ECT 300 EDUCATIONAL TECHNOLOGY: What is Visual Literacy in relation to the teaching process?

CHAPTER 3

VISUAL LITERACY

3a i). Examine concept of visual literacy in relation to the teaching process.

3.3 Introduction

When we think of literacy, the ability to read and write words quickly comes to mind. There are however other forms of literacy besides reading and writing words. Another form of literacy is visual literacy which allows learners.

3.4 The concept of visual literacy and its relevance to everyday life and learning.

Interest in the concept of visual literacy is fairly recent. Interest in this area only came into prominence in the mid 1960’s when it became apparent that specific skills were required for one to “read” and “write” visual messages in much the same way that specific skills are usually required to read and write words. Like the skills of reading and writing words, it was recognized that the skills of visual literacy did not evolve naturally as a consequence of maturation, but they were acquired through some kind of exposure like even direct teaching. It is with this in mind that experts in education have since advocated the need to purposely attend to the development of the skills of visual literacy.

At this point it is necessary to ask the question “Why is it necessary to develop the skill of visual literacy?” One reason is that visual messages of all kinds confront us every day, thus the skills of visual literacy have become indispensable to everyday life. Examples of visual messages we are likely to encounter in our day to day lives include pictures in books, newspapers and magazines, adverts in the print and electronic media, directions on how to use a variety of products ranging from chemicals to machinery and tools.

There is a general trend worldwide towards the use of visuals or pictorial communication. This is because visuals are a form of Esperanto. In other words, they are a universal language, likely to be understood by all throughout the world.

But why is worldwide communication important? In a world of free-flow of ideas, products and people a universally understood medium of communication is necessary. So far, no spoken or written language or any other means of communication exists that is as efficient, universal and direct as visuals.

Some of the information often communicated visually bear to our safety, for example the ability to “read”(interpret the meaning of) the various colours of the traffic lights.. Another kind of information usually presented visually and one that relates to our safety is direction on how to use a wide variety of products ranging from pesticides, machinery and tools. In each of these cases inability to “read” the visual messages can well mean risk to limb or life. Besides everyday living, visual literacy is also important from an instructional viewpoint. First, a large number of instructional media such as graphic materials , films and slides have a visual component. They make use of the sense of sight. Second, research on learning invariably reveals that the sense of sight is indispensable to learning. This sensory channel contributes overwhelmingly to learning, much more than any other sense. It is essential, therefore, that the sense of sight should be engaged if effective learning is to be realized.

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