Open Thinkering


New metaphors and symbols required!

Fre WiFi

What’s wrong with this image?

Part of the problem with technology adoption in education comes from perceived parental pressure and expectation. This is fuelled by a rather reactionary media who use outdated metaphors and reference points in their discussion of education.

Want to represent education? Here you go:

The trouble is, I can’t remember the last time I saw a teacher in a mortarboard, a child giving an apple to a teacher, or a blackboard in a classroom. These are outdated metaphors.

Come to think of it, why should the following represent ‘accessibility’?

I’ve been reading about Universal Design for Learning recently, which makes ‘accessibility’ an issue to consider for every student and individual. It’s not just about people with disabilities.

We need new metaphors. The way we communicate things is hugely important and imagery is especially important given the human brain processes images 60,000 times faster than text.* We need metaphors that help to explain education as it should be in the 21st century, not the 19th.

How can we represent learning and education more generally in a more forward-thinking way?

* I can’t seem to find a source for this scientific study although it’s often mentioned.

If you’re still wondering what’s wrong with the introductory image (which I took at a service station recently) it uses a green RSS icon instead of the recognised wifi logo. It’s not the end of the world, but they should know better.

3 thoughts on “New metaphors and symbols required!

  1. I wholeheartedly agree with this. What we need is a really good set of stock imagery/icons for education. How many times have you seen a school website/publication/learning platform where subjects were represented by appalling 90s clipart.

    Maths = cartoon calculator
    English = book
    PE = football
    History = Shakespeare’s head
    Geography = globe
    ICT = computer

    Most of these don’t seem too bad but none of the clipart images selected have matching styles and just look tacky.

    Back to the original post about an image to represent education, it needs to be an image than blends tech and non-tech, child focused and about learning.

  2. Could agree more, Doug! As I was reading this I started thinking about changing the way we communicate with parents using imagery reflect our approach to education and learning; I am part of a team that uses metaphors extensively. I eagerly await an answer to your final question! This post has really got me thinking….

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