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Visual literacy meets digital literacy

How can we analyze the purpose and meaning behind images? How can we apply verification skills to image analysis? Much of the mis- and disinformation online spreads through memes, manipulated photos, and other visual forms. All images, however, can be rich texts for analysis.


How it Works

Describe the Situation

What does the image show? How does it make you feel?

Identify the Source

Where did the image come from? What is the source’s reputation?

Interpret the Meaning

Is there any text with the image? Does it influence the meaning?

Analyze the Purpose

How might different audiences receive this differently?

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Questioning images is a flexible tool that works with all kinds of images, from historical, to social media, to journalistic. In this activity, students use a visual framework to investigate images from a variety of online and offline sources. By working through the series of questions, students will develop everyday fact-checking skills and build a habit of thinking critically about images

What teachers are saying

‘My students’ attention is much more captured by the picture than by the words. And so it’s really about getting them to think critically about why they are looking at this particular picture. Why has a newspaper decided to choose one photo over another? What is the message? How can that message be manipulated based on what’s being presented within the photo? You can use the Questioning Images framework with kids as young as kindergarten. It’s nice to be able to start talking to kids about that kind of critical literacy at such a young age. So by the time they get to be adults, it’s habit for them.’

— Kim Davidson, Military Trail Public School, Scarborough, Ont.

Related videos

Developed with experts

The Questioning Images lesson and resource has been developed in collaboration with Professor Farida Vis and her colleagues at the Visual Social Media Lab and Education and Social Research Institute, based at The Manchester School of Art, Manchester Metropolitan University. It has been adapted from the Visual Social Media Lab and First Draft’s ‘20 Questions: Interrogating the Social Media Image’ framework and worksheet.


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