Visual, Media, Litearcy: Wha?


As I read various articles and websites about Visual Literacy and Media Literacy, I realized that I often use the two terms quite interchangeably. So my first quest went to finding definitions for these two terms with the aim to distinguish between the two. I found many definitions, but here’s what I found:

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. Images and visual media may include photographs, illustrations, drawings, maps, diagrams, advertisements, and other visual messages and representations, both still and moving.” (Source: The Association of College and Research Libraries Image Resources Interest Group) from Visual Literacy by Frank W. Baker

Media Literacy

Within North America, media literacy is seen to consist of a series of communication competencies, including the ability to ACCESS, ANALYZE, EVALUATE, and COMMUNICATE information in a variety of forms, including print and non-print messages. from National Association for Media Literacy Education (NAMLE)

Then I set off to analyze the two definitions for overlap and differences. So, I decided to go to create a Word Cloud on based on the text in bold.

Created on Tagxedo
Created on Tagxedo

Looking at the word count analysis, between the two phrases, the only overlap was the word, “evaluate.” And upon closer inspection of the terms used, though there are some differences in the nuance of the words, many of the terms used are related: “find/access,” “interpret/analyze,” and “use and create/communicate.” So, that didn’t seem to clarify much for me.

I looked further down the definitions provided and came to what the target of the literacy is. So, Visual Literacy is bound by the fact that the target must be visual and can be seen whereas Media Literacy can be any other source. So, my conclusion of the difference between the two:

Visual Literacy is the ability to access, analyze, evaluate and communicate ideas and thoughts visually.

Media Literacy is the ability to access analyze, evaluate and communicate ideas and thoughts through various forms of media including and not limited to things that are visual (ex. audio).

*There was supposed to be more in this one post, but I didn’t think it would show how I’m starting to think about my blog posts, so “Visual, Media, Literacy: Wha?” became 2 posts. Thank you for enduring the mess of my mind.

–> Click here for to read “Visual, Media, Literacy: Wha? II.”


2 thoughts on “Visual, Media, Litearcy: Wha?

  1. Hi Akio,
    Thanks for taking the time to clarify the differences between visual and media literacy. I’ve seen the terms in various posts and articles and it’s helpful to understand exactly what is meant by each.
    Good call on the creation of separate posts. The deliberate break between the two gives both ideas equal floor time and provides greater clarity for your reader. They are also a pleasure to read in this format.

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