Comparing Written & Graphic Presentations of Information

Instructor: Matt Lamb

Matt has tutored for six years now, in a variety of subjects including reading, essay writing, chemistry, and theology. He is finishing his M.A. in Political Science this August.

In this lesson we will discuss different formats for conveying information, including photos, videos, slideshows, and standard text format. Specifically, we will focus on the pros and cons of each for conveying information on social sciences topics.

Methods Of Conveying Information

Imagine you are a teacher, an older sibling, or perhaps even a parent. Someone asks you to explain how the legislative process in Congress works because they are studying for a test on the Constitution. How do you even get started explaining this to them? In this lesson, we will look at several different formats for conveying information. As technology evolves, so does the classroom, meaning it is now easier than ever to move beyond standard written textbooks only. Some alternative formats include photos, videos, and slideshows. Below, we will explore the pros and cons of each.

Photos

Photos can be an excellent way to convey information. In this example, we will look at how we can use photography to explain how the legislative process works. First, we can use photos to create a graphic. Perhaps the graphic illustrates the different steps through images of a piece of legislation being written, a Senator speaking in favor of the bill, and a photo of the vote count on the legislation. Photos allow the student you are helping to see the different steps of the process.

Governor Mark Dayton signs a piece of legislation.
Mark Dayton

However, photos do have some downsides. For one, they often require someone explaining the process that goes along with each picture. For example, it is hard to tell if someone sitting at a desk is writing a bill, reading an article, or even coloring coloring books! However, since many students learn from visual examples, photos are a good tool to use.

Videos

Videos can be a great way to illustrate the legislative process. Since C-SPAN came onto the cable network, the average citizen can now watch the legislative process in action. For example, you can watch hearings on legislation where experts on issues make the case for or against legislation. You can then watch a debate unfold on the Senate or House floor over the merits of this very same bill. Finally, you can witness the Speaker of the House or the clerk of the Senate announcing the final vote tally and whether or not the bill passed.

Senator Bernie Standers comments on a piece of legislation.
Senator Bernie Sanders

Videos work well in explaining a process such as a bill being passed. However, they can also be distracting, and conversely, students can get distracted if the video is not engaging enough. Unlike a teacher presenting material on a slideshow or reading from a textbook, a video cannot react to how students react or ask and answer student questions.

Slideshows

There are many great slideshow presentation tools available with different software or e-mail addresses. For now we will consider an online slideshow. While old school slideshows could be potentially dull, computer slideshows can integrate photos, videos, and special graphics in order to convey information. Similarly, they can also include constant quizzing, so students can test their knowledge of a topic. A slideshow for the legislative process could integrate background text explaining the process, as well as photos and videos of legislation in action.

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