Understanding How Elementary Teachers Use and Conceptualize Visual Digital Lessons as a Teaching Strategy




Negley, Katrina

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How can teachers create a greater opportunity for student understanding in today’s classroom that has more and more access to technology? One way may be to utilize the use of pictures and graphics through combining visual digital media into lessons. As an instructional technology resource teacher with a background as an art teacher, I have seen how visual digital lessons (VDLs) bring relevance and greater understanding to student learning. The work of many prominent researchers has backed this up, yet many teachers do not use visual digital lessons. The purpose of this study was to gain a better understanding of why and how high-VDL-using elementary teachers used this strategy as a tool to facilitate student learning. I also wanted to discover if teachers’ education, experiences, and beliefs influenced their use of VDLs. A qualitative study of eight elementary teachers using observations, personal interviews, and teacher reflections found teachers uses two types of visual digital lessons. I labeled these emergent lessons Process Focused and Product Focused. Process Focused lessons allow students to process content knowledge visually through interpreting and/or elaborating. Product Focused lessons allow students to research, plan, and organize their thinking by creating a product with a cohesive visual message. Results show that these high-VDL-using teachers share common learning views, beliefs, and goals for the lessons. Using the knowledge from this study, I plan to create professional development courses for teachers to encourage the use of visual digital lessons and model how to implement the lessons into their classrooms.



Instructional technology, Visual literacy, Digital literacy, Visual learning