Visual Practice

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Activity 1: Getting to Know You

Choose your writing implements:

  • Any kind of paper/iPad
  • Pens/Markers/Pencils
  • online drawing programs like (no account needed to experiment):

Instructions: How would you express your role at UBC visually?

What Is It?

"Visual language is emerging as any other language does by people creating and speaking is born of people's need, worldwide, to deal with complex ideas that are difficult to express in text alone." Bob Horn (Visual Language)

  • the practice of translating often complex ideas into a visual form to aid understanding.
  • the use of images to stimulate creativity and critical thinking.
  • the practice of connecting people and their ideas through images.
  • ""circular breathing" of listening, synthesizing, and visualizing" - Craighton Berman

Why Is It Important?

  • images are stored as coherent Chunks or concepts in long term memory - aiding retention.
  • visual + oral communication is more effective than either on its own.
  • images help translate complex ideas into a format that can be accessed by many.
  • images can incite different ways of thinking about common ideas.



Topic: Cell Phone Use Among Students

Showing Your Stuff.004.jpg Showing Your Stuff.005.jpg Students on cell phones.jpg

Process Diagramming

CLE Training Content Development copy.png Planning09copy.png DT Learning Design Framework.png


Image by GDS Infographics
Image by GDS Infographics
Image by sacks08


Start with a few questions

  • What are you trying to convey?
  • What response are you trying to elicit?
  • What sorts of images might support your message?
  • How might you use text, color, and other visual elements to create emphasis.
  • What sorts of images will resonate with your audience?
  • What sort of task are you engaged in (consensus building, note taking, data visualization, process diagramming, etc.)
  • What are your constraints? (time, ability, interest, knowledge of tools, etc)

Process varies according to task

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Data Visualization

Elements & Techniques

Text and Lettering Text-and-Lettering.png
Symbols Symbols.png
Shapes Shapes.png 11-09-01-UBC-Wordpress-Services.png
Colours Pop-Colours.png


Activity 2: Visualize A Challenge


  • Find a partner, choose who will be the visual translator and the storyteller
  • Focus on a challenge or issue that you've been thinking about related to your work
  • Describe it your partner, who will listen and express it in some sort of visual form
  • Share and discuss with the larger group your process and results

Tools: For drawing:

For mindmapping:


See Also

Graphic Organizers

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