Promoting Visual Literacy with Haiku Deck – Guest Post

Update: Haiku Deck is now available as a web app and as an iPad app. 

“We live and work in a visually sophisticated world, so we must be sophisticated in using all the forms of communication, not just the written word.” ~George Lucas in Edutopia

As access to the creation and consumption of digital media increases, educators must embrace an expanded view of literacy. Teaching the skills of reading and writing is no longer enough. Students need to be able to use images as a currency for exchanging feelings, stories, and opinions with the world at large.

Further, as scientists learn more about how our brains work, it appears that many learners are hardwired to understand visually depicted ideas. Recent research from National Academies Press reminds us that using words and pictures (as compared to words alone) boosts generative processing which leads to lasting learning.

So… maybe a picture is not worth a thousand words. Perhaps a picture is worth a thousand ideas?

Recently, I’ve been trying out Haiku Deck as a teacher and a learner. Essentially, I’m telling stories through images.

If you haven’t used Haiku Deck before, it’s a free iPad app that makes beautiful slide presentations. You can only fit a word several words or a phrase on each slide, forcing you to communicate primarily through images. The constraints of the app actually promote visually literate presentations.

With Haiku Deck, you can upload your own photos or search their large gallery of images with Creative Commons licenses for non-commercial reuse. Their gallery is a powerful tool, and my students this semester have really enjoyed the high quality selection!

Once you’ve finished creating your masterpiece, it’s easy to spread your message digitally. You can share your slides on your social media networks, embed your slides on your blog, or download your slides for offline use.

Here’s a short slide deck that I created using Haiku Deck:
Created with Haiku Deck, the free presentation app for iPad

If you are an iPad user, be sure to check out Haiku Deck. It’s a great way to share your story through beautiful, impactful pictures!

Kristen Swanson is a learner, leader, author, and teacher. She works alongside Grant Wiggins to help teachers use Understanding by Design. Kristen recently published Professional Learning in the Digital Age: An Educator’s Guide to User Generated Learning. Kristen is one of the original founders of the Edcamp movement, and she is also a Google Certified Teacher. You can find Kristen online at


Thank You Readers for 14 Amazing Years!