Scribe to the Tribe: Visual Learning as a Tool For Critical Thinking

I’ve gotten a few inquires already about the cool video on changing the education paradigm, so thought I’d elaborate just a bit on the visual learning concept used by cognitive media.

The idea of the whiteboard drawings synchronized with the audiotape is technically called scribing.  It reminds me just a tad of multimedia skills for learning that we put together in a crude way when I was a scribe for class notes as a graduate student at PCO.  We prided ourselves on having an excellent cadre of scribes who comprised our student note-taking service.  In fact, our scribes were so good that some of the lecturers talked about banning them, since the students would skip class and simply wait for the class notes to come out.  I scribed for our contact lens and was able to use specialized ink to create fluorescein and corneal staining patterns.  My buddy, Carl Kukielka, was the Da Vinci of our scribes, putting out incredibly well-illustrated physiological optics notes including cartoon captions and strips that were the forerunner of what you see in the cognitive media video.

I stumbled onto the cognitive media material, but evidently it has been used alot recently in corporate and organizational settings as part of meeting facilitation.  In that context it’s called graphic facilitation, and Sunni Brown has a nice pithy TED talk on the value of doodling to help learn and retain verbal information and aid information processing.  The doodle engages all four basic learning modalities together with an emotional component.  It is part of the evolution of visual logic.

Something sure to catch the attention of our colleague, Dr. Lynn Hellerstein, is that scribing, or its business counterpart of graphic facilitation, is steeped in visualization, an area in which she has resurrected much interest.  Dr. Bob Sanet and I have had long conversations over the possibility that there are people who are totally devoid of visual imagery, but to whatever extent that aspect of visual information processing is lacking, we can agree that visualization is like a foreign language for some people that can and should be developed.  In the language of graphic facilitation, we are replacing verbs, nouns and sentences with 3D drawings, arrows, and cartoon figures.  It requires converting the ideas using structural frameworks – mind maps, matrix charts, time-lines and diagrams – integrated with the drawings in a nice, neat, and visually pleasing manner. At the opposite end of the spectrum, of course, are those with dyslexia for whom the written word is virtually a foreign language, and who tend to naturally think in pictures.  Graphic facilitation, and to some extent even the style of the blog you’re reading right now, is a learning style that resides between the poles of pure visualization and chapter book reading.

I really love the style that cognitive media employs.    They have a great blend of timing, graphics, and visual metaphor.  Our group has a creative, think tank meeting once yearly and a couple of years ago we discussed Daniel Pink’s book Drive: The Surprising Truth About What Motivates Us.  The secret to high performance and satisfaction—at work, at school, and at home—is the deeply human need to direct our own lives, to learn and create new things, and to do better by ourselves and our world.  He describes true motivation as consisting of autonomy, mastery, and purpose, and cognitive media brings it to life.

So think about this as applied to optometric vision therapy.  Do you and your staff find work challenging and rewarding in the framework of autonomy, mastery, and purpose?  When you have your weekly staff meetings, is everyone engaged?  Equally important, and inter-related, to what extent do you set the framework for motivation with your patients in the drive toward autonomy, mastery, and purpose?  Whether it’s a patient on the autistic spectrum taking the next step in development, a patient with brain injury working her way back toward her former self, a struggling learner, or an athlete looking for a competitive edge, there is always at least one critical moment when even a brief spark can light a fire.

– Leonard J. Press, O.D., FCOVD, FAAO


About Leonard J. Press, O.D., FAAO, FCOVD

Developmental Optometry is my passion as well as occupation. Blogging allows me to share thoughts in a unique visual style.
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One Response to Scribe to the Tribe: Visual Learning as a Tool For Critical Thinking

  1. Oskar says:

    This is exactly what I was looking for, and I don’t care if it’s difficult to learn scribing or graphic facilitation. It’s awesome, and awesome things take time! =)

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