Two professors from UMW and a first-year art teacher from Stafford County explored using visuals with students. They focused on what makes visuals effective and how they can be used effectively in the classroom.
The art teacher discussed elements and principles of design (emphasis, balance, movement, pattern, and unity) in art and in other visuals. She illustrated each element with a piece of artwork and then compared it to a visual by Edward Tufte (https://www.edwardtufte.com/tufte/). It's too complicated to even begin to explain briefly, but it gave me a new lens through which to look at the visuals I use with my students.
One of the professors spent some time sharing ways to use visuals in literacy. I did not find that she had anything truly groundbreaking to share, but I was impressed with the way she worded things for students and scaffolded. She used pictures (by Mary Cassat and Jerry Pinkney, among others) to look for the main idea and to help students begin to look for evidence to back up their thinking.