Universal Design & Visual Literacy

Google Classroom Graphic


When I was tasked with this assignment, I immediately had a visual in mind that I had used with my students to take the guesswork out of Google Classroom and how it works.  The graphic was created by Alice Keeler.  The principle of universal design as it pertains to visual literacy combines words and visuals in such a way that regardless of prior experience with the content the learner is able to ascertain the meaning of the visual, according to Linda Lohr.


Given the K-12 examples in the text, I felt that a visual with numbers, text, and images was a good representation of this visual learning theory.  The clearly numbered parts let the user know what needs to be done 1st, 2nd, and so on in order to set up a Google Classroom account and navigate the various features.  By placing the numbers that correspond with directions on a screenshot of Google Classroom, there is no confusion about where to enter information or what to select first.  This allows the end user to have a clear sense of the sequence of events (page 18).


However, this element does not transcend to all other languages as it is a mixture of both visual and textual representations.  In order to be truly universal, there would need to be strictly graphic in nature.  Numeric systems for the vast majority of the globe are universally understood, however, there are those in Asia that have different characters which they rely upon as their primary numberic representation.

Lohr, L. (2003). Creating graphics for learning and performance: Lessons in visual literacy. Upper Saddle River, NJ: Merrill.

Introductory Image Assignment

506 Intro Image.fw


To create my introductory image I use Adobe Fireworks.  In designing my image, my first step was to select a color scheme.  To do this, I used Adobe Color CC to locate a color scheme that was visually pleasing.  My favorite time of year is the summer because I can spend lots of time outside wearing my favorite foot attire, flip flops.  The color scheme I selected from the gallery was called Vintage Pastel 2.  Once the color scheme was chosen, I used the RGB # to create a solid background color on which I began building my image.  I then used the rounded rectangle shape to create a mat for the text box that would include my name.  I used the fill effects of the wave in this box to give it movement and to tie in with the summer colors theme.  I used a font style that I felt was refined with a whimsical element called Apple Chancery.  To have the words stand out, I used a line color to contrast and the filters of raised emboss and inner glow.
Next I brought in the logo of the school I work at and my job title along with an OER image of a computer that I located on the website Icon Finder.  Also, from this site, I found a graphic of flip flops.  For my personal images, I used the polyline tool in Fireworks to cut around them on a separate canvas and copied them into my project file.  I selected these images to represent myself and family life outside of school.  The last image was originally from Vector Portal.  I didn’t like the color scheme in the graphic, so I used Adobe Illustrator to edit the gradient scale using the colors I selected from Adobe Color CC.  I figured out how to do this using a tutorial on to modify the star image.  I layered this with the phrase “Shooting for the Stars” because I am always setting new goals to work on both personally and professionally.  To finish everything off, I added several drop shadows to various elements to give the image more depth.

EdTech 531: SL Building Basics

After reviewing the building basic videos and understanding how prims (primitive objects) work together I constructed a simple lamp.  I pulled in a texture I had used in a previous course of a Tetris image to create a Tetris lamp.  Then placed it on a display block that I customized by pulling in an image created in Fireworks.

For simple objects, the process is relatively simple.  My particular item was comprised of two prims I linked together.  The tricky part was aligning them on the axis so they create a cohesive object from all angles.  Honestly, I’m not sure that I have this just right at this point, however, with practice I should be able to create more complex objects.

tetris lamp & display_001

I then tried to create a couch out of four prims. This was a much bigger challenge to construct and get to a place where I felt like it was a decent virtual object. I can’t imagine the time it takes to construct an entire structure. I found a Minecraft texture image online that I used to create my video game themed couch. This just might turn into a complete line of products with a video game theme to them.
Minecraft couch_001

EdTech 531: Second Life

This week’s adventure in the pursuit of my masters degree takes me to delving into Second Life. Second Life is a virtual space that can be used for a virtual meeting space. In Second Life, there is a wide range of activities, meeting spaces, and interactive features.

This isn’t my first Second Life experience. I was first introduced to second life machinima as part of my professional development experience in 3D GameLab. Then again to the virtual space as a way to create a simulation game to experience educational concepts in EdTech 532.

The quests I’ve been working through in EdTech 531 have been a great refresher to the use of controls in Second Life. Overall, the system is pretty simple to navigate for users that know how to use a web browser. This interactive space has unlimited possibilities as the users create and modify their own spaces within the world.

EdTech 504 – Chapter 5 Summary

Chapter 5 Summary

Argumentation and Student-Centered Learning Environments

The opening line of this chapter by Nussbaum encompasses education perfectly. “Humans play games! These games often involve argumentation, which is the process of constructing and critiquing arguments (p. 114, Jonassen & Land).  The educational system is a game as learners we need to identify the winning condition of learning in tasks presented by educators and how best to meet those conditions.  In the case of argumentation, the game is creating a well-backed argument to either defend one’s position or to dig deeper into the curricula through systematic questioning.  Nussbaum refers to this as learning to argue and arguing to learn.  With the release of the Common Core State Standards, this has become a skill that is increasingly more important in classroom instruction.  As the high-stakes tests that evaluate student and teacher performance on these exams are looking for students to justify their responses by citing their sources back to readings.

Nussbaum indicates that “argumentation mapping” is an initial first step.  This would be the same as prewriting for a paper.  In the case of argumentation, typically students will be engaging in their arguments in verbal interaction or through a series of responses in a digital environment when a face to face interaction is not possible.  The mapping of the argumentation aids an individual to follow a linear thought through the possible arguments it also can be used to map out the conversation that occurs as part of the discourse discussion.

Collaborative reasoning is another form of argumentation that is often used as part of a lit circle model in elementary and middle school.  It is also an element of Socratic seminars as well.  In this model the following ground rules exist:

think critically about ideas, not about people;

try to understand both sides of an issue; and

restate what someone has said if it is not clear (p. 126, Jonassen & Land).

Students run the conversations in collaborative reasoning and teachers take a step back and act more as an observer.  This model does take some front loading for the teacher to take more of a back seat to allow for the free flow of in-depth conversation and questioning to create argumentative discourse to gain a deeper understanding of the content.

Argumentation as game play is done through scripted questioning style to gain a deeper understanding.  The programs created allow students to think more critically about the content often by using technology tools to create a dialogue discourse to gain clarity on a classmate’s position.

Jonassen, D. (2012). Theoretical Foundations of Learning Environments (2nd ed., pp. 114-141). New York: Routledge.