Visualization, Connections, and Higher Order Thinking – a Guest Blog Post by Laura Gatto

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“If you understand something in only one way, then you don’t really understand it at all. The secret of what anything means to us depends on how we’ve connected it to all other things we know.” – AI researcher Marvin Minsky

Many of you may use the technique of visualizing or using metaphors to help remember peoples names, personal responsibilities or even your grocery list.  It’s a powerful way to learn.  You can actually strengthen the cognitive pathways associated with subject matter through making many connections to the material through many avenues.  A novice adult and a novice child have many similarities in processing and in instructional needs.

Just think about how having the ability to follow hyperlinks as you are web-surfing has enriched your experience learning something new.  That cross-linking of content for multiple interpretations serves to deepen your understanding of whatever subject it is you are interested in.

Learning through rote memorization is the opposite of learning through connections.  Rote memorization involves learning through repeated exposure.  That’s great for some things, but it rarely produces the kind of high order critical thinking skills that we associate with extraordinary mental abilities.

At BrainPOP, we are hopeful our visual and engaging animations and games model integrated, connection rich thinking.  By creating animations and videos our goal is to contribute, in some small way, to nurture a future citizenry of life long learners!

Laura Gatto is currently a M.A. Candidate in the DMDL Instructional Design program at New York University’s Steinhardt School. She also advises for BrainPOP’s games department.