Visuals play an important role in eLearning. In fact the visual elements such as info-graphics, illustrations, graphs, charts etc. and the content of the course go hand in hand. Visuals can be used to explain the content effectively, and hence present great learning experiences to learners. However, it is important to make sure that you use visuals not only to make your course pleasing to the eye but also to enhance the effectiveness of the course.
You need to look at visual elements as means to present information in such a way that concepts are explained clearly. Using visuals to ‘decorate’ your course serves no purpose.
Here are a few questions, an instructional designer needs to ask himself before using visuals in his course.
1) Do visuals decrease the content overload?
Once the eLearning professional has comprehended the content, it is time to decide on how to present the content in such a way that his learners stay ‘connected’ to the course. This is where the importance of using visual elements comes into the picture. Visual elements can greatly aid the learning. Text-heavy content can be presented effectively using images and illustrations. It is essential that images are relevant and speak about the content. In other words, you need to relate images to the content so that the learners can absorb it effectively and recall it better.
2) Do visuals make the content comprehensible?
It is advisable to use visuals to explain processes and procedures. This approach helps not only to reduce the volume of the on-screen content, but also allows your learners to retain information effectively. For example, if you are developing a course on ergonomics, it is essential to use visuals because the textual information, by itself, would not be able to explain the concept clearly.
Here is an example of how visuals are used to explain ergonomics.
3) Do visuals help keep learners connected to the course?
Your course will not be effective if your learners cannot relate it to their needs. Hence, as an eLearning professional, you need to see that your learners are able to connect themselves with the course. This is again where visuals play an important role. For example, you can incorporate scenarios containing images of people in an eLearning course to explain concepts related to sales or compliance.
Here is a screenshot of one such example.
4) Do visuals convey what you wish to tell the learner?
Certain types of visuals such as tables, graphs, pie charts, etc. help convey information more accurately than presenting the content in textual format. For example, if you need to explain the differences between two objects or you need to compare one entity with the other, tables are the right choice. Using pie charts and graphs helps present statistical data in a user-friendly manner. This approach is also useful to summarize huge data accurately, thereby enhancing the quality of learning.
These are the few things that every instructional designer needs to know while using visual elements. How do you use visuals? We’d love to hear your experiences.