Imagine Comics without images, videos with blank screens, or say textbooks with ‘just text’. Quite boring, right? A little bit of color, a few images, the callouts, the speech bubbles would make all the difference. Not only do visuals make it more appeasing, it also grabs and holds attention. According to a research, “We are incredible at remembering pictures. Hear a piece of information, and three days later you'll remember 10% of it. Add a picture and you'll remember 65%.” Pictures are powerful indeed!
Visual design is a popular term in eLearning. Some call it the soul of eLearning itself. We discussed about how instructional design and visual design complement each other and that there is always a balance that should be maintained to create a good eLearning course.
eLearning often utilizes the power of visuals to improve the quality of learning content. Visuals in eLearning include simple images, infographics, charts, and additional visual aids. These when interspersed within courses that are usually text heavy, or highly complex can create an explanative and effective eLearning. However, that’s not all. Visuals bring in a lot more.
- Makes Complex-Simple
The best benefit of visuals is that complex concepts can easily be depicted as charts, infographics etc. breaking down processes into steps and giving it a graphical representation. Such representations make it easier to understand.
- Gives a Quick Summary of Trends and Changes
Look at a chart and we easily get a gist of what the current trends are, the general patterns etc. This makes visuals more important for eLearning as the visual representation of statistics gives a summarized output, wherein data shifts and changes can be discovered easily.
- Improves Knowledge Retention
Visuals are powerful and leave a lasting impression. Well conceptualized ones often leave a powerful message too (print advertisements utilize this to the fullest). An eye catching visual (relevant one), eases brain activity and also depicts learning content in a simplified way, breaking down complex concepts into simple charts. This prevents Cognitive overload that often occurs when too much information is added into a single course.
- Speeds Up Learning
Learning using visuals is faster in comparison to a text heavy solutions. Researchers have stated that, “Visual learners - the remaining 65% of the population - need to see what they are learning, and while they have difficulty following oral lectures they perform well at written assignments and readily recall material they have read.”
- Better ROI
Visual elements in eLearning, makes it engaging and effective. The retention period is often longer and this ensures that the learning is implemented while on-the-job. The performance goals can be achieved faster and hence, create a spike in the ROI.
However, visuals have to be relevant, support the learning objectives and contain up-to-date data. The trick is to balance and for this visual should not be too overpowering (avoid the flashy, technicolor). Visuals are great modes for reinforcing learning (flash cards, infographics, videos etc.) too.
According to Edward Tufte (1990), “words and pictures belong together.” Rightly so, as visuals alone cannot relay the complete message and needs appropriate text to support the visuals. Effective eLearning is hinged on creating the perfect blend, portraying the right message, and connecting with the audience.
To summarise, if you are aspiring to create the best eLearning course for your learners it must have the relevant and meaningful visuals for being successful. Visuals are the most important ingredient of any course to be successful.