The Power of Visuals – how are you going to use them?

Posted: October 26, 2014 in Uncategorized


Imagine a world without images, without adverts or photographs,

A world with no diagrams or instructions from IKEA, books without covers devoid of drawings or beautiful illustrations

websites with just words and presentations with just bullet points…hang on a moment some people still do that!

I believe there are 3 types of people:

there are those who love using visuals and integrate them into their lessons daily

and there are those who understand and see the potential of visuals but may not be using them as often as they would like

and finally there are those who hated art at school, say they cannot draw and are wondering (why should they use images and) what use is this to me?

Over the next few minutes I would like to show you how I came to work with visuals

and Tell you how you can use visuals in your daily and professional life

We live in a visual world and we are literally surrounded by visuals, from the moment we wake up in the morning, view the icons on our phones and Facebook or Instagram images

and just like our students we watch videos to learn or entertain ourselves, and images help us choose our cereal and the products we buy

So why aren’t we all teaching with visuals?

Ancient man captured their stories and conquests on the walls of their caves

and as a child we all loved to draw So what changes as we get older? why do we stop drawing?

Why don’t we all draw now?

Our eyes dart across page when we research on the internet

Looking for recognisable symbols to catch our attention

We like to SEE images

our brains interpret them far easier

so AGAIN why aren’t we all teaching with visuals?

Think about your classroom, your office or home

What images do you use to inspire, ignite and inform?

Images guide us, help us to find what we are looking for,

They instruct us, map our ideas

Help us to interpret data

And, just as Music or smells can transport us back to a time a place or a person

So too can images remind us of time past

The senses are strong in aiding learning and memory

Yet it is the VISUAL SENSE that TRUMPS them ALL

And the real potential is when we combine the senses

just as Text and image work better together

so too does the Voice with visuals

and music and Photography

And this intrigues me – the power a visual has to help us to remember

(And in case you are wondering, each visual in this presentation serves to remind me what to say)

I remember my first Learning 2 conference 3 years ago in Shanghai

When Jabiz encouraged us to develop our PLN through Twitter

Then in Beijing when Ben Sheridan got lost on the metro in Japan

And Dana Watts expanded our ideas about using iPads in education

But do we remember the details of these and other talks months or years on?

I have been taking visual notes for several years now

From my humble beginnings on penultimate as a Tech mentor to animated Brushes drawings as an ADE And now using Adobe ideas

Last year Jeff at Learning 2 Singapore asked me to capture the L2 Talks through visual note taking

I had not appreciated how difficult taking notes live could be!

See for all you cynics and drawing phobics out there the difficult part it is not actually the drawing

It is the thinking, the metacognition,

and it is this skill that we should be teaching our students – to listen and synchronise our thinking in order to communicate this to other

How could you use this with your students, or yourself?

Wouldn’t meeting minutes be more engaging and easier to revisit and remember if they looked like this? Or the steps in a unit plan or the details of a book?

I was rubbish at taking notes at university

And terrible at remembering facts and figures at school

Yet now I can capture my thoughts visually to help me remember and to communicate my ideas to others

On my blog I capture visual notes alongside my weekly posts to help me synchronise my thoughts and to share these ideas with others

these images help to show the message I want to share

I have been banging on about the versatility of Art to deaf ears for over 20 years

But now I hope now you can all hear me:

Visuals are crucial for memory and understanding

I understand you may not remember much of what I have said

And I would like you to take away this:

VISUALS HELP US TO REMEMBER and they help to DOCUMENT our Learning

So I would like to leave you with a Challenge:

document your notes more visually, use a simple drawing or note taking app on the iPad such as Adobe Ideas or Paper 53 just like Shaun Kirkwood did last year and share them on Twitter using the hashtag L2visualnotes

So that everyone can benefit from your learning 2

The Power of Visuals: how are you going to use them?





  1. Clint Hamada says:

    Is this where I admit I was too busy dealing with late arrivals at the conference to actually see your talk in person? I guess this is the next best thing but I do wish I was there to see you up on stage. I’ve been told it was pretty good. 🙂

    I guess I’ll just have to wait for the release of the YouTube version!

  2. Nicki Hambleton says:

    That’s ok Clint, I totally understand! I like that I could do this and have viewers focus on the images as I talk rather than me! It was kind of cool to see some of my images on a giant screen though! Keeping my fingers crossed that the videographer focused on the screen and not me! Thanks as always for your positivity and support along the way. I have loved this unit and yet, even though most people think it is the easiest for me it has pushed me further than I could have imagined! Roll on the next one and I am already starting to think about the final assignment for Course 5!

  3. Dianne McKenzie says:

    This is fabulous!

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