As projection and printing technology continue to improve, the use of visual aids in the classroom becomes more robust and easier to implement. Whether or not it's always best to use these technologies is a matter of contention. Though some feel strongly on both sides of the debate, most teachers can agree that visual aids are advisable in some situations and less appropriate in others.
A Picture is Worth...
A picture can evoke emotion, curiosity or interest in a way simple words cannot. Students become more involved in their lessons if they can see a picture or film about a subject rather than simply hearing or reading about it.
Visual aids can quickly and efficiently demonstrate ideas that are difficult to explain verbally. Many core math, science and art concepts can only be effectively taught by showing students as well as, or instead of, simply telling them.
Multiple Learning Modes
All students lean towards audio, visual or kinesthetic learning as their chief learning mode. However, demonstrating concepts using two or more learning modes helps all students record and recall the information better. Explaining a concept while showing a visual aid does just that.
Visual aids run the risk of giving the student too much. Imagining what something might look like engages more parts of the brain than simply seeing a picture. By spoon-feeding the students all the information they want, we run the risk of turning students into passive consumers rather than active participants.
Preparing visual aids can be time consuming, taking valuable energy away from other aspects of lesson planning. Likewise, many visual aids can be expensive. Purchasing them can take away funds from other programs.
If a visual aid relies on a technological device, teachers using that aid run the risk of technical failure or even failure of their own technical knowledge. Simple verbal instruction or reading lessons don't fail due to technical difficulties.