Welcome to the Visual Learning web site
This website has been created to house resources for staff and students to support the development of visual, spatial and tactile knowledge and skills in any discipline. These are not usually included in general study guides, but they are important in most subjects, including science and humanities subjects as well as art and design. Typically, they include such activities as:
- observation and recording of visual data (e.g. during field visits, laboratory work or in clinical settings);
- demonstrating and learning technical procedures of all kinds;
- evaluation and analysis of visual evidence, and the ability to use this in developing ideas and arguments;
- visual research methods;
- effective use and understanding of visual communication (sometimes known as 'visual literacy').*
The site also contains suggestions for using visual approaches to help other aspects of learning in higher education. For instance, there is now considerable evidence to suggest that making ideas visible and tangible (through drawing, diagrams, collage or other techniques) is a powerful way to enable individuals or groups to engage with and explore abstract concepts.
The site originated as part of the LearnHigher Centre of Excellence in Teaching and Learning. You can find out more about LearnHigher and the background to the project by clicking on the link in the sidebar.
* For an fascinating demonstration of the relevance of the visual in different disciplines, see the variety of examples in James Elkins Visual Practices Across the University (based on an exhibition, later published by Wilhelm Fink Verlag, 2007 - now available online). Elkins described this as:
"a study of the range of image-making and image-interpreting practices in an average university, with no particular stress on art. There are chapters by doctors, lawyers, scientists of all sorts, engineers, humanists, social scientists... it is a cross-section of the actual production of images in the university." He argues that "One way to bring [the university] together, or at least to raise the possibility that [it] is a coherent place, is to consider different disciplines through their visual practices. To begin a university-wide discussion of images, it is first necessary to stop worrying about what might count as art or science, and to think instead about how kinds of image-making and image interpretation might fall into groups, and therefore be amenable to teaching and learning outside their disciplines. Above all, it is necessary to look carefully and in detail, and not flinch from technical language or even from the odd equation."