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I Apps for Visual Learning

Page history last edited by Mike King 13 years, 11 months ago


I Apps for Visual Learning

Visual learning is one of the three sensory learning methods that can be applied to an instructional plan, along with auditory and kinesthetic. Visual learning is a modality of learning and relates to the one elemental way in which an individual can gain information from their environment. The visual cortex of the brain is larger than all of the other sensory cortexes of the brain put together. The eye is the most robust organ and absorbs seventy percent of the brains sensory reception. In one blink of an eye  millions of light signals are transported through the optic nerves to the visual processing centers of the brain.


Secondly, students have grown up in a media based culture. According to Tapscott the author of Growing Up Digital states that the Net Generation have learned to read images through digital immersion and have increased their ability to speed up their visual reflexes through gaming.(p.106) This is only one of the reasons why the use of visual images needs to be a large part of the teaching practice. One solution in keeping a student's highly engaged in learning process would be to introduce them to digital learning tools that are designed for visual experiences. These digital learning tools could include thinking pictures, interactive notebooks, guided imagery, and visual organizers. In the following section you will be exposed to a few of these digital tools as they are related to I-apps that support visual learning.


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Mind Mapping

Students are constantly faced with taking classroom notes by writing them down line by line.  Unfortunately the brains visual system does not accommodate or store information in neat horizontal lines. According to British research psychologist, Tony Buzan, the brain's visual system transfers signals to the brain and stores the information by forming  branch like connections.  These information forming webs are referred to as dendrites and look like branches on a tree.  Dendrite formations in the brain are primarily responsible for stores of information and as a result, form patterns from visual associations. These patterns, formed through visual images, are the primary source for the formation of mental imprints that are directly associated with memory retention.


So why do we constantly have students take notes in horizontal form when their memory system is built for visual interpretation made out in branches?  Instead of having students take notes by writing them down have them use a mind map. The use of mind maps can support skill development by outlining content with related pictures, highlighted with colorful connections and symbolized with patterns of associations. Mind maps that have been developed for I Pad could be one way to show students how to learn visually through context association. In this section of visual learning a synopsis of the different types of mind map applications made for I pad will be reviewed as to their usefulness in helping students retain and organize visual information.

Popplet Education Application for I Pad

The first mind mapping tool on the list is Popplet. Popplet was constructed for the purpose of collecting and curetting ideas into a visual space where relationships to ideas can be formed or generated. The application provides a container called a Popple. The popple container is designed to hold various media related images such as photos, drawings and text to help the learner or idea creator make visual associations with a concept through objects. This application fits the criteria as a high engaging learning tool and can be easily integrated into the classroom  for daily use. It is recommended that students first use their note pad and then simulate the mind map Popplet as a reinforcement in tying together multiple concepts.


Recomended Instructional Techniques 

Teachers should use scaffolding instructional techniques at the onset of concept development when using the popplet application. Scaffolding is a instructional technique that breaks down a complex task into easier, more "doable" steps. Demonstrating the scaffolding process through  the uses mind mapping applications at the onset of concept development will set the expectations for the map design. This will also give students time to sort through the depth of knowledge needed to make branch like connections to the main theme of the lesson.


There is a light free download version of Popplet that can be explored before using it in the classroom. You may want to check with the developer Notion, Inc on educational licensing. The free version does have its one time use limitations. If anyone knows about obtaining license agreements pleas post a response.


  • App Name: Popplet for iPad
  • Developer: Notion, Inc.
  • Version used for this review: 1.0.0
  • Price when reviewed: $8.99
  • A Free App is Available
  • Educational Tool Rating = 4 out of 5

PC & Computer Software Guides:
Popplet - Great Tool On The Ipad 

i Pad Apps for Mind Mapping


I Conn

App Title




Moodboard Lite  




Moodboard Pro

Mood boarding is used to organize ideas and inspiration in the early stages of concept development. Moodboard will help students organize thoughts through visual representation.







Idea Sketch 

Students can use Idea Sketch for brainstorming new ideas, illustrating concepts, making lists and outlines, and planning presentations.



SimpleMind Xpress

SimpleMind eXpress is a FREE mind mapping tool that turns the iPad touch into a brainstorming, idea collection and thought structuring device.



Resources in Graphic Organizers 

  • Help students classify ideas and communicate more effectively. Use graphic organizers to structure writing projects, help students in problem solving, decision making, studying, planning research and brainstorming. Select a Graphic Organizer from Education Place


  • At Education Oasis you will find 58 graphic organizers. They are PDFs. You will need an Adobe Reader to view and print them.


  • Teacher Vision offers a collection of ready-to-use graphic organizers that are designed to help students classify ideas and communicate more effectively. All of Teacher Visions free, printable graphic organizers are designed to facilitate understanding of key concepts by allowing students to visually identify key points and ideas. By using graphic organizers across all subject areas, teachers can empower students to master subject-matter faster and more efficiently. They have graphic organizers for reading, science, writing, math, and for general use. 


  • The best source for finding graphic organizer links can be found at, Graphic Organizer Links. At Graphic Organizer links you can many other teaching resource tools such as, lesson plans, thematic units, and technology resources.






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