visual literacy

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What is Visual Literacy?

There is no agreed single definition of visual literacy. The selection of citations below show both the diversity and the commonalities within the concept.

What should teachers know about visual literacy?

The scope of visual literacy in education now extends beyond illustrative content, symbols, diagrams and charts to encompass drawing and painting, moving images, animations and multimodal media.

Why is the History of Visual learning important for teachers?

Studying the  history of visual learning provides some fundamental background knowledge and understanding that is relevant to, and has a practical application in today's schools and learning environments.

Images and visual cues have always been used to support learning. These date back to the earliest days of mankind. Visual learning has always been closely linked to technology, whether that be images made on prehistoric walls or those created using the latest digital technologies.

Why is an understanding of Visual Literacy important?

Visual literacy is an essential ‘literacy’ for teachers, and one they should be actively exploring and encouraging and helping  their learners develop. Digital platforms, tools and environments have become ubiquitous  and it can be argued that visual literacy is very closely linked to digital literacy. These inextricable links between the digital and the visual, affect education as much as any other aspect of our lives.

What would a visually literate teacher or learner know?

Visually literate teachers and learners understand that:

  • images are made with a specific purpose

  • images can convey meaning and information more concisely and powerfully than text

  • there are instances when text may be a more appropriate medium to convey information

  • that images have a cultural and collective meaning

  • images can be misinterpreted

What are the constituent parts of visual literacy?

In order to understand how we decode the visual data to interpret meaning we can deconstruct visual literacy into the categories below. Nearly all visual resources will fall into one or more of these. Being familiar with these will offer teachers a solid foundation with which to design learning opportunities.


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