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Visual & Philosophical Pedagogy

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Philosophical pedagogies are typically based on abstract discussion of texts, and have remained largely unchanged throughout the history of the subject. However, there is a considerable body of research which suggests that this is unsuited to some learning styles and may discourage some students from prolonged study (AEL, 2003; Pashler et al, 2008). Many prefer to learn through visual cues and models alongside engaging with literature resources. Students with learning needs like dyslexia might find the emphasis on the written word to be a considerable barrier to philosophical study. Simultaneously, there are ever greater numbers of websites, apps and mashups dedicated to the study of philosophy which sometimes do little more than recreate printed materials in a digital environment.

This presentation explores the potential for introducing and integrating visual pedagogies into teaching and learning philosophy by reviewing a number of different styles of visualization and their possible use in educational scenarios with a particular focus on education and the appropriate use of digital technologies.

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Visual & Philosophical Pedagogy

  1. 1. Visual and Philosophical PedagogiesRobert FarrowVisual Learning: Communication-Cognition-CurriculumBudapest, December 7-8th 2012 The Open Universitys Institute of Educational Technology
  2. 2. Background & Method• My background as philosopher and educational technologist• Exploring possibilities to support access to philosophical education through technology• Methodology: approximately 1 year spent searching for relevant images which were archived to a Pinterest gallery; PHILOS-L query; researching data visualization techniques, accessibility software and pedagogical research• http://pinterest.com/philosopher1978/philosophy-visualizations/ The Open Universitys Institute of Educational Technology
  3. 3. The Open Universitys Institute of Educational Technology
  4. 4. ci.olnet.org / http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Oo3xPyoiwYg
  5. 5. The Open Universitys Institute of Educational Technology
  6. 6. Philosophical Pedagogy• Obviously there is no single pedagogy for philosophy• Typically based on collective, discussion of texts & ideas• May be synchronous or asynchronous• Some research suggests that traditional approaches may not suit some learning styles (AEL, 2003; Pashler et al, 2008)• Massively Open Online Courses (MOOC) and the pedagogies of the future The Open Universitys Institute of Educational Technology
  7. 7. Digital Philosophy• Explosion in visual and media literacy in the computer age• More sites, databases and repositories dedicated to philosophy than ever before• These tend to replicate rather than replace traditional model • E.g. Library database -> Philosophers Index • Archiving of journal paper proofs • Lecture hall -> Video lectures, podcasts• Need for new pedagogies which reflect the new ways in which we share and communicate through technology The Open Universitys Institute of Educational Technology
  8. 8. Rationale• Many students find the emphasis on the written word to be a barrier to learning philosophy• Most online resources supporting philosophy simply digitize and scale up offline resources• Prospect of new pedagogies in philosophy: •New techniques for recording & visualizing information •New technologies allow novel ways to access data The Open Universitys Institute of Educational Technology
  9. 9. Visualizing Philosophy• Some examples in print…
  10. 10. • … and videos on YouTube http://www.youtube.com/user/QualiaSoup http://www.youtube.com/user/clmps2011 / http://www.youtube.com/user/CollegeBinary?feature=watch
  11. 11. Visualizing Philosophy• Such examples are often accessible but typically thought reductive – and perhaps even unhelpful – by professional philosophers• Conversely, the allegorical tradition in art uses rich visual metaphors to convey complex philosophical ideas but can often be hard to decipher The Open Universitys Institute of Educational Technology
  12. 12. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Paolo_uccello,_annunciazione,_ashmolean.jpg Paolo Uccello, Annunciazione (c.1425) The Open Universitys Institute of Educational Technology
  13. 13. http://www.casasantapia.com/art/ambrogiolorenzetti/goodandbadovernment.htm Ambrogio Lorenzetti, Allegoria ed effetti del Buono e del Cattivo Governo (1338-9) The Open Universitys Institute of Educational Technology
  14. 14. Holbein The Younger, Double Portrait of Jean de Dinteville and Georges de Selve (‘The Ambassadors’) (1533)http://www.casasantapia.com/art/ambrogiolorenzetti/goodandbadovernment.htm The Open Universitys Institute of Educational Technology
  15. 15. Visualization• “A visualization method is a systematic, rule-based, external, permanent, and graphic representation that depicts information in a way that is conducive to acquiring insights, developing an elaborate understanding, or communicating experiences.” (Lenger & Eppler, 2007:83) The Open Universitys Institute of Educational Technology
  16. 16. Visualizing Philosophy: Issues• Accessibility without excessive dilution• Inertia within academic culture• What is to be visualized? Abstract concepts/ideas rather than empirical ‘data’• How to be non-reductive? •Visualization to support insight •Visualization as ‘distraction’• The need to support & foster critical thinking The Open Universitys Institute of Educational Technology
  17. 17. Visualizations
  18. 18. Visualizations: Timeline• Timelines can show the history of an idea, or the way in which different philosophers have influenced each other• Some might argue that this information is not really relevant to philosophical reflection(n.b. Heidegger’s remarks on Aristotle)• However, many secondary philosophy books take a broadly historical approach and contextualise philosophical ideas• Augmentation of existing resources
  19. 19. Visualizations: Timeline400 BC • Timeline The Open Universitys Institute of Educational Technology http://media-cache-ec6.pinterest.com/upload/50102614575124563_QbO4RpiM.jpg
  20. 20. 1635 The Open Universitys Institute of Educational Technologyhttp://people.cohums.ohio-state.edu/scharp1/Sociology%20of%20Philosophy%20(Western)%203.1%20%20(part%202).jpg
  21. 21. Visualizations: Mnemonics The Open Universitys Institute of Educational Technology
  22. 22. http://www.informationisbeautiful.net/visualizations/rhetological-fallacies/The Open Universitys Institute of Educational Technology
  23. 23. http://www.informationisbeautiful.net/visualizations/rhetological-fallacies/The Open Universitys Institute of Educational Technology
  24. 24. http://www.informationisbeautiful.net/visualizations/rhetological-fallacies/The Open Universitys Institute of Educational Technology
  25. 25. Visualizations: Representation• Graphical depiction of complex or abstract ideas• ‘Invisibility’ (analogy with HCI)• Can we explain philosophical theories simply through shape and colour?• The possibility of an ‘iconic language’ (Neurath; 1936; Yadani & Barker, 2000; Nyiri, 2003) The Open Universitys Institute of Educational Technology
  26. 26. http://www.geniscarreras.com/philosophy.html
  27. 27. http://www.geniscarreras.com/philosophy.html
  28. 28. http://www.geniscarreras.com/philosophy.html
  29. 29. Visualizations: Network Diagrams• Network Diagrams depict connections between nodes (as in a communication network)• Used to represent levels of granularity within a network The Open Universitys Institute of Educational Technology
  30. 30. http://drunksandlampposts.files.wordpress.com/2012/06/philprettyv4.png
  31. 31. Frege’s Begriffsschrifthttp://people.cohums.ohio-state.edu/scharp1/Begriffsschrift.html The Open Universitys Institute of Educational Technology
  32. 32. The Open Universitys Institute of Educational Technologyhttp://people.cohums.ohio-state.edu/scharp1/Hofstadter.html
  33. 33. The Open Universitys Institute of Educational Technologyhttp://ollieglass.com/tumblr/img/phil_exp_2_1.jpg
  34. 34. Visualizations: OrganizationalFramework• Hierarchical arrangement of information• Shows categorization, systematic dependencies and relations of influence The Open Universitys Institute of Educational Technology
  35. 35. The Open Universitys Institute of Educational Technology
  36. 36. Alfred H. Barr Jr. (1936)designed the originalversion of thisorganizational chartwhich shows thehistorical developmentsand fashions withinmodern art by hand.He reworked it severaltimes and neverproduced a final version(although the coverimage of the cataloguefor Cubism and AbstractArt remains iconic).
  37. 37. http://people.cohums.ohio-state.edu/scharp1/Davidson%20Diagram.jpgThe Open Universitys Institute of Educational Technology
  38. 38. The Open Universitys Institute of Educational Technologyhttp://www.academia.edu/189874/A_Diagram_of_Kants_Critique_of_Pure_Reason
  39. 39. The Open Universitys Institute of Educational Technology
  40. 40. http://www.hegel.net/en/e-poster.htm The Open Universitys Institute of Educational Technology
  41. 41. Visualizations: Mindmaps• Used to outline information visually• Major categories radiate from a central node, and lesser categories are sub-branches of larger branches• Long history in brainstorming & problem solving• Non-linear• Can be connected to make concept maps• Well supported in terms of software The Open Universitys Institute of Educational Technology
  42. 42. Comparative diagrams of selected bibliographies of philosophy from 1498 to 1905 http://jitp.commons.gc.cuny.edu/philosophy-through-the-macroscope-technologies-representations-and-the-history-of-the-profession/ The Open Universitys Institute of Educational Technology
  43. 43. Visualizations: Flow Charts• Diagrammatic reasoning• Pathways into ideas (logic gates)• Reduced possibilities for criticism, reflection or asking questions? Maybe not more so than a lecture…• Again, well supported by software intended for dyslexic students The Open Universitys Institute of Educational Technology
  44. 44. http://visual.ly/find-out-what-you-are
  45. 45. Possibilities for Innovation• New forms of pedagogical support• New ways to navigate data: bibliographies, databases, etc.• Curriculum & Learning Design• Access: – Accommodating learning styles – Delivery through ubiquitous technologies – Pathways into the subject – Connectivity & ‘Openness’ The Open Universitys Institute of Educational Technology
  46. 46. New (?) Pedagogies• Collective creation of new kinds of digital artefacts• New forms of collective activity in curriculum design• Student work which is not based in writing or discussion• Iconic languages for facilitating philosophical reflection/understanding• Opening the subject up to non-specialists/interdisciplinarity The Open Universitys Institute of Educational Technology
  47. 47. Critique• Philosophy is simply not about retaining information• Philosophy, reflection and ‘facts’• Reification and the need for participatory culture• None of this is particularly unique to philosophy… though perhaps this indicates a breadth of opportunity• Should the visual approach be limited to introductory materials? If not, we need to build new tools and digital artifacts The Open Universitys Institute of Educational Technology
  48. 48. philosopher1978r.j.farrow@open.ac.ukInstitute of Educational TechnologyThe Open UniversityWalton HallMilton KeynesMK7 6AAwww.open.ac.uk/iet

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