Visually presenting facts in online courses
What do you do when you have an eLearning course that contains a bunch of facts: numbers, trends, statistics, rates, and so on? How do you make your graphs, maps, charts, and tables visually engaging? More importantly, how do you help your learners remember some of this information?
At CommLab, we do a lot of courses that are heavily fact based. We recently did one on maternity. Among others, it included facts about birth and mortality rates of mothers and babies, worldwide birthing trends, and some historical data.
The client did provide us with some graphs and a map. But how do you make the information related to the graph “stick” in learners’ minds? From our own experience as learners, we know that a bulleted list of facts on the screen will not become a bulleted list of facts in our brains; we have to make a special effort to remember these facts. When we’re done with the course, we find that the audio and text have just left a few traces of information in our minds. Not only are bulleted lists boring, they do very little to help learners remember information.
We’ve all seen infographics online and been amazed by how they make facts come alive. So our instructional designers decided to use animated infographics to get away from the bulleted lists. These infographics had the following elements:
- Color-coded maps to designate developed and developing countries
- Icons to represent concepts: all major concepts would be represented using icons. The visual style we decided on was silhouette. We also defined the colors for these icons. These were: pink, shades of gray, white, and black.
Some examples of icons we used:
These icons appear in synch with audio over the graphs, maps, or timelines and give learners a handle to remember some of the facts. See examples below.
I. Graph with icons
II. Bullet points replaced with icons
III. Timeline with icons
Tell us how you’ve been getting away from bullet points.
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