For Teachers

Advice on Adding Visual Literacy to Your Curriculum

By The Room 241 Team June 5, 2013

Education is continuously changing, and so are the techniques. The visual literacy classroom is becoming a priority to keep up with digital technology trends in learning. The capacity, comprehension and communication of current students differ considerably from the student of 10 and even five years ago. The classroom environment must adapt to the students’ learning styles. Before thinking of ways to add visual literacy to the curriculum, you need to be confident that you understand what is expected.

What is Visual Literacy?

Visual literacy is a set of abilities that enables an individual to effectively find, interpret, evaluate, use, and create images and visual media, according to the Association of Colleges and Research Libraries. The use of technology has made possible the enhancement of learning through body language, drawing, painting and computer images. Presentations become more effective as students are able to incorporate visual media into their explanations. For visual learners, this is a major advancement in being attuned to their comprehension levels.

Schools have taken the opportunity to offer classes and tutorials on programs that have an impact in the business environment, such as PowerPoint and Adobe Photoshop. Students integrate technology in every facet of their lives, including applications beyond the simple computer, but have migrated toward tablets and smartphones. It is imperative that instructors take the time to not only integrate these processes into their classrooms but become immersed into the programs themselves. An instructor cannot effectively teach a class integrating visual literacy if he is not literate himself. The use of multimedia enhances the way learning takes place.

Next Steps

Moving forward, instructors should afford all students the opportunity to embrace technology through visual literacy. The use of laptops or tablets when doing presentations, arranging lectures using PowerPoint slides to effectively engage and explain topics, and using visual literacy in communication via a class webpage or email thread would assist students in becoming empowered.

With the consistent demands of technology, it would be detrimental to deny access to these tools while in the learning environment. As curriculum standards change, more visual and technological adaptations are becoming necessary. As an instructor, start small. Students should build up their progression. Although there are many other outlets in which they have already been exposed to visual literacy options, the learning environment should be centered on the capabilities of the entire class. Students who are not as technologically adept need to have the same experiences as those who are already quite familiar with technology.

Students First

Learning modules that allow students to slowly integrate visual learning processes is key. An in-class exercise learning PowerPoint or allowing a student who is savvy in the program to lead the class through strategies and tips could be valuable. The comfort level in using technology should be high at the end of the class term. Work with other teachers and trade tips on how to integrate technology and determine what works best. Cross-level teaching while integrating technology would provide cohesiveness across the learning platform and allow the students additional exposure in visual learning.

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