Lesson 1: Introduction to Visual Literacy

The soul never thinks without an image – Aristotle

Welcome to EDIT 5564: Visual Literacy! This course is divided into ten lessons. For each lesson there are one or multiple assignments to complete. The course also contains reflection and self-assessment activities. These activities do not need to be submitted, but are created so you can assess and reflect on your own learning. The numbered assignments in the brown boxes are the only assignments that need to be submitted. In this first lesson you will learn what visual literacy is, why visual literacy is important, and how the effectiveness of images depend on their purpose.

What is visual literacy?

The concept visual literacy consists of two words; “visual” and “literacy.” Before we will define visual literacy, let’s think about these two separate concepts first.

Reflection activity:

Please get a sheet of paper and write down 'visual' on one side of the paper and 'literacy' on the other side of the paper. Please try to come up with a definition for each of these two words or words that you associate with 'visual' and 'literacy'. What do 'visual' and 'literacy' mean to you? Next, watch the two videos and compare your responses with the ones in the videos.

As you have seen in the videos, visual literacy appears to be a broad subject area. There are not only many different types of visuals, literacy is also more than 'just being able to read and write' and consists of analyzing, interpreting, and creating visuals as well. On the next page you will learn what visual literacy is and how it is defined.