Visual Literacy

Visual knowledge is one of the organising elements of The Australian Curriculum.  Visual knowledge is ‘students understanding how visual information contributes to the meanings created in learning area texts. It includes interpreting still and moving images, graphs, tables, maps and other graphic representations, and understanding and evaluating how images and language work together in distinctive ways in different curriculum areas to present ideas and information in the texts they compose and comprehend.’

Visual knowledge is understanding how visual elements such as line, colour, shape, texture, space, symbols, pattern and composition create meaning. The resources below while primarily focused on reading visual texts, provide good starting points for teaching students how to strategically design the visual elements of their own texts. The aim is to develop a shared metalanguage for talking about how visual meaning is constructed.

By LadyofHats [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

By LadyofHats [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

Visual language metalanguage

The On line Visual Literacy project from Pomona College, Claremont California provides a useful overview of the basic visual elements  of dot, line, shape, direction, texture, hue, saturation, value, scale, dimension and motion which are used in combination to create meaning in images. This is an old website but the resources are relevant in exploring the metalanguage of visual literacy.

The bank of questions for Form, Content, Context, Frame and Gaze from The Visual Literacy Tool Box: Learning to read images support a close analysis of an image of any sort, building student understanding  of how these different elements contribute to visual meaning, and a metalanguage for talking about this.