Teaching Online Through Visual Storytelling

Concurrent Session 10

Brief Abstract

Teaching Online Through Visual Storytelling

Jose W. Diaz, Lorenza Smith, Jennifer Shloming

 

This study explores the use of visual storytelling in the online learning environment and the purposeful use of technology that would allow us to create a truly visual online learning experience.

Storytelling can be traced all the way back to our ancestors. They left us many stories that paint a vivid picture of everyday life of ancient times on cave walls, scrolls, and artifacts. These stories have been passed on from generations to generations. It’s historical data that transcends time.

Just like our ancestors we also are visual creatures. We watch our televisions to get the news, we use our mobile phones to find our way home and we look at street signs that tell us when it is safe to cross the street. We learn from reading books and we learn to read from looking at the words and pictures from a storybook.

The need to see, hear or tell stories is engraved in our human DNA. Storytelling has been an important method of sharing and interpreting human experiences. Visual storytelling is an effective educational tool because the learner becomes engaged through the images that tell the story. This is the fundamental reason we chose to use Adobe Spark. It’s flexibility of the virtual construction which allows the learner to connect diverse aspects of each module or unit to reconstruct his or her own version of history.

How then can we incorporate visual storytelling in the online learning environment?

 

 

 

Presenters

Prior to joining FIT, José worked at the Center for Teaching and Learning at Columbia University. Where he worked one-on-one with faculty and Learning designers to develop MOOCs (Massive Open Online Courses). José also worked with the video team and he helped film and edit videos. José has worked on several MOOCs like The Civil War and Reconstruction MOOC with Professor Eric Foner, Big Data in Education with Professor Ryan Baker, The Science of Learning: What every teacher should know with Professor Pearl Rock Kane, Corporate Finance with Professor Daniel Wolfenstein and many others. José currently holds the position of Manager of Online Learning at the Fashion Institute of Technology SUNY. Where he helps faculty develop their online courses and implement the purposeful use of technology in the online learning environment. José has a Bachelors in Business administration degree from Baruch College, CUNY in Computer Information Systems and an M.A. in Educational/Instructional Technology from Adelphi University. José is also an avid videographer, web developer, basketball enthusiast and enjoys working together with faculty one-on-one.

Extended Abstract

 

Teaching Online Through Visual Storytelling

Jose W. Diaz, Lorenza Smith, Jennifer Shloming

 

This study explores the use of visual storytelling in the online learning environment and the purposeful use of technology that would allow us to create a truly visual online learning experience.

Storytelling can be traced all the way back to our ancestors. They left us many stories that paint a vivid picture of everyday life of ancient times on cave walls, scrolls, and artifacts. These stories have been passed on from generations to generations. It’s historical data that transcends time.

Just like our ancestors we also are visual creatures. We watch our televisions to get the news, we use our mobile phones to find our way home and we look at street signs that tell us when it is safe to cross the street. We learn from reading books and we learn to read from looking at the words and pictures from a storybook.

The need to see, hear or tell stories is engraved in our human DNA. Storytelling has been an important method of sharing and interpreting human experiences. Visual storytelling is an effective educational tool because the learner becomes engaged through the images that tell the story. This is the fundamental reason we chose to use Adobe Spark. It’s flexibility of the virtual construction which allows the learner to connect diverse aspects of each module or unit to reconstruct his or her own version of history.

How then can we incorporate visual storytelling in the online learning environment?

We decided to incorporate visual storytelling on two online courses that were heavily dependent on visuals. The Fashion Institute of Technology (FIT) runs all of their online courses on the Blackboard Learning Management System (LMS). Blackboard’s limitation on creating a visually stimulating experience led us to find an alternative tool that could live within Blackboard and allows us to create the visual storytelling. Finding a solution to this technological problem was our first challenge. We needed a tool that would allow us to paint on a canvas, and visually engage the students through visual storytelling.

We decided to use Adobe Spark to help us tell the stories of these two online courses. The first course is History of Western Art and Civilization: Renaissance to the Modern Era. This course presents the history of Western art and civilization from the early Renaissance to the modern era. Illustrated lectures explore painting, sculpture, and architecture in relation to pertinent religious, political, economic, and social conditions. The second course is Revolution as Spectacle: Mexico. An exploration of the cultural context of Mexican Revolution, between 1910 and 1940. Cultural production is examined using interconnected perspectives from critical sources and written and visual archival material. Study of the impact of Mexican literary and artistic revolutionary movements in Latin America and the United States during this period. Two courses that are heavily depended on the visual content and storytelling.

The two courses were built on the Adobe Spark platform using the Spark Page tool that allows users with zero coding experience to build visually engaging websites. Adobe Spark Page does have some limitations but it does offer the ability to add images, galleries, links, and titles. The tool is very easy to use and instructors quickly adapted to the Spark Page design environment.

The visual experience was entirely built on Adobe Spark Page and links of assessments and discussions referenced items that lived on Blackboard. A seamless integration between both platforms, visual content, and assessments. The course was chunked into units that represented two weeks of content. The embed code from Spark Page was copied and pasted to an item on Blackboard. Edits were made on the Spark Page and the updates were automatically displayed on Blackboard by clicking on the update link.

We are surveying the course at multiples stages to collect data on student engagement, navigation, and overall experience. We are currently in the first week and we do not have enough data to present an outcome.

We believe that Adobe Spark Page has allowed the instructor to create a more visually engaging storytelling experience for the learner. AIt has also enabled the instructor to paint a visual interpretation of a period in history for the students to marvel. We have been successful at integrating both platforms to create a more visually engaging experience. Adobe Spark Page as the visual canvas and Blackboard as the shell that hosts the Adobe Spark Page and Blackboard discussions and assessments.