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The Visual Turn and the Transformation of the Textbook

James Andrew LaSpina



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Routledge Member of the Taylor and Francis Group
01 April 1998
Educational psychology; Educational equipment & technology, computer-aided learning (CAL); Impact of science & technology on society; Ethical & social aspects of computing
Most of the important work which has appeared in the past two decades in the curriculum field has been about the culture of the text. A rich literature has evolved around this, the traditional object of instructional activity. However, even the best of this work has largely focused on the textbook after it has been produced, adopted and entered the classroom. In this work, the social studies textbook in particular has held a special symbolic place. More often than not, it has been looked upon as a cultural commodity maintaining various discourses of power, ideology and social reproduction. An addition to the literature, this book does not look at the text-content of the printed matter. It focuses on the actual making of a textbook and how the design process which constructs the visible form of the book not only shapes textual content, but also suggests new paradigms of learning and instruction appropriate to the emerging digital culture of visual communication. The Visual Turn focuses on the most innovative social studies textbook programme of the last decade - the Houghton Mifflin K-8 series - and positions the information design of these books as a path-breaking marker dealing with pedagogical issues beyond the textbook. LaSpina questions whether the emerging digital multimedia culture of the Internet is transforming the textbook or forever displacing it. He discusses how this new medium of transmission has entered the classroom and is radically changing the instructional balance. The textbook is now caught up in a dialogue with the electronic presence of the computer interface. LaSpina then explains how this dialogue is reshaping the textual boundaries of the book, and with it the traditional modes of cognition and learning that are bound more to language than visual form. With the computer, traditional textbook content enters an expanded electronic field in which text content is but one component in a multi-dimensional information space. This book, then, is an exploration along the borders of this new learning space. Twelve full and half-page charts, diagrams and tables, and 45 black-and-white full and half-page illustrations and photographs in this volume reconstruct the making of a textbook and demonstrate how the graphic design of visual information structures and informs textual content.
By:   James Andrew LaSpina
Imprint:   Routledge Member of the Taylor and Francis Group
Country of Publication:   United States
Dimensions:   Height: 229mm,  Width: 152mm,  Spine: 24mm
Weight:   612g
ISBN:   9780805827019
ISBN 10:   0805827013
Pages:   280
Publication Date:   01 April 1998
Audience:   Professional and scholarly ,  Undergraduate
Format:   Hardback
Publisher's Status:   Active

Reviews for The Visual Turn and the Transformation of the Textbook

...this is a thought-provoking book, and the questions it rises merit careful consideration and further research attention. -British Journal of Educational Psychology The first book I know of that tries to show the transition from the modern to the postmodern textbook. The basic idea of going at how the computer is transforming the textbook and our modes of literacy is very interesting and important. -Eugene F. Provenzo, Jr. University of Miami ...Interesting on several levels. The [Houghton Mifflin K-8 social studies textbook series] around which the author wraps his book has generated a good deal of drama....LaSpina recognizes these aspects of the text's publication and selection in California and the subsequent controversy, then shifts the reader's focus away from the politics of publication to the 'visual turn' of the text....A one-of-a-kind book... -Linda S. Levstik University of Kentucky

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