While the integration of eLearning is an effective tool of corporate training, some information or methods presented in these online courses do not always keep the learner interested and attentive. There are a number of reasons for a lack of engagement—maybe the content is too dense, or the presentation is too bland, for instance.
In order for someone taking the course to absorb its fundamental concepts, they need to be stimulated by the learning experience itself. And this is where the strategy of visualization comes in. This approach combines both textual and pictorial content in the same learning module to illustrate the data in a format which is digestible and easy to understand.
These visual elements can take different forms: images, charts, maps, infographics, videos, pull-quotes, memes, diagrams or annotations—any component that breaks the tedium of plain written text and boosts the learner’s attention. Below, we’ll talk about why visualization is an important tool and how to utilize this feature in your courses and online training.
What Are the Main Benefits of Visualization?
Because the mind is wired to process and codify images quicker than words, visualization increases the learner’s ability not just to consume information, but to retain it long-term. In fact, research conducted by The 3M Company indicates that a human brain creates meaning from visuals 60,000 times faster than it does from text.
The efficacy of this tool can be applied to several areas of cognition such as these below.
- Enriches Memory and Comprehension: Based on data published in The Journal of Education and Practice, most people tend to recall just 10% of what they read and 30% of what they see. This signifies that using visuals can increase the learner’s mental absorption and retention by 20%.
- Accommodates Core Style of Learning: According to some learning theories, there are four main types of learners—visual, auditory, written and kinesthetic—but 65% of the population are in the visual category, points out the curriculum brand Pearson Education. So, with visual materials, you are tapping into how the majority learns.
- Stimulates Creativity and Enthusiasm: When textual content is embedded with graphic elements, this can mobilize creative thinking, proposes Recent Advances in Educational Technologies. That is because the mind often functions in abstract, so visuals will spark ideas, curiosity, and imagination.
How Can You Harness Visualization for eLearning?
For a visual content asset to become a beneficial adjunct to the course, it should do more than create aesthetic interest—it needs to serve an actual purpose. It needs to underscore the module’s takeaway message. It needs to provide context which the learner can make sense of and apply. It needs to result in active engagement.
These are some considerations to think about when planning your visual content:
- Keep It Relevant and Consistent. Online metrics compiled by The Nielsen Norman Group have found that people are drawn to relevant “information-carrying images,” but tend to dismiss “purely decorative images” which don’t add content or substance. So, incorporate visuals that consistently reinforce and illustrate the text. Avoid pictures that distract from the material or don’t have a practical purpose.
- Focus on Tapping into Reactions. For learners to retain an image, they must feel a visceral connection with it, Buffer So, when you generate visuals, consider the emotion you want to evoke in the learner. Is your intent for them to feel excited, fascinated, inspired, or motivated? And what specific imagery can evoke that desired reaction?
- Make the Elements Interactive. Some visual data is static in that its purpose is to be seen and examined, but other data is interactive, so the learner can actively connect with it. This form of visualization can require a certain software, but it’s worth familiarizing yourself with how the algorithms work: such a tool enables the learner to be an active participant in the eLearning course through “conversation with the data,” according to researchers from Stanford University. For an easy way to create data visualizations, check out the pre-built Microsoft PowerPoint charts and graphics in the eLearning Brothers Asset Library.
- Opt for Uniqueness and Ingenuity. If your goal is to produce memorable and applicable visual content, then make sure it’s unique. Lifeless, overused stock photos do not attract a person’s interest or attention. Not only do these images have an amateur look, but many are “full of clichés and stereotypes” which can hurt the course material’s credibility, adds Learning Solutions. Instead, create graphics that feel authentic, original, expressive, and smart. These resources are ideal for developing your own visual content: the eLearning Brothers Asset Library, Infogram, Skitch, Canva, BeFunky, and PowerPoint.
Visualization is an integral part of the eLearning experience—how can a learner obtain knowledge if they’re not engaged in the process? So, the next time you devise material for corporate training, make it both palatable and accessible by presenting the information in a visual medium.
By Lesley Vos, a freelance writer from Chicago, with a background in private education.