1 What is it?
Over the past half century, many of our encounters with information have shifted from the printed page to the screen. Screen-based information offers so many more options—images and video, with their elements of color, shape, dynamic filters, and composition—that the concept of visual literacy has become important. Visual literacy is the ability to recognize and critically appreciate meaning in visual content and to use visual elements to create effective communication. It is not restricted to such fields as film, design, statistics, and the visual arts but is a vital skill for any student in higher education. In educational and vocational environments, students and other communicators are building infographics, videos, and interactive maps that require them to identify patterns and meaning in data, choose viable questions to consider, determine what to present in graphics, and select from an array of tools and services to construct a final product.
2 How does it work?
Visualizations often provide better ways to tell a story or understand data. A map, for example, shows the borders of a city or country more precisely than a detailed verbal or textual explanation. A chart can offer a simple-to-grasp story of a company’s financial growth or decline. As faculty and students employ more visuals in teaching and learning, visual literacy has become part of courses across the curriculum.