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Creative reviewing with pictures

visual debriefing methods for reflecting on experience

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These creative ways of facilitating reflection in experiential learning
are part of Roger Greenaway's Guide to Active Reviewing.

[Mona Lisa]
The use of 'pictures' in reviewing helps learners to 'see' their experiences and to communicate their experiences to others.

Pictures can also enhance the quality of communication throughout the learning cycle.

The reviewing techniques described in this section illustrate some of the basic tools and strategies that can be used to exploit our need to think and communicate in pictures.
INTRODUCTION TO CREATIVE REVIEWING

Does every picture tell a story?
When is a picture worth 1,000 words?
PICTURE-BASED METHODS (next page)

Try out these visual aids for helping participants to reflect and communicate in pictures.
LINKS TO OTHER VISUAL METHODS (next page) Links to more advanced tools and more specialised applications using art therapy and other creative arts.

THE BENEFITS OF USING PICTURES

Using pictures as part of a reviewing process can produce these benefits:
  1. The process of creating pictures helps individuals to sort out their own thoughts and feelings - after which they are able to express themselves more clearly (with or without the picture they created).
  2. The process of creating pictures co-operatively (in pairs or groups) encourages people to talk to each other in some depth and detail about their experiences of the activity being reviewed.
  3. Whatever is created through pictures serves as a visual aid or confidence booster in helping people to communicate their experience of the activity to others.
  4. Pictures expand the 'language' of reviewing, open up new channels of communication and generally help to develop communication skills.
  5. The picture may speak for itself, sometimes communicating more about an activity experience than a verbal picture would achieve.
  6. Pictures can be used at all stages of a learning cycle - for describing the past, for communicating about the present and for envisioning the future. See this example
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STUCK IN A VERBAL RUT?

We all think in pictures - some more than others - depending on our 'preferred learning styles'. We can use words, tone of voice and gestures to communicate our mental pictures to others. We can also - of course - use pictures to communicate pictures! But many of us get stuck in the groove of communication by words alone - even where a picture would be worth 1,000 words (and might even save a lot of time).
The use of visual communication tools can help people to get out of a verbal rut and to communicate more easily in both words and pictures.

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'I CAN'T DRAW!'

For some people it is 'second nature' to think and express themselves through pictures. And many people find it easier to talk when they can refer to a picture as a 'visual aid'. Unfortunately there are also many people who believe they cannot draw. Part of the skill in using picture-based reviewing techniques is in using methods that bypass such restricting beliefs.

For example: people who say 'I can't draw!' can make use of pictures by:

  • choosing a ready-made picture
  • making a collage
  • taking photographs and talking about them
  • giving instructions to someone else to draw the picture in their mind
  • doing 'abstract art' in which there is no expectation of creating realistic likenesses.
In a supportive learning climate, even people who think they cannot draw may take the risk and discover they can!

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THE POWER OF PICTURES

In our everyday lives we are surrounded by art, pictures, and images. We are living in an increasingly visual culture. Advertisers, campaigners, TV programme makers, creators of educational resources are continually experimenting with ways in which pictures can attract attention and get messages across. Some advertisements have no words at all. If pictures are such a powerful means of communication, why do we not make more use of them as a reviewing tool?

Diagrams, learning models and flow charts are often used as reviewing aids, but there are many other ways in which pictures can be used in reviewing. This section introduces some picture-based reviewing tools to add to your growing toolkit. For more advanced techniques you may wish to explore the world of art therapy. 

[INDEX TO MORE PAGES ABOUT REVIEWING WITH PICTURES]

   
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