Employees in corporate companies have a harder time concentrating during training sessions than they have in their daily busy environment. They have short attention spans. It is a test for an instructional designer to design the massive content which looks like an elephant to fit into a box which can be compared with the learners’ attention span. Though it is not possible to fit an elephant in a box, taking a picture of it and fitting that into the box is viable. Here what I would like to stress upon is chunking the content to reduce the unnecessary explanations, knowledge which is in common, and use visuals instead of long text wherever necessary. The visuals not only reduce the time to convey the information but also help in gaining the attention of the learners and to connect emotionally with them.
However I find that the visuals in eLearning courses are used just as space fillers and with no reason. Here are few points which tell you how to use visuals in online courses:
To grab the attention
Any time if you use a visual or a picture, it effortlessly grabs the attention of the learners. But do not present a picture which distracts the learners since adult learners get easily distracted. So you have to be cautious in choosing a picture to gain their attention. Nature of content guides you the best in such selection.
To reinforce an Idea
Learners, when exposed to new concepts, learn through imagining and relating them with the previous experience or knowledge they already possess. The visual should be used to reinforce these associations. They are an effective vehicle to activate such associations.
To communicate emotions
Certain concepts are conveyed to learners via stories to engage and connect with learners. Stories are the best way to connect emotionally with audience. These emotions are very best described through pictures with supporting text.
To convey content swiftly
In corporate world, as discussed earlier, the attention span of the employees is growing shorter. For delivering the content in that slot of time, images prove to be very helpful. Depending upon the content you may use pictures or visuals to convey lengthy information. It facilitates the learner to grab the content within their short attention span.
These are few points which should guide you while using images. But you should remember that while using images the content should guide you in selecting them. Do not use them without any reason or solely to improve the look of the course.