Dec 072011

Can educational courseware be designed in such a way that they address the needs of (a) gifted learners (b) disadvantaged learners (c) and all learners that fall between these two extreme poles?

This was the challenge I took on in the design of Karismath courseware. The primary tools for designing it in such a way were (a)  visual scaffolding and (b) visual mediation.

Visual mediation runs parallel to auditory mediation. In spoken and written language of discourse, print is converted into speech-sound (auditory mediation) before it is accessed for meaning. All alphabetic languages are learned via auditory mediation. Mathematics, however, does not lend itself to auditory mediation. You can read mathematical symbols aloud correctly, and it will sound like gibberish to most. It has no developed grammar or syntax that can compare with regular languages.

How, then can one make Mathematics easy to read and comprehensible when auditory mediation (changing  print into sounds, then sounds into meaning) does not work? The answer lay in exploring visual mediation. Turn print into visuals that a learner can understand. The visuals will then lend themselves to meaning.

That’s the solution I proposed to myself, and now to the rest of the world. Visual mediation does not simply mean “making Math visual”. It means :

  1. fusing pedagogical principles, learning theories and mathematical understanding into a single whole.
  2. distilling these into a set of dynamic imagery that  displaces teacher-gestures (yes, those hand and facial gestures, auditory intonations that teachers make while explaining something, is critical to understanding Math), and of course, words.
  3. reconstruct the  mental visual manipulations of the learner (yes, learners can rotate angles in their heads even as they study a static image of a geometry problem) and
  4. make all abstract and numerically implicit mathematical connections and nuances visually explicit via dynamic imagery.

Here is sample educational video based on the principles I outlined:

Shad Moarif

Founder-Developer of Karismath.

Visual mediation is based on Universal Design in Learning. Click link to read about it.

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