Exploring visual communication and competencies through interaction with images in social media

The authors of the paper Exploring visual communication and competencies through interaction with images in social media are Matilda Ståhl (Åbo Akademi University) and Hannah Kaihovirta (University of Helsinki)The paper is part of our Special Issue on Smartphones in classrooms and you will find more information about the paper here.


The students of today are surrounded by visual information, online as well as offline. This study examines visual communication and active competencies when interacting with longer-lasting images in social media. Focusing on one focus student in upper secondary school in Finland, the ethnographic data consist of 41 images that the focus student interacted with, by liking or sharing, on Tumblr and Instagramduring school time. The data are collected during 3–5 consecutive days once a year during the focus students three years in upper secondary school. Three interviews function as secondary data.

Drawing on visual ethnography and different levels of messages in visual material, the analysis shows that the focus student interacts with images in a way that communicates the kind of persona the focus student wishes to convey in social media. Thus, the findings indicate that four competencies are active while interacting with images in social media: visual competency; technical competency; knowledge of social norms; and knowledge of self. Therefore, we claim that there are active competencies when interacting with images on social media and that this should be considered in the educational discourse on youth as media users.


Ståhl (2018) Figure 1.jpgFigure 1. Image liked on Instagram, 2015

Game based learning in Scotland

A couple of weeks ago, I attended ECGBL 2016 in Paisley, Scottland. The Educational Conference on Game Based Learning or ECGBL, was hosted by ACPI and the University of the West of Scotland, UWS.

Although my research has a focus on game based learning, I am also interested in virtual learning environments in general. In my doctoral thesis I intend to combine theories from game based learning and the data collected by Textmöten. I represented therefore the project during the ECGBL conference with around 200 attendees, including game developers as well as educators. I presented a poster together with my supervisor Hannah Kaihovirta from Åbo Akademi University, and we got a lot of constructive feedback. The conference offered educators interested in games and game developers with an educational interest an opportunity to meet and make new contacts.

I learned a lot during this conference and networked with fascinating people, so I am very happy that Textmöten gave me the opportunity to take part in this conference!

Matilda Ståhl
Doctoral student and research assistant in the Textmöten research project