2021. Truth and Lie in Visual Literacy and education. Journal of Visual Literacy 40(2) [Guest Editor].

This special edition will explore the emerging visual literacy of truth and lies across three major questions: Can a theoretical survey examining students’ comprehension of text and visual narrative reveal false beliefs? How can we support our students to investigate visual cultural and historical objects? And how Photoshop tools help build awareness of image manipulation in the classroom.

The opening article by Lilia Topouzova raises the question of how to translate the language of cinema into the classroom by examining the truth and lies found in old movies. To address this question, she reported on using visual aids to examine the key events and topics in 20th century European history through cinema and historical writing. She also brought to class physical objects from both the academic and documentary film worlds to show the possibilities for interdisciplinary collaboration. By doing so, she encouraged her students to use the language of cinema that is transformed into characters, plot, sounds, and sequences and helps to incorporate critical inquiry for truth and lie that her students include in their writing assignments on films.

The next article by J.D. Swerzenski, addresses the question, how can educators teach awareness of graphic manipulation? To discuss this issue, he reviewed the technical and rhetorical understanding of Photoshop software as a common tool in teaching visual education. More specifically, he examined the airbrush, layers, and filter tools found in Adobe Photoshop. He outlined critical steps in pursuing better understanding of the reasons for which an image was manipulated. He argued that expanding students’ visual reading and writing skills through understanding photo editing provides students with stronger visual skills needed to engage in visual-dominated culture where no guidelines or grammar was proved to identify truth and lie in visual content.

The third article, by Kelley Donne, examines the barriers to early readers’ reading comprehension of text and illustrations. The study used the Theory of Mind and its four conditions to assess early readers. The study found a combination of illustrations and text makes it difficult for children with mind deficiencies to gain full comprehension of the narrative. The study outlined those specific conditions when those cases can also lead to false beliefs. The study also reported that using prolongation and speech bubbles found on the illustrations increases students’ comprehension, and character close-ups help communicate the emotion.

Future challenges of visual literacy education with respect to truth and lies
With the growing use of social media in education, we need to accept a new path of investigation towards helping educators and students to become more aware of the visual imagery that can display truth and lies. In this special edition, we address this call to report on theoretical inquiry regarding students’ interpretation of the text and visual comprehension, collaborative efforts to develop visual inquiry for student investigation of historical objects’ trustfulness and use of Photoshop tools to build student inquiry of image manipulation. As pointed out by J.D. Swerzenski, in teaching visual manipulation to the classroom, we also need to add a new understanding to the means of and reasons for which an image was altered to tell a lie.

The future of visual literacy education should be geared towards a critical question: How can educate our students to be more aware of visual inquiry regarding visual objects and visual creation manipulation? As the popularity of social media in education grows, it brought us a new understanding that text and images can stand for truth or lie. This shift to visual education and inquiry will be critical for educators who will need to add a new topic into their curriculum, that is the inquiry into whether the visual image tells the truth or lies.

2021 Friedman, A. “Truth and Lie in Visual Literacy and education.” [Guest Editor]. Journal of Visual Literacy 40(2).