University of Nicosia (CYPRUS)
About this paper:
Appears in: ICERI2020 Proceedings
Publication year: 2020
Pages: 3076-3080
ISBN: 978-84-09-24232-0
ISSN: 2340-1095
doi: 10.21125/iceri.2020.0707
Conference name: 13th annual International Conference of Education, Research and Innovation
Dates: 9-10 November, 2020
Location: Online Conference
In an era when individuals are constantly bombarded with visual stimuli, visual literacy becomes an important focus of education in order to develop children’s skills in perceiving, analyzing, and responding critically to images. This was also the focus of the instructional design project described in this paper, which evolved in a period of one semester at the Department of Education of a private eastern-European university as a collaboration between students enrolled in an art education course, students enrolled in a cognitive psychology course, their instructors, and a local elementary school.

The purpose of the project was to transform part of an elementary school’s yard pavement into a multimodal play area. The benefits of multimodality, that is, meaning-making incorporating multiple modes, or different channels of communication and the benefits of students’ production of multimodal compositions, or creation of texts using multiple modes, such as language, sound, movement or image, include the development of affordances for learning, required tools and dispositions for critically engaging texts opportunities for new modes of student engagement, and enhanced creativity and agency (Kress & van Leeuwen, 2006). However, further studies are needed to underline the benefits of creating and incorporating multimodal texts outside the classroom for both enhancing and assessing students’ visual literacy skills.

The project described in this paper was initiated when an elementary school asked for a Department of Education’s contribution in transforming part of the school yard pavement into an area for children’s play. In the context of an art education undergraduate course, the students studied the characteristics of narrative imagery, combined expressive elements from children’s books, enriched them with additional imaginary symbols, and collaboratively produced on paper what they considered a narrative image based on the big idea of traveling in a fantasy landscape or following a path in a 24-hour time frame. The visual and conceptual choices of the six art education students, along with enlarging the image from paper to a 12x3 meters school yard pavement area, inspired another group of 8 students in an educational psychology course to utilize the image as a game board for school children. By the end of the semester, they had developed the scenario and rules for an age-appropriate, dynamic educational game with cards and pawns, promoting creative storytelling, and titled, ‘Travelcups’. The game rules allow for flexibility in terms of how the players would move around through the different paths. It also allows for subversive alternations of narrated plots, making the game entertaining and unique every time it is played.

The process of transforming school space proved to be a complex thinking process for everybody involved. Multidisciplinary collaborations among instructors, university students, and elementary school children proved to be an important strategy for developing 21st century skills. Meaningful artmaking for producing narrative images and flexible thinking in planning a story to accompany the image as guidelines for children’s play can facilitate communication, collaboration, critical thinking and creative problem solving.

[1] Kress, G. & van Leeuwen, T. (2006). Reading Images: The Grammar of Visual Design. New York, NY: Routledge.
Visual literacy, narrative imagery, multimodal play, 21st century skills.