Making the Most of the Visual Element in eLearning

Visuals are important in any kind of learning but they assume a greater importance in elearning because of the medium of teaching. For students studying on the Web on their own, distractions are aplenty and hard to resist. If your material is bland, it will fail to hook them, and before they realize it their minds will have started to wander. The right kind of colors, images, graphics, and fonts can prevent this from happening. Beautiful visuals can also break the monotony of learning and introduce an element of fun.

Their role, however, is far from being aesthetic alone. The most important role that visuals play in elearning is that they create an impression and aid retention of material in students. This is crucial in the absence of a charismatic teacher.

Here are some research-backed reasons for you to smartly incorporate the visual element in your elearning courses, as well as suggestions on how to do so.

Use an Uplifting Color Scheme

This is particularly relevant for courses based on dry subjects. Now we realize that ‘dryness’ in learning is subjective, but in general technical topics usually tend to test the patience of students more than other kinds. For example, pages full of the behavior of benzene hexachloride are going to be a lot less exciting than learning about the hunting skills of a big cat.

Colors have a great impact on our mood. Everything from the color of the walls to that of a computer screen has been found to impact learning in students. Research has found that “blue boosts creativity, while red enhances the attention to detail.” Together the right blend of colors can make learning and remembering material easier.

As the designer of your elearning course, you want to harness the power of colors and use them effectively in a way that uplifts the mood of your students and keeps it from sagging.

Images and Videos

It’s a great idea to use the above as often as you can in your course material.

Some subjects lend themselves naturally to this medium. But it’s those that don’t that need to integrate the above more. The molecular structures of chemicals, for example, can be rendered in eye-catching colors and with a 3D effect. If images and colors make an impression, videos can be downright unforgettable.

Videos are dynamic. They instantly grab our attention. A well-made point through a visual medium is very likely to stay with your students.

Videos help both auditory as well as visual learners. In fact, you would be hard pressed to find people who are not stimulated by interesting videos. When it comes to learning, stimulation is half the battle won. When your video has grabbed the attention of your students, they are more likely to remember the content.

While educational videos have been popular for long, not all are equally interesting. Your challenge therefore is not just to create a video, but to create one that stands out.

Strive for Visual Equilibrium

Yes, visuals are great to have, but they also need to be in harmony. We don’t want a sensory overload, just the right amount of stimulation to aid the learning and retention of material being taught.

You also don’t want to introduce too many videos or they may prove to be a distraction. Work on getting the balance right to create the desired effect on your students.

In Closing

Fun is an important part of learning. Unfortunately, it’s also often overlooked. If learning cannot be engaging or engrossing, people won’t be able to make the most of it. Visual elements are not just fun, they also engage more senses than dull text-based content alone, hence creating a deeper and longer-lasting impression on students. Let’s work with human nature, instead of going against it, and infuse our material with elements that are proven to create an impression on learners!

Richard Cassidy serves as Director of Sales for Administrate, an online training administration system that helps training providers around the world save time and money. After three years as a Royal Marine Commando, Richard hung up his boots to launch Software as a Service (SaaS) products in the global healthcare and aviation sectors, before joining Administrate in 2011.

Image: Capture Queen via flickr