“Visual Pedagogies” Book Launch


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Come and get inspired by the ideas on how to implement elements of visual pedagogies in university education

Two events, on November 16th and 22nd, are organized to launch newly published book “Visual Pedagogies in Higher Education: Between Theory and Practice” which I edited. Each event will start with a short overview of the book (by me) and will follow by the introductions to four chapters (by the contributors). There will be time for questions, exchange of ideas and discussion.

You are welcome to attend both events or to choose one, based on your schedule and interest. Sign up HERE to get the Zoom link.

On 16th November at 2:00 – 3:00pm (EET / UTC+2) we will hear introductions to the following chapters:

  • As Visual as Possible: The Pedagogy of Visual Research Methods in a Finnish University (by Joanna Kędra and Rasa Žakevičiūtė)
  • Discipline-Led Thinking through Cultural Collections and Art (by Olivia Meehan)
  • Photomedia Literacy in Ruins? Student Attitudes toward Digital and Analog Photomedia When Creating an Archive for the Future (by Gary McLeod and Tad Hara)
  • Learner-Generated Video: Video Creation Process for Developing Visual Competencies (by Pınar Nuhoğlu Kibar)

On 22nd November at 3:00 – 4:00pm (EET / UTC+2) we will hear introductions to the following chapters:

  • Teaching Photography Theory to Art Students: Three Case Studies (by Marianna Michałowska)
  • Using Visual Art Practices to Enhance Educators’ Professional Growth (by Karen F. Tardrew)
  • How Drawing Enhances Learning for Business Students (by Iryna Molodecky)
  • The Use of Freehand Drawing as a Means of Teaching Research Methods in a Business School (by Gyuzel Gadelshina)

Book: Visual Pedagogies in Higher Education


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My edited book “Visual Pedagogies in Higher Education: Between Theory and Practice” is already in the production process! The publication date is set up for October/November 2022, so very soon. It has been a great learning process for me and I am grateful to all contributors who make it possible to open the topic of visual pedagogies from so many different perspectives.

And here comes the table of contents for this volume:

Introduction: Visual Pedagogies in Higher Education
Joanna Kędra
Part I:Visual Pedagogies in Research Methods Courses
Chapter 1As Visual as Possible: The Pedagogy of Visual Research Methods in a Finnish University
Joanna Kędra and Rasa Zakeviciute
Part II:Visual Pedagogies in Business Studies
Chapter 2How Drawing Enhances Learning for Business Students
Iryna Molodecky
Chapter 3The Use of Freehand Drawings as a Means of Teaching Research Methods in a Business School
Gyuzel Gadelshina, Rob Wilson, Paul Richter and McKenzie Lloyd-Smith
Part III:Visual Pedagogies and Object-Based Learning
Chapter 4Discipline-led Thinking Through Cultural Collections and Art
Olivia Meehan
Part IV:Visual Pedagogies in Photography Education
Chapter 5Photomedia Literacy in Ruins? Student Attitudes toward Digital and Analogue Photomedia when Creating an Archive for the Future
Gary McLeod and Tad Hara
Chapter 6Teaching Photography Theory to Art Students — Three Case Studies
Marianna Michałowska
Part V:Visual Pedagogies in Teacher Education
Chapter 7Learner-Generated Video: Video Creation Process for Developing Visual Competencies
Pınar Nuhoğlu Kibar
Chapter 8Using Visual Art Practices to Enhance Educators’ Professional Growth
Karen F. Tardrew
Concluding Note: Measuring Success in Visual Pedagogies
Joanna Kędra

IVLA 2022 Conference in Jyväskylä (10-12 August)



The IVLA 2022 Conference is just a week ahead. I am so grateful to the whole local organizing team – I would not be able to make it without Terhi Paakkinen, Judit Hahn, Rasa Zakeviciute and Anne Pitkänen-Huhta. I have learnt a lot during this time, both the good and the bad about organizing a conference. I hope that the attendees, both onsite and online, will enjoy the event and get as much as possible from it.

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Honored with the 2021 IVLA Research Award


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This year International Visual Literacy Association (IVLA) annual conference (4-6 November 2021) came with a surprise to me – I received the IVLA Research Award! It was presented to me in recognition of my active involvement in outstanding research that furthers the cause of visual literacy and my achievement in advancing knowledge within the field.

As it stays in the award description, it is given only when merited, to members of the Association who are actively involved in on-going outstanding research that furthers the cause of visual literacy, who have achieved a substantial, record of scholarly publication, and who have significantly advanced knowledge within the field.

I am very honored with this recognition of my research work. It truly motivates me to continue with research and pedagogical projects related to visual literacy in a higher education context. I also hope that my hope institution, University of Jyväskylä, will finally acknowledge the importance of cross-disciplinary visual education and I will have a chance to develop this area further.

And here is some information from the press release about the award:

Joanna Kędra was nominated for the Research Award for her heavy involvement in bringing consistency to how the term visual literacy is used within scholarship and her ability to arrive at concrete goals for the field of visual literacy through her own scholarly work. Kędra’s visual literacy scholarship within the last three years has resulted in editing a special issue of the Journal of Visual Literacy and a forthcoming book on visual literacy in education. These are just two examples of Kędra’s accomplishments within the field of visual literacy but there are many more. Gary McLeod, Kędra’s nominator and Assistant Professor of Photomedia and Visual Design at the University of Tsukua, Japan wrote that Kędra’s work is, “vital for future generations to identify and manage visual bias regardless of whether they are ‘reading’ images, making them, or even thinking in terms of visuals. It is difficult to imagine the current picture of VL studies without her contributions”. Joanna Kędra is one of ten people to be awarded the Research Award since its inception in 1989.

We are hosting the IVLA 2022 conference in Jyväskylä!


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The 54th Annual Conference of the International Visual Literacy Association (IVLA) will be organized at the University of Jyväskylä, Finland on 10-12 August 2022. It will be hosted by the Department of Language and Communication Studies in the Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences in collaboration with the MultiLEAP (Multiliteracies for social participation and learning across the life span) profiling area of the University of Jyväskylä.

I am in charge of chairing the Local Organizing Committee. The call will be out in January 2022. Here is an overview of the conference theme (from almost ready CFP):

Connecting & Sharing – Envisioning the Futures of Visual Literacy

The past two years of ongoing restrictions caused by the worldwide pandemic have shown the importance of the visual in the everyday. Our lives have become more visual than ever before – from intense visual-sharing practices with relatives and friends, video conferencing and online education, to the visual presence of pandemic contexts in cityscapes, artistic practices in local communities, media feeds including charts and graphs, and creation of remixed images as a commentary to the crises. It has become clear that we increasingly need visual literacy in terms of image creation, reception and visual thinking. Therefore, in these current unpredictable (visual) times, we aim for the impossible – to envision the futures of visual literacy.
We invite scholars, educators, students, and practitioners from all over the world to discuss theoretical insights and to share research, artistic, and educational practices around the concept of visual literacy and/or in dialogue with multimodality, multi-sensory experiences and multiliteracies. The concept of visual literacy has been used for over five decades in education, art, museum studies, information design, photography, and new literacies research, but currently we have reached the point when we need to (re)build and (re)discover the (new) connections between the variety of theories, disciplinary traditions and educational practices in visual literacy and beyond.

The view on the Jyväsjärvi Lake in the center of Jyväskylä with Ylistönrinne Campus in the background (photo source: Jyväskylän kaupunki promotional materials).

Chairing the ECREA Visual Cultures Section


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What motivates me at most in my academic work (and truly, motivation is really something that keeps raising my enthusiasm to what I do) is the peer-support and the kind of collegial and friendship atmosphere in doing something together. This is why, I have always liked to be a part of academic international communities, gathered in various thematic associations.

One of such groups is the ECREA Visual Cultures Section, formed together with colleagues that I know from various different contexts. This has been a place – or actually the people – from whom I could always get constructive feedback. Our discussions have been always enriching. From this day on, together with Dr. Patricia Prieto-Blanco (Lecturer in Digital Media Practice in the Sociology Department at Lancaster, UK) and Dr. Maria Schreiber (Postdoctoral Researcher at the Department of Communications at the University of Salzburg, Austria) I am taking a lead as a Chair of the ECREA Visual Cultures Section. We would like to continue the work that the previous chairs, Prof. Asko Lehmuskallio and Prof. Paolo Favero established in the Section, but we also want to add new. Foremost, however, we want to keep this Section as a place open for constructive discussions about and through the visual from many disciplinary angles.

Growing up with your students


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I think that the most rewording aspect in teaching is my own learning, together with students. Such learning occurs on various levels — from the course planning and preparation of the learning materials and throughout the teaching process in the classroom. Due to the nature of the subject that I teach, that is, visual communication and the interpretation of the visual, there is always something new to discover together with students, even using the same image or the same activity in several courses. It is so fascinating that while teaching with and about visuals, you can never get bored.

If you would need to describe this course in three words, what would they be? – students’ course evaluation in a form of a word-cloud.

Just yesterday, I had the last class of an intensive one-week summer school course in visual communication, which I was co-teaching with my colleague, Rasa Zakeviciute. This was the first time we were teaching together in an online environment. What is more, we not only designed a completely new course, but we also designed it especially for an online teaching mode. In this sense, we were more lucky than many of our colleagues, who, under pressure of time (and often without sufficient knowledge and experience) moved their face-to-face courses online. We could plan the course from the start as a fully online experience.

We had two main goals when we were planning the ‘Visual Communication as a Way to Improve Working Life Skills’ course. The first one, built on the approach we have already implemented in the ‘Visual Research Methods’ courses, that is of visual pedagogy. The other was to create a balance between synchronous and asynchronous teaching, that is, to constantly keep in mind that we are planning an online course, not a face-to-face one (an aspect of which many teachers do not think). For that reason, students received all the learning material in a form of video-lectures, other videos and readings as well as individual assignments and group work. Thus, the two-hour online classes per day could have been devoted solely to activities and discussions, based on the learning material (which students could have explored beforehand in their own peace). That kind of approach can especially benefit students of various linguistic backgrounds (they can use dictionaries, or listen to lectures several times), from different geographical locations (we worked between time-zones of 8 or even 11 hours of time difference) and busy with other commitments (they can schedule their study time).

In this course, we had a really great group of students. It was so rewarding to work with all of them. Their ideas and ‘ways of seeing’ enriched my experience as a teacher and visual scholar. We also had fun all together in the course. The online teaching is any worse from the face-to-face classroom. Actually, when well planned (and with an intention for good online teaching), it can be a truly rewarding learning experience, both for students and for their teachers.

Seeing an online teaching as a place to growth (as a teacher)


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Photo by Emmanuel Mbala on Unsplash

I am in a privileged position: I was not under (pandemic) emergency to move my teaching online (mostly due to the fact that I have been teaching on an hourly basis). Thus, I have had time to plan and prepare, or even more — to first educate myself in pedagogies for online and blended learning and teaching. One of such courses that I have recently participated in was the Open Networked Learning (ONL211) — an international open course on e-learning in higher education. My good friend, Dr. Judit Hahn, recommended me this course as she herself completed it earlier.

Since the beginning, I have had rather mixed feelings about it. This was mostly due to the pedagogical approach, on which the course was designed, that is, the problem based learning — approach, which was completely new to me. For each two weeks, following a specific topic related to online education, we were confronted (i.e., eight learners and two facilitators) with a scenario, based on which we created our learning. In addition, once per week there was a lecture or workshop by na expert, organized to support our thinking within the given topic.

At first, I did not like a relatively unstructured way of learning — a learning that each group and each individual learner have had to create. However, the longer the course lasted, the more I have been enjoying being my own facilitator of learning, taking agency with peer-learners in the process. I must admit, I have always been rather skeptical to asynchronous online courses, not really experiencing learning in such contexts. However, my main take-away from the ONL is that learning, indeed, can happen in such format if only the course is well-designed and if learners are sufficiently motivated. Our motivation as learners was high. Thus, I think that as a teacher in online environment, I should even more work on the course design, because I may not always be able to influence students’ motivation.

The topics that I explored during the ONL course helped me to see that there is a lot of potential in online education. Challenging is, however, to come out of one’s comfort zone in order to see this potential and to learn as a teacher. Still, isn’t it that we should constantly develop our skills as teacher and broaden knowledge?

Designing for a meaningful (5-day) online learning experience


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Currently, I am planning an online 5-days intensive course for the summer school. This is not an emergency, ad hoc transmission to the online environment as many of my colleagues have experienced with their regular courses last year (tough, the summer school has always been organized in my institution as face-to-face teaching throughout four weeks, with one course per week).

Photo by Duncan Kidd on Unsplash

Considering the fact that, in principle, I have more time for planning, I wanted to create a truly “online learning experience”. However, almost immediately came the first obstacle — students who signed up for the course are coming from the very different time zones, which makes it impossible to bring all of them together at the same time. Thus, we decided with my colleague (with whom I will be teaching this course) to have two, the same, synchronous classes for each of the “time-zone group”. All other activities will be taught asynchronously, and thus, they have to be designed to enhance students’ engagement in the learning process. At the moment, we think about one overall scenario for the course (like a game, in which you collect scores) and a number of group activities leading to a group project, all supported by learning material packages per specific topics.

Blended learning is not only about blending online and offline teaching, but it also means to blend various forms of teaching — and I prefer to understand it this way. In an online course, the teacher acts as a facilitator of learning, who helps students to navigate between synchronous and asynchronous activities, guiding the learning process. Until this summer school course, I have not realized that planning an online course (especially in its intense format) is much more demanding than planning a face-to-face teaching. I am thinking here, of course, about a meaningful learning experience, when students are truly engaged in the course material in various ways (games, group collaboration, scenarios, projects, etc.). In his lecture, Steven Mintz (2021) points out that students learn when they are mentally involved, when they are engaged in hands-on activities, when they are in the process of discovery, investigation, interpretation. In a similar vein, Marti Cleveland-Innes (2021) highlights that students who are given choices (in terms of the learning material, activities, forms of assessment), perceive that they are making contribution to their learning environment and this increases engagement.

The more I read about the design of online and blended learning, the more I get fascinated about possibilities it offers for students. However, will I be able to implement some of them in an intensive format of the summer school, considering the obstacles of time zones and limited time for students’ reflection on their learning process?


Cleveland-Innes, M. (2021). Blended and online teaching and learning: Identifying pedagogical change in higher education. ONL211 topic 4 Intro video (9:35 min). Video on YouTube

Mintz, S. (2021). How to Design a Course for Maximum Student Engagement: Seven Innovative Approaches. Webinar presentation (60 min) Recording

Community and collaborative learning in an online classroom


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How to design an online course is such a way that it leads to the meaningful learning process for students? And how to make this process collaborative? — By collaboration, I mean here a truly engaging work throughout the course, not just a group work assigned to students.

I think that it all should start from making a distinction between two pairs of words, often misinterpreted: cooperation vs. collaboration and group vs. community. The first pair, cooperation and collaboration, are often used interchangeably in academic context, both in teaching and in research. I would say that collaboration is more meaningful, and thus, it requires more effort from all collaborating parties. In pedagogical practice, this can be a collaboration between teachers (challenging, but rewording) and collaboration between teacher(s) and students as well as among students. In the last case, a semantic distinction between group and community also comes to the forefront: in a group work, students need to, at least, cooperate, but in order to create a (learning) community —they need to collaborate.

How can the teacher help students to create a learning community and enhance learning collaboration? First of all, the course has to be designed around the idea of peer-learning, not simply as a (number of) group works with the divisions of tasks. The most efficiently, we learn from each other, because our human nature is social. However, in order for students to learn together, they need motivation and encouragement. Both of these can and should be generated and strengthened by a good facilitator of learning, namely, the teacher.

Finally, the aspect that requires the most re-thinking is assessment. In a community collaborative learning, there is a need to look at both the result and the process of learning. For the purpose to assess a result — a rubric can be created; but assessing a learning process is more challenging. An ideal option will be to collect peer-feedback and students’ individual summative assessment of their learning. However, if students are not used to such forms, but are more familiar with exams or course essays, their reflection on the learning process may not be that meaningful. And yes, now I am coming to the key point: reflection as a learning tool. I am still discovering it, both as a teacher and as a student, a long-life learner. I have experienced it in its various forms, including student’s learning diary, teacher’s reflective diary, a blog post, and a reflection on my teaching practices through analysis of my video-recorded classes. Thus, I also know how difficult it is to reflect on one’s own learning. However, the more conscious we are about our own learning, the more effective a community learning process can be — and so the collaboration will be more productive, when learners are more conscious about their learning goals.