eLearning images are an oft overlooked component of a good course. A great deal of the information we process comes to us through our visual cortex. Its estimated that 93% of information we communicate is obtained through nonverbal queues. According to Mike Parkinson, visual information is processed about 60,000 times faster than textual information. It hearkens to that old saying, “A picture is worth 1,000 words.”
There’s something very helpful about having a pictorial representation of the concept to hang your hat on. An image anchors a concept in a way that words often can’t. While text forces you to create an image in your brain from scratch, introducing a picture gives us a jumping-off point, showing us a tangible concept which can be instantly grasped and further explored through text or audio.
For many of the same reasons above, a good image can also increase a learner’s comprehension and recall. Instead of trying to remember the nebulous image that they produced in their mind’s eye, they can simply call up the more tangible picture that they physically saw and didn’t have to manufacture themselves.
Any journalist worth their salt will tell you that a story without a picture lacks the punch it might otherwise have. For instance, if I were to describe to you a natural disaster that occurred in some foreign country, you might be pretty shocked by the words alone. However, it wouldn’t be quite as real to you as if I included a picture of the rubble, injured people, and all-around devastation.
Similarly, I could try to tell you how much I love dogs and try all day to convince you to love them to, and it wouldn’t have nearly the same impact as if I just showed you this…
How quickly did your heart melt? How long did it take for the word “awwwwwww” to involuntarily escape your mouth? Instantly, right? And now we both love dogs! (Thanks to Mike Parkinson for inspiring this example)
Punctuating the Text
Finally, eLearning images also work wonders when it comes to breaking up the text and giving the eye a chance to rest. When you read, your eyes scan a wall of words trying to squeeze out each nugget of information. If done for an extended amount of time, it can get exhausting. But throw an some pictures periodically, and it cracks the text up into manageable chunks with and a sort of visual dessert when your eyes get to the more easily digested info of a picture.