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Importance of Visual Literacy in Tech

All artwork is created by me; collaboration of works from Black HoleFun HomeUnderstanding Comics, MausPersepolis.

        In the midst of classes, lectures, projects, finals and everything of the sort, I've realized a common trend. Despite having classes in extremely different areas of study (i.e. African Verbal Arts & Performances and Program and Problem Solving 30 - ECS), I find myself doing better in classes that have no relation to one another-even in the ones that are within the same concentration it seems there is no correlation with how well I understand the material. For example, in my ECS class I've maintained a solid 98% pre-curve throughout the quarter, while in my MAT21B class (that supposedly also requires the same part of the brain as ECS30) I have barely been able to scrape an A with the curve. This is not to say that one class is simply more difficult; in fact, both are equally as intense in rigor and material. 

        Needless to say, this left me in a quandary for most of the quarter. I unstintingly believed that people do best in subjects associated with their "right-side" or "left-side" dominance. It was not until a professor of mine explained to me that there is an unspoken "visual literacy". Having heard this, I fastidiously employed myself to find every possible example of this 'visual literacy' in everyday life. Amongst my perusal of my surroundings, I found an overwhelmingly large number of things effect learning. In sum, our eyes generalize everything around us. How do we recognize the shape of a tree? We remember the pattern, the general shape our eyes trace gets etched into our subconscious. It is easy to say then, that what we can visually learn cannot easily be just "left-side" or "right-side". Thus in the classroom, the better visual representation of something, the better our understanding! 

        However, I did not write this post to profess some kind of profundity on the nature of learning. Rather, it was to explain the latest growing learning craze: interactive applications for new programmers. It seems everywhere you turn, there's a new site teaching young teens how to program. Here's the best part: it works. To name a few, there's the obvious CodeAcademy, the famous Made w/ Code (which recently began trending with it's "Build a Christmas Tree for the White House" feature), TreeHouseCodeCombat, and even GoldieBlox toys (sure wish I had this as a kid)! While it's great to read from a book and get a thorough understanding, these websites enable mobility to the everyday person to learn. With each passing day, learning to program is becoming increasingly important–our very own President found it worth his time!

        Although it's wonderful, we need to take this a step further. Visual learning needs to reach new depths in the tech world. With the given onset of big data, visual representations and generalizations are essential. We keep waiting for the splurge of tech that will make our lives ten times easier, but this cannot and will not be achieved without developing this visual literacy and adopting it into the tech world more.

It starts with you.

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