Another dot in the blogosphere?

One thousand words: A lesson on engagement vs empowerment

Posted on: October 1, 2016

As I was grading the work of future instructors, this saying came up a few times: A picture paints a thousand words.

What they meant: Go beyond text and provide richer media like photos or videos because these can say much more.

I concur, but I also commented: There are also a thousand different messages and interpretations of the same image.

If you take only a teacher’s perspective, you see the need to engage with media that attract and hold the attention of students. The rationale might be: I cannot say so much in so little time, so I want to let the medium do it for me.

I use the learner’s point of view. What would a learner think or say? How many variants are there from one expected answer? Which of the interpretations are creative, critical, both creative and critical, superficial, non-sensical, etc.?

I use this CC-licensed image in various ways. One is to illustrate the importance of communication during systemic or organisational change.

The image never fails to get a variety of responses. There are often as many different interpretations as there are people in the room. Some focus on individuals, others on two or all three. Yet others comment on the expressions, orientation, gender, or even the lack of colour in the photo.

An image can paint a thousand words. But whose words do they belong to? Only the teacher who seeks to engage or also the students who are empowered?

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