Conventional simulators and online instructional methods fall short in delivering higher order learning. By utilizing direct manipulation with real-time feedback, a learner can better synthesize cause and effect relationships, thus bridging the gap between abstract concepts and the theory behind those concepts..
Studies have shown that human beings acquire more information through vision than all the other senses combined. Visualization and mind tools provide the ability to translate our mental images into rough, tangible, and digital representations of those images, so that we can better understand our thoughts and more actively engage in the development and exploration process of what we are learning and why we are learning it.
However, visualization tools alone can’t promote higher order thinking, problem solving and analytical skills based on the learner’s unique mental vision and experiences. according to studies and research on cognitive tool’s impact in education, when computer technologies are used as the primary source of acquiring information, the learner can actually develop deficiencies in critical thinking and learning skills, making them passive learners.
To engage students in critical thinking and improve higher order learning, this paper proposes building a customized application as a visual, mental model through direct manipulation and interaction with a virtual digital camera for online beginning photography classes. By allowing the learner to manipulate the virtual settings and dials and instantly see changes and results on an image, the student can visually and directly learn about abstract technical photography concepts, such as film, shutter and aperture settings, helping them to immediately establish a relationship between how the interaction of these settings can affect the overall image.
What makes this application a more powerful learning tool than standalone applications or traditional online textual lessons is that through direct manipulation providing immediate visual feedback, the learner can instantly bridge the gap between abstract technical photography concepts and the theory behind those concepts.
Furthermore, through “ self directed learning,” students can actively engage in interpreting, analyzing and acquiring new knowledge, which helps to promote understanding and allows them to communicate more clearly their unique mental vision through photographs.