Combining pictures with print or audio generally maximizes learning

I still can’t find any research in support of the claim that “humans process pictures 60 000 times faster than text.”


I have found several papers that support the statement that “combining pictures with print or audio generally [maximizes] learning”. This is a direct quote from Gwen C. Nugent’s article “Pictures, audio, and print: symbolic representation and effect on learning” published in Educational Technology Research and Development, Volume 30, Number 3 (1982), 163-174


This also appears to be supported in Malcolm L. Fleming’s article “On pictures in educational research” published in Instructional Science, Volume 8, Number 3 (1979), 235-251.


Dr. John Medina, in his book Brain Rules talks about the Pictorial Superiority Effect (page 233-234), he writes: “If information is presented orally, people remember about 10%, tested 72 hours after exposure. That figure goes up to 65% if you add a picture.”


There’s lots of stuff online about the Pictorial Superiority Effect, it turned out to be the key search term. or phrase, for me in my research. The learning gains are nowhere near 60 000 times greater but the use of images closely related to the text displayed and/or spoken consistently lead to measurable learning gains. Moving pictures, animations, seem to be even better than static images.


One paper that seems to be important vis a vis the Pictorial Superiority Effect is “Pictorial superiority effect.” by Nelson, Douglas L.; Reed, Valerie S.; Walling, John R. published in the Journal of Experimental Psychology: Human Learning and Memory, Vol 2(5), Sep 1976, 523-528. You can buy it for $12 online here:


or just read the abstract for free.


Here’s a short video explaining the Pictorial Superiority Effect




"Working Inside the Black Box" can dramatically improve student learning

An excellent article by Black & Williams et al on practical strategies to implement Assessment For Learning in the classroom. Teachers implementing these ideas in their classes can dramatically improve learning for their students.


Dylan Williams recently said that after 14 years of implementing AfL across the UK the governmental implementation got it all wrong:


Visuals improve presentation effectiveness by 43% – research paper from 1986

It seems the often cited “According to research from 3M Corporation, we process visuals 60,000 times faster than text.” is false.

see: and

This paper appears to be the source of the claim that “Presentations using visual aids were found to be 43% more persuasive than unaided presentations.”

Important to note: they compared 35mm slides with overhead transparencies as 2 of 8 variables including the quality of the presenter herself. The nature of the presentations given (video lectures and the same video accompanied by manually operated visual supports) suggests to me that a live presenter using modern presentation tools (PowerPoint, Keynote or Interactive White Boards) might have different results.

Source link:

Impact of summative testing on students’ motivation to learn

What do we want to know?

The impact of testing on teachers, teaching and students' achievement is well represented in reviews of research. Much less attention has been given to the impact on motivation for learning. While it is claimed that tests cause students to put more effort into learning, a counter claim is that tests motivate only some students and that they increase the gap between higher and lower achieving students. This review, prompted by the burgeoning of testing in many countries in the 1990s, aims to identify the impact of summative assessment and testing on students' motivation for learning.

What did we find?????

  • After the introduction of the National Curriculum tests in England, low-achieving pupils had lower self-esteem than higher-achieving students; before the tests, there had been no correlation between self-esteem and achievement.?? Low self-esteem reduces the chance of future effort and success.
  • High-stakes tests can result in transmission teaching and highly-structured activities.?? This favours only students with certain learning styles.?? These tests can become the rationale for all that is done in the classroom.
  • A strong emphasis on testing produces students with a strong extrinsic orientation towards grades and social status, i.e. a motivation towards performance rather than learning goals.?? Students dislike high-stakes tests, showing high levels of test anxiety, and are aware that they give only a narrow view of what they can do.
  • Interest and effort are increased in classrooms which encourage self-regulated learning by providing students with an element of??choice, control over challenge and opportunities to work collaboratively.??
  • Feedback that is ego-involving rather than task-involving is associated with an orientation to performance goals.

What are the implications?

  • There should be an emphasis on learning rather than performance goals by teachers and in professional development.?? Teachers should avoid comparisons between students based on test results.
  • Teachers should develop students' understanding of the goals of their learning, the criteria by which they are assessed and their ability to assess their own work, and encourage self-regulation in learning.
  • There should be a move towards testing individual students when teachers judge them to be ready.??
  • Schools should develop assessment policies that include both formative and summative assessment and ensure that the purpose of all assessment is clear to those involved.
  • Policies for school evaluation should ensure that it: covers a full range of subjects; includes moral, spiritual and cultural as well as cognitive aims; and includes a variety of teaching methods and learning outcomes.
  • For tracking national standards, only a sample of students needs to be tested.
  • Comparisons among schools in terms of test results should be avoided and the practice of basing targets only on test results should be ended.

source: A systematic review of the impact of summative assessment and tests on students' motivation for learning

Why I don’t trust Facebook

From Facebook’s Statement of Rights and Responsibilities, which all Facebook users must agree with to use the service, as well as Facebook’s Privacy Policy:


“For content that is covered by intellectual property rights (…) you specifically give us the following permission, subject to your privacy and application settings: you grant us a non-exclusive, transferable, sub-licensable, royalty-free, worldwide license to use any IP content that you post on or in connection with Facebook.”


People, when acting generous towards each other, sometimes say: “What’s mine is yours.” Facebook demands this of it’s users. I don’t like people who behave this way towards me. I’m not a fan of companies who do it either.

ipadio: Always Beta – 4th phonecast

The Future of Online Learning: Ten Years On

Fascinating prognostications by Stephen Downes through 2018; he anticipated the iPad. The article (see link below) is over 50 pages long and well worth the read.


The snippets that most resonated with me are below, scroll down …

the student of the future will not start up an operating system, internet browser, word processor and email program in order to start work on a course. The student will start up the course, which in turn will start up these applications on its own.

While technology changes rapidly, people do not. People want to use tools that look and feel like tools they’ve always used, and will tend to adopt tools only if they see a clear benefit either in productivity or in savings.

education is fundamentally a process of communication; learning, by contrast, is fundamentally a process of growth

the line dividing the professional from the non-professional community will become increasingly elusive over time

There is a significant loss of efficiency in environments of closed, controlled communication.

Time continues to be the dominant metaphor for units of learning, and learning continues to be constrained by time … the model is that of a group of people starting at the same time, studying the same materials at the same pace, and ending at the same time.
In the case of informal learning, students are not constrained by the limits of the classroom model. They can set their own curriculum and proceed at their own pace. Learning can thus be based on a student’s individual needs, rather than as predefined in a formal class, and based on a student’s schedule, rather than that set by the institution.

Traditional learning composed of classes and cohorts operates more as a group than as a network … Classes are closed; there is a clear barrier between members and non-members.

In the case of informal learning, however, the structure is much looser. People pursue their own objectives in their own way, while at the same time initiating and sustaining an ongoing dialogue with others pursuing similar objectives.

In traditional learning, success is achieved not merely by passing the test but in some way being recognized as having achieved expertise. A test-only system is a coarse system of measurement for a complex achievement.
(Darren’s Note: See Frank Smith’s The Book of Learning and Forgetting)

[Game players] begin playing the game, and as they attempt to achieve goals or perform tasks, the learning they need is provided in that context. [Consider this as a definition of a PLE.] … The process, simply, is that learners will be presented with learning resources according to their interests, aptitudes, educational levels, and other factors (including employer factor and social factors) while they are in the process of working at their job, engaging in a hobby, or playing a game.

The focus of a personal learning environment is more on creation and communication than it is consumption and completion. It is best to think of the interfaces facilitated by a personal learning environment as ways to create and manipulate content, as applications rather than resources.

The products of our conversations are as concrete as test scores and grades. (Ryan, 2007) But, as the result of a complex and interactive process, they are much more complex, allowing not only for the measurement of learning, but also for the recognition of learning. As it becomes easier to simply see what a student can accomplish, the idea of a coarse-grained proxy, such as grades, will fade to the background.

… a recent TED demonstration saw an application that created a three-dimensional composite image of Notre Dame Cathedral composed from thousands of Flickr photos. (Arcas, 2007) Educational institutions can in the same way create pictures of our understanding of other – less concrete – concepts that can be found in the thousands and millions of bits of content created by people around the world.

The purpose of educational institutions, therefore, is not merely to create and distribute learning opportunities and resources, but also to facilitate a student’s participation in a learning environment…

… knowledge is contained, not merely in the bits of information transmitted to and fro as content and creations, but in the way these contents, and the people that create them, link together. (e.g. the way Photosynth “creates” Notre Dame Cathedral from flickr images.)

The purpose of educational institutions, therefore, is not merely to create and distribute learning opportunities and resources, but also to facilitate a student’s participation in a learning environment – a game, a community, a profession – through the provision of the materials that will assist him or her to, in a sense, see the world in the same way as an accomplished expert; and this is accomplished not merely by presenting learning materials to the learner, but by facilitating the engagement of the learner in conversations with members of that community of experts.

Content and learning resources, rather than being thought of as static objects, ought to be thought of as a dynamic flow. They are more like water or electricity and they are like books and artifacts. (Darren’s Note: Think RSS feeds.)

In the end, what will be evaluated is a complex portfolio of a student’s online activities.

Earning a degree will, in such a world, resemble less a series of tests and hurdles, and will come to resemble more a process of making a name for oneself in a community. The recommendation of one person by another as a peer will, in the end, become the standard of educational value, not the grade or degree.

… time is ceasing to be an objective standard of learning. (Consider the Google Knol or “Learning Objects” as individual units of knowledge.)

we are approaching the era when online learning will also be seen as mobile learning. (Darren’s Note: see the Kaplan Univ commercial: “The system has failed you.”)

… [instructional] designers realize that, instead of delivering content to the student, they can require the student to go out and get it – or even better, to go out and create it.

… it is important to understand that place independence means that real learning will occur in real environments, with the contributions of the students not being some artifice designed strictly for practice, but an actual contribution to the business or enterpr
ise in question.

Current online learning efforts are based on the idea that learning will occur in a certain online place – a learning management system, say – or will be conducted using certain software tools.

… schools will be converted into meeting facilities, workrooms and laboratories, multimedia studios, and more. Specialized equipment, such as sound-proof recording studios and high-speed video editing equipment, will be made available. Libraries will evolve (in a transition that is happening today) into multimedia studios …

… a field trip to a local stream or forest would be seen as a once-a-semester activity, because it would otherwise consume too much class time, it could now become (for some students) a once-a-day activity, with what used to be classroom activities designed around the field trips.

Although we learn what we learn from personal experience, we usually learn what we learn from other people.

as Wenger says, “… the school is not the privileged locus of learning. It is not a self-contained, closed world in which students acquire knowledge to be applied outside, but a part of a broader learning system. The class is not the primary learning event. It is life itself that is the main learning event.”

Strictly speaking there is no such thing as a ‘learning community’ – save, perhaps, the strained and artificial creations of educational institutions that try to cram classes into collectives, creating personal relationships where none naturally exist.

… communities are grown rather than constructed and (therefore) they are owned (and managed) by their members rather than by some external agency. Sharing and learning cannot be “legislated into existence.”

Students gather around an instructor precisely because the instructor has knowledge, beliefs and opinions that the students don’t share. They gather around each other because they each have unique experiences. Fostering a learning community is as much a matter of drawing on the differences as it is a matter of underlining the similarities.

Despite the efforts of educators and individuals to create (often lavish and complex) learning environments for students, this will in the long run not be necessary. Learners will create their own communities, their own environments. At most, the educator needs to ensure that the tools are there for students to use, and that the channels of communication, from student to student, from community to community, are open.

… what we know of the communities of the future where learning will actually occur is that they will be communities in which learners can immerse themselves and grow into something new. Previous experience suggests that these will be places where they can create and where they can project – not “serious games” but “modding communities”, not “reading groups” but “fan fiction”, not “educational simulations” but “LAN parties”.

… it is probably inevitable that the domains of ‘learning’ and ‘testing’ will separate. In the future it may even be thought of as quaint that those responsible for the fostering of learning were also those responsible for evaluating whether or not learning actually happened.

People who are in some way able to demonstrate their ability – through a portfolio system, for example, are able to circumvent the need for testing altogether.

Where a 20 or 40-hour course may be appropriate in an in-person learning environment, shorter courses are more appropriate online, as short as ten or fifteen minutes.

Consider a bookmarking service such as, for example. Although its primary function is to allow a person to manage his or her bookmarks, it also becomes a record of what that person has read (or, at least, seen). Consequently, the bookmark as public performance and record becomes one of its primary functions.


2010 Social Networking Map


Source: Flowtown

World Languages


Teaching World Languages teachers about posterous.

Teaching Posterous

Teaching early years teachers the dead simplest way to start blogging. 😉

Darren Kuropatwa

Winnipeg, MB, Canada

Skype: dkuropatwa