Having returned fresh from the Learning on Screen Awards 2012, I was interested to see one particular video making technique was getting considerable attention … the use of the visual metaphor. In an age where everyone is making video, it strikes me that many only record the things they can see and experience. The use of a visual metaphor however does not fixate on what is seen but instead, tries to give appreciation to the things we can’t see or comprehend easily in their natural form.
A fantastic example of a visual metaphor was presented by Prof. Lord Robert Winston at the Awards evening, where he constructed a bridge from individual ropes to cross a gorge.
The video contrasted the immense effort required to place the initial rope to the ease of walking across the final bridge. The metaphor was to illustrate the effort of making and reinforcing connections in the brain when learning and the ease with which we can do difficult things when suitably practiced.
Metaphors in themselves are a fantastic tool to get the learner to think laterally when incorporating new ideas into their existing body of knowledge. From the perspective of the teacher, metaphor affords us new and interesting options that can bring freshness to the stale repetition that we can find when delivering the same old material. As we saw at “Learning on Screen” the combination of metaphor and video can make for compelling innovative resources.
The reason video’s overwhelming ubiquity is so exciting to me is not that we have all arrived but that we have in many ways only just started. Day by day I am astounded by the advances in technology and we really do have serious video making tools even at the entry level. The challenge is to start to think more creatively about video, appreciate the full palette of techniques available and not be content to squander the richness of visual language by repeating a one word vocabulary.