Visual Literacy in Online Community Interactions: PhotoShop Contests at

By Kelly M. Keegan.

Published by The Technology Collection

Format Price
Article: Print $US10.00
Article: Electronic $US5.00

As more and more of our lives move to the internet every day, research has adjusted to keep up with examining what we learn and do online. We go online for a multitude of reasons: entertainment, research, shopping, etc. A significant portion of the internet experience relies on the visual. It is therefore a necessity to be able to effectively read the internet’s visual cues and to recognize the specific conventions and “grammars” of online spaces. This paper examines one community site on the internet,, to determine what role, if any, visual literacy plays in creating a community of practice online. Additionally, this paper seeks to outline the ways in which online communities function as learning communities. While the aim of many sites like Fark is entertainment, there exists specific sets of skills and behaviors which the mastery of determines whether or not a participant is successful in apprenticing into the community. One such set of skills is associated with PhotoShop contests on Fark. This paper explores the connection between these contests and visual literacy.

Keywords: Visual Literacy, Communities of Practice, New Literacy, Multiliteracies

The International Journal of Technology, Knowledge and Society, Volume 6, Issue 4, pp.165-178. Article: Print (Spiral Bound). Article: Electronic (PDF File; 1.240MB).

Dr. Kelly M. Keegan

Assistant Professor, Ella Cline Shear School of Education, State University of New York College at Geneseo, Geneseo, New York, USA

Kelly Keegan is an Assistant Professor of English Education at SUNY Geneseo. Her interests include online communities of practice, communities centered around newsfilters and weblogs, multiliteracies, science fiction and graphic novels as used in secondary classrooms, and online viral videos and memes.


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