The Importance of Visual Literacy in Education

Literacy in Education : If the word ‘literacy’ is used, many people immediately visualize a library full of dusty books. Not surprising, given how important written words have been in our lives, especially for those who aren’t ‘digital natives.

No matter how vital written communication is at school, it’s not the only way to get our ideas. Because of the internet, we are continuously exposed to images, both still and moving. It’s more important than ever that our pupils learn the visual literacy skills they need to navigate the image-heavy world we all live in.

Screens of all shapes and sizes have dominated our attention span in the blink of an eye. YouTube and numerous social media platforms have supplanted the book as the primary source of entertainment, which is unlikely to change.

Here are some ideas to help you develop classroom activities that incorporate visual texts and promote students’ visual literacy. Here are a few ideas for exercises you can utilize today with your pupils.

When we talk about ‘visual literacy,‘ we need to be clear about what we mean by that word. As a working definition, we might think of the term referring to the interpretation and production of visual pictures. Like other forms of literacy, visual literacy is about communicating and interacting. While it shares many similarities with those other forms of literacy, it also has specific distinctive characteristics that students must investigate in greater detail.

What is a VISUAL TEXT?

Reading, writing, and drawing pictures are all aspects of visual literacy. Static and dynamic elements are included. It’s an idea with ties to art and design, but it also has applications in various other fields. Language, communication, and interaction all play a part in visual literacy. Visual media is a linguistic tool to communicate, exchange ideas, and navigate our evident digital environment.

The International Visual Literacy Association’s founder John Debes coined the term in 1969:

Why Is Visual Literacy Important?

Students receive a lot of knowledge in both written text and visual aids. Students must have the tools to deal with this data in all its forms.

It’s not surprising that visuals impact us, given how visually oriented we are as humans. There are numerous benefits to developing one’s visual literacy, including:

As visual information is more memorable, it is more likely to stick in mind

The most efficient strategy to promote information from short-term memory to long-term memory is to mix words with visuals. Studies have shown that we retain just 10-20 percent of written or spoken communication but over 65 percent of information when it is given graphically.

Visual information is transferred more quickly

The brain can process visual information at breakneck speed. The brain can detect even visuals that exist for just 13 milliseconds. The brain receives most of its data in visual form (around 90 percent).

It aids students’ ability to interact with the world around them

Traditionally, we’ve viewed literacy instruction as a two-way street involving reading and writing. We might think of interpreting and making images as a pair of related activities in terms of visual literacy. With a rising number of diagnoses of attention deficit disorders, we increasingly rely on graphics to convey meaning in a fast-moving world quickly.

Enhances knowledge and understanding

The usage of photographs is often accompanied by other media, such as audio or text. Text and other media can benefit enormously from images, but pupils must have the requisite skills to access these depths to interact with these higher layers of meaning.

Enjoyment is increased

Increased visual literacy improves students’ comprehension of the media they consume, but it can also enhance their enjoyment of it, particularly of visual art. At an art exhibition with kids, there’s the possibility that they’ll say, “This is so dull!”

Students typically receive greater pleasure from their visits to art museums when they have an in-depth understanding of the meaning behind artworks, are well-versed in context and the lives of artists, or have had a chance to practice some of their artmaking techniques.

It’s the same with their visual literacy. Students are exposed to an exciting new depth of shape, color, and texture as informed readers of images in various mediums.

Educates Image Viewers to a Higher Level

In this day and age of fake news and nonstop advertising, educating our children responsibly means encouraging them to become aware consumers of the media they consume. We can teach children how images can be used to affect their emotions and encourage them to act in a specific manner through the teaching of visual literacy.

Helps Students with Limited English Proficiency (ELPF)

Literacy in Education : Teaching non-native English-speaking pupils can be made more accessible by incorporating visuals. Visuals can aid these kids’ journey to fluency in English as a helpful bridge. While it is obvious to use pictures in flashcards, writing frames, etc., to educate EAL students, it may also be an excellent approach to assess their comprehension of more abstract topics and vocabulary.

Do Teachers Use Visual Text in the Classroom?

Students are exposed to a variety of visual media in the classroom. The name “visual text,” with its jazzy connotations, conjures images of the digital age, but the roots of visual texts go far further, to the dawn of time. Think about the Lascaux paintings.

As a result, there is a broad range of visual texts nowadays. Students are introduced to a wide range of media, including but not limited to: billboards, television, photographs, maps, video, digital stories, memes, timelines, video games, political cartoons, signs,  posters, flyers, wallpaper, to name just a few. These might be used as a starting point for a lecture on visual literacy. Digital technology has unleashed a torrent of conscious and unconscious imagery on the world.

Conclusion: Literacy in Education 

Literacy in Education: Using the Visual Literacy Clues, students will learn how to understand any visual texts, whether they are moving or static images. Practicing these skills will help pupils become more proficient readers. While these abilities may take time to develop in children, it is essential to remind them that while we can refer to images as visual texts, we can also refer to written text as images because the letters on the page are inherently symbolic.

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