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Proceedings 2017, 1(9), 855;

The Imagistic Turn in Education: Opportunities and Constraints

MTA–BME Open Content Development Research Group, Budapest University of Technology and Economics, Magyar tudósok krt. 2., 1117 Budapest, Hungary
Presented at the International and Interdisciplinary Conference IMMAGINI? Image and Imagination between Representation, Communication, Education and Psychology, Brixen, Italy, 27–28 November 2017.
Published: 21 November 2017
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My talk consists of three parts. First, I present the urges and antecedents that are present in the current development of the concept of visuality and can affect education as a considerable development potential. Almost half a century ago something started in education, creating a new learning environment inside and outside the walls of schools by turning static images into dynamic ones. Putting the phenomenon into a conceptional frame, Multimedia Content Development has set new questions and new responses. Owing to the mobile communication tools, Comenius’ Orbis Pictus has become really visible everywhere and at all times in a physical as well as a theoretical-methodological sense, changing by this our learning environment. Recognizing these tendencies, in the second part of my talk, I will deal with what I call the new education dilemmas. The core of these is that e-learning, which shapes everyday learning environments by “ubiquitous computing”, more and more turns away from the traditional or dominant verbal communication, and searches for alternatives by means of which it can be more interesting and more effective for the users. Owing to this situation, serious challenges can be identified with respect to pedagogy. The spontaneous effects of the original human natural characteristics of visual thinking in learning can be considered as an important altering factor in the learning paradigm. The relevant philosophical framework has been there for almost half a century; by now, however, as a result of technological development, it is already generating innovation steps at the practical level. The third part of my talk points to the current search for ways and possibilities, offering not so many solutions, but rather specific examples of investigations and experiments. Instead of suggesting a rigid change of the paradigm I point to the perspective of simply the modalities becoming more complex. In teaching and learning, multimodality—as an attitude which is able to make learning more effective than ever before by means of applying images and signs and rendering the methods of communication significantly more complex—can probably be an important step made forward, leaving behind mechanical, and so rigid, didactical systems. In a modern pedagogical sense, it is highly interesting to examine the notion of modality in terms of teaching and learning in the new technological environment. In its everyday connotation, modality means manner; the speaker’s relation to the coverage of the scope of reality. Considering the special information and knowledge transmitting moments of education, modality means the imparter’s and the recipient’s relation to the content or its coverage of reality. With its earlier centuries-long dominance, the traditional linguistic modality hid the visual modality. Interestingly, the notion of multimodality first appeared in transportation, and so in communication as well, like a “specific method of transportation”, meaning a combined solution including several manners. In linguistic communication, multilingualism, too, means multimodality, and when we are referring to one of the great experiences of our era, i.e., the modality of sign language rich in visual and gestural elements, we are coming closer and closer to the realization that in today’s learning it is precisely multimodal communication that makes us able to transmit knowledge effectively, especially in the cases of disadvantaged groups. In the wake of the 20th century, “modern” learning materials have remained unchanged in terms of verbal and image communication, linear structure, written text dominance, and static image conveyance. Although electronic learning resources and multi-media e-learning representations include more dynamic (flash, podcast, video) transfers of content, the “logic” of building up learning materials has changed little—in fact, visual content is only a complement to verbal communication. But when it comes to community-based learning resource development, teacher training may offer outstandingly good conditions for visual learning.
Keywords: education; visual learning; multimodality; open content education; visual learning; multimodality; open content
This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited (CC BY 4.0).

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Benedek, A. The Imagistic Turn in Education: Opportunities and Constraints. Proceedings 2017, 1, 855.

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