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Visual Literacy & Learning

Soc 327 AOC Tour

Most people become literate by learning to read at an early age, but very few people devote as much time and practice to “reading” information presented visually. Visual literacy and learning makes connections with art, history, technology, culture, and integrates these primary educational resources into our everyday lives.

Your brain has been gathering visual information since you woke up this morning. Think of everything you have spent time looking at today – Netflix, print advertisements, Instagram pictures, emoticons, etc. Our visual literacy skills are constantly challenged in today’s information age, with ever-increasing amounts of content presented to us visually. The description, analysis, interpretation, and judgment of daily messages form the foundation of visual literacy.

Current research suggests that becoming more visually literate increases growth in all types of learners. No matter your learning style, everyone can understand information more quickly and easily when presented with charts, animations, drawings, and other images we can visually process. Those who utilize art to practice visual literacy have demonstrated an ability to transfer these skills to other areas, making the process relevant to those in all disciplines. For example, being more visually literate will help a biologist examine cultured cells in a petri dish. Practicing visual literacy will benefit economists as they develop and evaluate graphic organizers that explain the circulation of macroeconomics. Agronomists can use visual literacy skills to visually identify the effects of erosion.

Not all people “see” the same things when looking at a visual or object, but visual literacy can bring everyone to an informed understanding. Just as books are a primary research tool, so too are objects a source of primary information. Continuing our visual literacy education will teach us to analyze what we see and make educated judgments.

Discover what you can learn by looking. Contact Lilah Anderson, Educator of Visual Literacy and Learning, at to arrange an in-class or site specific visual literacy or object learning session.

Download – Object Learning Worksheet

Download – Seven Ways to Read an Object

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