Visual Literacy

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Visual Literacy Curriculum

Visual literacy will be available campus-wide to be included in any UToledo course. The curriculum modules will provide opportunities for UToledo students across all majors to master the ability to “speak visual” through targeted exercises incorporated into their existing course offerings. The available modules can be used as homework or in-class assignments to support developing fluency in visual language.

Click Here for instructions on accessing Visual Literacy materials in Blackboard

Anatomy of a Photograph

This module will allow students to develop a visual vocabulary for discussing photographic images and to visually deconstruct them using ten specific visual tools.

Fair Use, Creative Appropriation, and Plagiarism

Students will learn how to critically evaluate images in context and distinguish between fair use, creative appropriation, and plagiarism.

Finding and Evaluating Sources

Students will gain skills in evaluating and using image sources and learn how to properly cite those sources.

image Search and analyzing Context

Students will learn to analyze images' content, recognize the signs of manipulated images, and learn some resources for reverse image searches.

Infographic Interpretation and creation

The module is designed to provide students with an understanding of the use of infographics for communicating complex ideas efficiently and effectively. Students will learn about different platforms that are available for creating infographics and how to refine and wireframe complex information into a visual representation.

Review "the student guide to infographic" module

Review "the instructor guide to infographics" module

Review "the student infographic critique" activity

Review "the instructor infographic critique" activity

Reading Social and cultural Contexts

Students will delve into three vital areas of study that are challenging to observe and record photographically: racial justice, poverty/wealth, and climate change. They will practice observation, deconstruction, critiquing, and interpretation of images related to understanding and discussing these issues.

Visualizing Data

Students will learn how to convey non-visual information through visual means and experience ways in which displaying information can change how it is understood and interpreted.



The Toledo Museum of Art has created a series of short activities which serve to demonstrate how visual literacy functions in communication and critical thinking. While some of the exercises are museum-gallery based, others can be facilitated in a classroom or conference room with the use of projector screens or supplemental flashcards. The exercises are designed to take less time than a module to complete and function well as "ice breakers" or introductory primers for visual literacy lessons.

Twenty Ways to Look 

This activity will challenge you to look closely and examine an everyday object in a way that reveals what is taken for granted. To be successful, you will have to look closely and think critically.

Goals: Participants will apply visual literacy strategies to aid critical thinking about an everyday object.
Objectives: Participants will employ close looking. Participants will answer questions to guide interpretation of an everyday object.
Applied Skills: Close Looking, Interpretation, Critical Thinking, Collaboration, Effective Communication, Active Listening, Observation, Supporting Evidence, Evaluating Information, Persuasion, and Reasoning.
Length: 25-30 minutes

Step by Step

No matter what you decide on as a career or major, you'll be expected to communicate effectively. This group project will take you through the process of creating something visual and then explaining it in a way that allows another group to replicate your work.

Goals: Participants will work together using their collective skills and knowledge of writing, logic, math, creativity, engineering, and more to collaboratively create and recreate a structure.
Objectives: Participants will practice close looking and describing skills. Participants will use close observation to provide detailed descriptions. Participants will collaborate, listen actively, and work as a team.
Applied Skills: Critical Thinking, Communication, Creativity, Collaboration, Active Listening, Describing, Interpretation, Team Building, Problem Solve, and Community Engagement.
Length: 30-45 minutes

Human BArometer

Most of us go through life feeling pretty confident that we are seeing the whole picture. But how much do you really see? This exercise will put your observational skills to the test as well as demonstrate the power of group think.

Goals: Demonstrate attention blindness through a memory and observation exercise. The activity will also demonstrate the power of group think and persuasion on our understanding of what we have seen.
Objectives: Participants will recall details about a physical space. Participants will use visual evidence and memory to make persuasive arguments.
Applied Skills: Close Looking, Analysis, Recall Information, Reasoning, Persuasion, Point of View, Logic, Evaluating Evidence, Creating a Claim, Building an Argument, Supporting Details, Decision Making, and Interpretation.
Length: 20-25 minutes

Last Updated: 5/26/24