All Blog Posts (705)

Visual Literacy Research: Where to Start

There is much research yet to be done. As mentioned, the literature about visuals and visual literacy is overwhelming. This author is asked from time to time where a neophyte researcher interested in visual literacy should start. The temptation is to answer, “with the meta-analyses and reviews of the literature” (e.g., Levie, 1987; Levie & Lentz, 1982, Moore & Readance, 1984; Winn, 1987), but that is not a very helpful response. The best advice would be to read carefully three books:… Continue

Added by Timothy Gangwer on March 20, 2009 at 4:25pm — No Comments

Photographic Memory?

Consecutive Images

When an image gets on the retina of an eye it does not just disappear thereafter. Our brain continues to see the perceived image for some time. But it happens only in case the picture is not “blocked" by something else. If you disguise the picture you saw with another picture or even with 20 different pictures imposed on each other the effect of consecutive images will not be reached.

Therefore the so-called inertness of the visual analyze (also… Continue

Added by Timothy Gangwer on March 15, 2009 at 1:18pm — No Comments

Critical Visual Thinking

When children enter the educational system, typically they go through some standard form of screening. It generally takes twenty minutes or less. The screening protocol usually looks at areas such as:

- Drawing and Copying – Hand preference, approach to task, comfort level and fine motor/grip.

- Remembering – Visual and auditory, remembering what is seen and heard.

- Building With Blocks – Perception, fine motor/dexterity and eye-hand coordination.

- Using Language –… Continue

Added by Timothy Gangwer on March 10, 2009 at 8:56pm — No Comments


Perception, narrowly defined, is awareness. Most of what we perceive is perceived visually— perhaps three quarters or more (Barry, 1994; Hansen, 1987). Perception is sensing, and visual perception is seeing. Studies of perception at that level are beyond the scope of this chapter. Still, the relevance to visual literacy of perception more broadly defined is obvious. Barry (1994) defines perception as “the process by which we derive meaning from what we see, hear, taste, and smell” (p. 114,… Continue

Added by Timothy Gangwer on March 6, 2009 at 6:17pm — No Comments

Visual Learning/Visual Teaching

The visual literacy movement has been tied to the field of education from the outset. While the research on visualization has demonstrated that visual skills can be taught (Winn, 1982a, and others), there has been no standard approach to teaching visual skills. Although visual skills and visual literacy instruction in the schools is the exception rather than the rule, in several instances visual literacy courses have been introduced. Dake (1982) reviewed 50 visual literacy curricula… Continue

Added by Timothy Gangwer on March 2, 2009 at 9:01pm — No Comments

Visual Literacy Under the Microscope

There are two major impediments to research on visual literacy. The first is a lack of a widely accepted definition of the term visual literacy itself. The second, perhaps a consequence of the first, is a lack of a cohesive theory. We must confront the ever-present problem of identifying visual literacy itself before we can identify the body of visual literacy research. The visual literacy concept as an area of study has been plagued by an identity crisis from the outset. Skeptics doubt that… Continue

Added by Timothy Gangwer on February 24, 2009 at 10:43am — No Comments

Visual Material

There are good reasons why students should be encouraged to introduce visual material into their writing. Jay Baetans provides four reasons. The first is that of readability where visual images make it easier for the eye to manage the text blocks. Secondly, images convey information in an economical way. Thirdly, images convey modernity in that today we expect the visual to play an important role in communication. And lastly, there is the networking of images and text where “images…reinforce… Continue

Added by Timothy Gangwer on February 16, 2009 at 8:52pm — No Comments

The Visual Essay

If PowerPoint is framed primarily as a visual presentation medium, then the user is encouraged to try to represent their thinking visually. The visual essay, in its turn, provides a different context where technology can serve as a tool with which students can think and represent the world in more complex ways.

The photographic/visual essay is a genre that is especially associated with Life magazine. Henry Luce, the founder of Life believed that this form of visual communication… Continue

Added by Timothy Gangwer on February 10, 2009 at 6:16pm — No Comments

Technology Education and the Visual

Technology Education and the Visual

All these views suggest the centrality of visuality in modern life. Whether we are dealing this off screen or on screen, “human experience is now more visual and visualized than ever before,” (Mirzoeff, 1999, p. 1) If this is the case, then our teaching programs should provide our students with opportunities to look how society, both in the present and the past, has attempted to visualise experience, as well as providing opportunities for… Continue

Added by Timothy Gangwer on February 6, 2009 at 10:10am — No Comments

Visualising the Visual

Visualising the Visual

The visual dominates so many areas of life now. Our view of the world is mediated through TV, and increasingly the Internet as it in turn becomes a more visual and interactive medium. Most forms of communication are highly visual. Is there a day that when we don’t use the power of simple icons to carry out complex instructions, whether on our personal computer or the local ATM? And this type of interaction applies even more so to our students who are… Continue

Added by Timothy Gangwer on February 2, 2009 at 1:15pm — No Comments

Visual Thinking

Visual Thinking

Picture thinking, visual thinking or visual/spatial learning is the phenomenon of thinking through visual

processing, where most people would think with linguistic or verbal processing. It is nonlinear and often has the nature of a computer simulation, in the sense that a lot of data is put through a process to yield insight into complex systems, which would be impossible through language alone.

Information Processing in Visual… Continue

Added by Timothy Gangwer on January 29, 2009 at 10:48am — No Comments


The illiterate of the future will be the person ignorant of the use of the camera
as well as of the pen.
- Laszlo Moholy-Nagy

Added by Timothy Gangwer on January 26, 2009 at 2:18pm — No Comments

A Phoenix to Watch For

Interesting endeavor.

Of all the members of The Impossible Project team, I think one of them looks like Mr. G
I don't know. Maybe it's just me.

Added by Gloria Rzadko_Henry on January 21, 2009 at 10:23am — No Comments

Definitions of Visual Literacy

While most English/language arts teachers understand how to use and teach alphabetic and even aural literacy, they may not be so adept at using and teaching visual literacy. Since it was first used in the 1970s, the term “visual literacy” has been given many definitions by many disciplines. One early description of visual literacy was “the active reconstruction of past visual experience with incoming visual messages to obtain meaning” (Sinatra, 1986, p. 5). A more general definition given over… Continue

Added by Timothy Gangwer on January 20, 2009 at 8:22pm — No Comments

Visual Representation

Visual Representation

Representations consist of content and format. The content is what is being represented, and the format is nature of the representation. Format can be thought of at two levels: physical and informational. For example, representing temperature with the number 8 can be thought of as ink on paper in the physical sense, or as a number in an informational sense. The informational sense is more appropriate for cognitive representations. Physically, mental… Continue

Added by Timothy Gangwer on January 19, 2009 at 3:11pm — No Comments

Cambridge University

Aoccdrnig to a rscheearch at Cmabrigde Uinervtisy, it deosn't mttaer in waht oredr the ltteers in a wrod are, the olny iprmoetnt tihng is taht the frist and lsat ltteer be at the rghit pclae. The rset can be a total mses and you can sitll raed it wouthit porbelm. Tihs is bcuseae the huamn mnid deos not raed ervey lteter by istlef, but the wrod as a wlohe.

Added by Timothy Gangwer on January 17, 2009 at 12:48pm — No Comments

Photographic Language

Photographic Language

Photography is a language. Just like the written word it has its own vocabulary and its own grammar. Effective imaging, like effective writing or speaking, depends on understanding and applying some basic principles. Photography might be called an art of selection. The vocabulary a photographer works with is made up of the visual elements that exist all around us. Anything we see can be a visual element. The grammar of photography is the way in which visual… Continue

Added by Timothy Gangwer on January 11, 2009 at 11:28am — No Comments

The Visual Teacher

The Visual Teacher

The Visual Teacher is an educator who embraces and models full spectrum visual literacy.

• The Visual Teacher understands the effects of visual stimulation on brain development and utilizes imagery where appropriate to enhance learning.

• The Visual Teacher understands the underlying concepts of visual literacy:

1. Imagery communicates in an emotional and pre-rational style that can bypass logical thought.

2. Imagery invokes the part… Continue

Added by Timothy Gangwer on January 5, 2009 at 8:58am — No Comments

Introduction to Visual Teaching

Introduction to Visual Teaching

It is estimated that 80% of learning in the first 12 years of life comes from visual stimulation. Visual Learning as a theory takes full advantage of this natural propensity. To address the effective use of visual skills in the pursuit of learning, visual learning theory has evolved into four key elements: full spectrum visual learning. Active and performance-based learning, dynamic translation, and a multidisciplinary approach.

Full… Continue

Added by Timothy Gangwer on January 2, 2009 at 10:58am — No Comments

What texts do you find helpful or valuable?

I maintain a national media literacy web site: The Media Literacy Clearinghouse,, and I have a visual literacy page with various resources, including texts. I am interested in what texts you find useful, especially with K-12 students. Thanks !

Added by Frank W. Baker on December 31, 2008 at 12:52pm — 3 Comments

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