Center for the Enhancement of Learning and Teaching

Visual Thinking

Derek Bruff is Director of the Center for Teaching at Vanderbilt University. To learn more about Visual Thinking and learning with and about visuals, go to Derek’s beautifully presented blog, Agile Learning.

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Concept maps

Concept maps are visual representations of the structure of knowledge. Concept Maps at the Beginning, Middle, and End, discusses the use of concept maps in a physics class at different points in the semester, as pre-tests, learning activities, and assessment tools. Having students construct concept maps is one way to help them develop and evaluate the mental frameworks they need in order to move beyond rote recitation of knowledge. You might also like Derek's "Big Picture Presentation" available online.

Idea Sketch is a concept matching app available for the iPad, reviewed at the Faculty Focus blog in April 2012. and Popplet are two other free and easy to use concept mapping tools.

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Data Visualization

Nathan Yau’s mission is to “make data available and useful to those who aren’t data experts.” His web site, FlowingData, provides tutorials that show you how to create data visualizations. For example, Nathan offers a tutorial on how to visualize and compare distributions using a data set that he provides and the free software “R”.

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PowerPoint Best Practices

This handout, prepared by Destiny Aman for the Schreyer Institute for Teaching Excellence at Penn State, succinctly illustrates and explains the principles behind designing PowerPoint slides that will most effectively support your lecture.

Learn the basics of PowerPoint at’s PowerPoint 2010 Essential Training. Use the special yellow button on the IT Services Web Training page to access Lynda for free on campus.

The Incredible, Accessible Presentation by Glenna Shaw and its companion Adding Captions, Annotations and/or Subtitles provide detailed step by step instructions for making the PowerPoints that you post online accessible to anyone with disabilities. Embedded within these pages are links to useful tools such as PowerTalk which lets you hear how a screen reader will read your file. (Use with PPT 2000 or higher.) Other accessibility resources are available at the Office of Institutional Equity Web Accessibility Resources page.

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