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Hyper Visual Culture: Implications for Open Distance Learning at Teacher Education Level

Dairai D. Dziwa


Many printed and electronic texts to date abound with visual information purportedly integrated to enrich the learning experience of the readers. The world today is inundated with images. Thus, consciously or unconsciously, visual learning is becoming prominent in every learning situation and inevitably in the print-based open distance learning model (ODL) in teacher education. In this paper I argue that there is no proportionate growth between the use of visual language and visual semiotics competences for open distance learning at teacher education level in Zimbabwe. This paper is based on empirical findings from a gender critical visual narrative study conducted in Zimbabwe with 20 teacher education students. Prompts in conjunction with focus group discussions were used to solicit participants to exhibit how gender perspectives were interpreted through the encoding and decoding of visual displays. The results showed that the images actually exhibited gendered data, particularly critical social themes such as gender violence, fights for equal rights and gender oppression reversals in addition to the predictable patriarchal, masculine, hegemonic themes identified. The study therefore concluded that exposing the student teachers to visual pedagogy during ODL without the pre-requisite visual interpretation skill is disastrous, ineffective and time wasting. Learning becomes divorced from the world in which the learner lives. The paper therefore puts forward some guidelines for the adoption of visual pedagogy and recommendations to expose the teacher education students to the visual grammar and semiotic skills necessary for visual analysis.

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