The More You Know, the More You See: M-learning of Visual Literacy Skills
Changing technology has created new demands on how people communicate, with the average person now needing to communicate more visually to fully participate in the contemporary world. This has prompted renewed interest in the learning of visual literacy skills. Based on the presupposition that visual literacy skills are not usually learned unaided “by osmosis” but require targeted learning support, this research explores how everyday encounters with visuals can be leveraged as contingent learning opportunities. The study proposes that a learner’s environment can become a visual learning space if appropriate learning support is provided. This learning support may be delivered via the “anytime and anywhere” capabilities of mobile learning (m-learning), which facilitates peer learning in informal settings. The study found that personalised learning, situated learning, and collaborative learning significantly assist visual literacy learning.
Informed by a review of existing learning models, the study propositions a rhizomatic m-learning model of visual skills. The learning model describes how everyday visuals may be leveraged as visual literacy learning opportunities. By devising a tailor-made practice-based research approach, the visual learning model was implemented and tested as an m-learning app. Usability testing and interviews were used to evaluate the app as a learning application, as well as the underlying learning model. The outcomes of the study demonstrate that visual literacy can be achieved by novice learners from contingent learning encounters in informal learning environments through collaboration and by providing context-aware learning support. This finding is encouraging for teaching visual literacy, as it shifts the onus of visual literacy learning away from academic programmes and, in this way, opens an alternative pathway for the learning of visual skills.