Tuesday, May 31, 2005

Different Ways to Visualize and Visualization in Education

The reference below is a recent paper by Marcel Just's group finding that the intraparietal sulcus (IPS) is more strongly activated by geometric imagery determinations (shape, size), compared to other imagery involving touch like roughness or hardness. The IPS is a region of interest for various developmental happenings including dyscalculia, the math disability which can be seen in association with dyslexia and finger confusion. These different networks for imagery are helpful for understanding why paradoxes in individual people abound - how come he's such a strong 'visual learner' but he can't do origami or tie his shoes? Why is she so hypersensitive to touch and texture, but so nimble playing the violin?

But as we learn more about visualization, we not only learn more about individual patterns of strengths or weaknesses in people, we also gain a greater understanding for the different components of visualization and imagery, so that it makes us more conscious of the processes and different aspects of its usefulness in problem solving or expression.

We are spotlighting a few other fascinating spatial and visualization links below. First, a fabulous 36 page newsletter from SIGGRAPH which includes an article from Pat Hanrahan talking about his computer visualization course at Stanford, an article from Susan Varnum talking about how she came into Web-based learning from computer animation, and Sue Blackman about Serious Games.

Another neat website is a Visual Thinking course website from Spalter and Van Dam from Brown. It includes 'visual literacy exercises', examples of bad web design, and other great links.

Another terrific course website from MIT (Thank you, Open Courseware) - takes visualization into another domain: Social Visualization - "Millions of people are on-line today and the number is rapidly growing - yet this virtual crowd is often invisible. In this course we will examine ways of visualizing people, their activities and their interactions. Students will study the cognitive and cultural basis for social visualization through readings drawn from sociology, psychology and interface design and they will explore new ways of depicting virtual crowds and mapping electronic spaces through a series of design exercises."

More conventional K-12 lesson plans form encouraging imagery (visual, auditory, movement) are listed below.

It goes without saying that visualization and spatial learning are terribly neglected in standard K-12 learning, but it is the wave of the present and the future, and it's ironic that many of the most talented spatial students could be struggling in verbal-dominant classrooms, unaware of their gifts.

Different Patterns for Geometric vs. Other Tactile Imagery
Learning Through Computer Visualization
Visual Thinking course
MIT Social Visualization
Geometry K-12
Scientific Visualization Lessons

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