challenge is to pick something that can quickly fit into your brief time period and flow naturally from and/or into your eClip(s). You may even create a space inside your eClip for this activity (or create a 2 part eClip) to facilitate interaction.  Some examples of inter-activities you might consider including are: Brainstorming, Think-Pair-Share, Critical Incidents, Role Plays, Small Group Discussions, etc. 
  6. Identify and Organize Resources for your BH – Think about all the resources you will refer to during the BH (websites, documents, diagrams and other useful text, references, examples). Think also about references you used and resources you want to direct BH students to. Gather all links and documents together in one place. 
  7. Creating a “Homebase Webpage” for your BH – A “Homebase Webpage” that can serve as an entry page for your BH will contain all the main links that you will need to conduct your Brief Hybrid. Use Google Docs to create a simple webpage that you can make public.
  8. Do a Practice Run and Rethink your BH – Try this out yourself, with a colleague, or with your students. Pay attention to how it works and look for feedback so that you can tweak and improve it.

Once you create your first BH, doing the next one is not only easier, it’s quicker since you can build off of what you did before. Even better, if you have picked your focus well, you now have a module that you can use the next time you teach this topic, or that you can post online and integrate into an online or hybrid version of your course. Planning your next Brief Hybrid allows you to reflect on the first one - assessing its effectiveness, considering how to improve it, and possibly sharing it with others.

References and Resources

Mullinix, B.B. (2009). Using Jing.  Also see e-clip.  Jing software (free download). 
TLT Group - Gilbert, S.W. (2008). Brief Hybrids  See accompanying web page and e-clip
To follow up on any of these ideas, please contact me at This Weekly Teaching Note was adapted from a contribution to the Teaching and Learning Writing Consortium sponsored by Western Kentucky University.

Bonnie B. Mullinix, Ed.D.

Senior Consultant, Faculty and Educational Development

Teaching, Learning and Technology Group (TLT Group)

Author: francine_glazer

Sep 19, 2010

Newsletter Format for a Course Syllabus

In an attempt to help first year students / freshman and be sensitive to the cultural impact of both international students and students leaving a smaller town to venture into the ‘big city,’ I have adapted my approach to the ‘course outline.’ I have used a newsletter format in order to begin the semester on a more informal but informative note.

This idea comes about from experiential learning and a self-examination of what it is like to be a learner who is concerned about expectations and pathways to success. Consequently I began to consider what my students don’t know but what would be helpful. I address areas of culturally different expectations such as:
·       academic integrity
·       expectations of time spent on coursework
·       earned grades (as opposed to ‘given’ grades)
·       the difference between critical thinking and memorization
·       the type of relationship I expect with my students
See an example of a course newletter.


This Weekly Teaching Note was adapted from a contribution to the Teaching and Learning Writing Consortium sponsored by Western Kentucky University.


Emma Bourassa
Instructor, ESL Department
Thompson Rivers University

Author: francine_glazer

Sep 13, 2010

Setting the Tone for Your Class: Guiding Students toward Effective Study Strategies

Use class time during the first week of the term to provide students with guidelines and suggestions for successful study strategies. Examples of study discussion topics included the following:

  • How to take notes effectively while reading the required text or during class meetings;
  • The importance of supplementing bullet headings in class Power Point slides with additional information provided during class or found in relevant assigned readings;
  • How to form an effective study group -- rules for cooperation (focus on study, not socializing, quizzing one another, comparing notes from lecture, reading, peer review, etc.);
  • How to prepare for exams. Karpicke, Butler, & Roedgier (2009) report that students hold false beliefs about the effectiveness of various study strategies. Many students believe that reading the chapter several times is a good study strategy, but in actuality, this strategy is ineffective. Students will make better use of their study time if they use it for more effective study activities such as developing and answering questions they can expect to see on the exam, writing paraphrases of concepts in their own words and checking these against the reading or to another student’s interpretation to ensure that the paraphrase captures the intended meaning correctly. Encourage students to use more effective strategies when they study.

Karpicke, J. D., Butler, A. C., & Roediger, III, H. L. (2009). Metacognitive strategies in student learning: Do students practice retrieval when they study on their own? Memory, 17, 471-479.


This Weekly Teaching Note was adapted from a contribution to the Teaching and Learning Writing Consortium sponsored by Western Kentucky University.


Claudia J. Stanny, Ph.D., Director
Center for University Teaching, Learning, and Assessment
University of West Florida 

Author: francine_glazer

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Kenneth R. Pugh (B.S. ‘82) Kenneth Pugh
Class of 1982
Profession: President and director of research at Haskins Laboratories
Michelle Hamin Michelle Hamin
Campus: Manhattan
Major: Life Sciences, B.S.
Class Of: 2015
Larissa Jean Larissa Jean
Campus: Old Westbury
Major: Life Sciences, B.S.
Class Of: 2014