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Checklist for the Visually Literate

Have Working Knowledge of Visuals Produced or Displayed through Electronic Media

Understand basic elements of visual design, technique, and media.

Are aware of emotional, psychological, physiological, and cognitive influences in perceptions of visuals.

Comprehend representational, explanatory, abstract, and symbolic images

Apply Knowledge of Visuals in Electronic Media

Are informed viewers, critics, and consumers of visual information.

Are knowledgeable designers, composers, and producers of visual information.

Are effective visual communicators.

Are expressive, innovative visual thinkers and successful problem solvers.

Through advances such as digital cameras, graphics packages, streaming video, and common standards for imagery, visual imagery is now routinely used in communication. Many fields—from architecture, to medicine, to farming—are use visualization tools to represent data and model phenomena such as population growth, weather and traffic patterns, and the spread of disease.

From three-dimensional representations of data, to geographic information systems, to representation icons, a picture is truly worth a thousand words. Students need good visualization skills to be able to decipher, interpret, detect patterns, and communicate using imagery—especially given the ease with which digitized visuals can be manipulated.

Computer-based visualization and analysis tools have fundamentally changed the nature of inquiry in mathematics and science. Scientists use these powerful modeling tools to detect patterns and understand data using colors, time-sequenced series, three-dimensional rotations in real-time, and graphic representation of complex correlations.

Visualization tools enable students to make their thinking visible in all academic areas. Students are able to build interactive models to test theories in real time and use graphics to display results. Graphic organizers and visual mapping tools enable students to make sense of complex subjects by exploring linkages, relationships, similarities, and differences between phenomena, and visually representing interplay among system components.

Article adapted from Learning Point Associates.

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