graphics benefit learning are we using it optimally
Were you an academic achiever or did you leave that to the smart pupils?

No matter your forte you’ve probably realized—as your grew older—the imbalances in many educational systems.

Some curriculums cater for a single approach that focuses on the analytical part of the brain. Students who have unique perspectives or are more creatively inclined often struggle to keep up.

Education is essential to society’s functioning. I’m not here to criticize educational systems. I realize it’s difficult to create one system that benefits all students.

I’m not only referring to school systems. There are so many online courses available. How can you enhance those so students get optimum results? They may not have access to discussion panels to instil and reinforce knowledge.

I believe using graphics wisely is one way we can make courses more user friendly.

I also know text is important. Certain facts must be stated in words. It’s all about creating a balance between the different mediums.

Here’s the why and how.

1. Graphics Teach Faster

When you’re done reading this you’ll maybe wonder why we use text at all.

Our brains are wired to use visual impulses for learning.

Firstly your retina contains 40% of your nerve fibres. I don’t think they’re used optimally simply through reading.

Even if you see an image for 13 milliseconds your brain will capture it. You can’t read text that fast. Graphics can be processed 60 000 times faster than text.

Placing more explanatory graphics along with text will help learners get through more work in a shorter period. Instead of writing the description of a person, building or scene it’s better to simply show it.

2. Use Graphics to Tell Stories

use graphic for story telling
Your history textbook probably had a few historical photographs alongside paragraphs of text. This is not what I’m referring to when I want more visual stories.

Students recall more information if emotional connection accompanies facts. When stories form part of a syllabus you can help them remember them in detail.

Photographs or even rough drawings can be used. Showcase the emotional aspects of the people in the stories. Make sure students can connect the facts of the story to the resulting emotions.

This will give purpose to the facts. When students have to recall facts they’ll probably think of the faces and automatically remember more information.

With e-learning the options are even better. A video describing someone’s experience of factual background is ideal.

Students feel connected to the people in the stories. This connection gives them a reason and method to remember facts.

3. Explain via Graphics

Have you heard the expression ‘Can I draw you a picture?’

When we’re adults we realize facts, budgets or projections on paper are easier to grasp. It also allows a group of people to brainstorm the topic.

Why don’t we use this approach more in education?

A simple graphic can explain relationships and comparisons. When formulas confuse students graphics help them see the bigger pictures.

We expect children and students to make sense via definitions and formulas. Why make it difficult? Adding more of these abstract graphics to learning material will empower them.

One graph can lead them to search for visual representations for other difficult concepts too. This results in self learning and creative thinking.

4. Position is Key

I hope you’re starting to look for ways you can enhance your syllabus.

If you don’t have the time to look for new graphics simply work on your layout.

Studies prove that identification is important. Learners can be very lazy. They won’t identify a photograph on the far right of the page with text in the centre.

Make sure your graphics are close to relevant text. Your students will:

  • Be more attentive because of the interesting graphics
  • Remember more because the facts can now be anchored to graphics
  • Recall quick by simply thinking of the image

5. Mnemonic Devices

mnemonic devices graphic learning
Mnemonic devices help learners remember information better. As mentioned above graphics representing a story have this effect.

Many more options exist. They’re easy to add to learning material.

Examples

Adding photographs to literature show students what the text is about.

No person loves spending time in a classroom. If the pictures depict interesting aspects it may positively influence a student’s attitude.

When you’re positive about what’s coming you’re bound to listen and learn more. This results in enhanced fact retention.

This also benefits recalling information. The picture serves as an anchor. The facts on the page will be remembered better thanks to the graphics.

Metaphors

In a similar way metaphors can help you retain information. Imagine explaining a concept by using a metaphor. Add graphics of this metaphor to the page.

When it’s time to remember the concept a picture of the metaphor will jump to mind. This is an excellent starting point to easily remember the rest of the facts.

Decoration

This tool should be used wisely. Overuse can cause learners’ attention to waver.

Graphics can be used to decorate learning material. People are more receptive of aesthetically pleasing literature. No one wants to study when pages are cluttered and unorganized.

Once again these graphics can assist learners in recalling information. Their brains will retrieve facts when they think of graphics on the page.

6. Keep up the Quality

This doesn’t mean you can search for quick ways to enhance your school or e-learning syllabus. Your students quickly pick up on low quality work.

Make sure you use quality photographs that don’t pixelate. This will distract your students from what you’re trying to achieve.

You can’t even go online and pick a few seemingly relevant pictures. It’s all about value.

Students need to realize the unquestionable relevance between the text—facts—and the graphics you use. If the photograph was obviously taken for a different purpose it will seem superfluous.

We can’t reprint or redesign all courses of the past. We should talk about this subject. Hopefully more educational leaders and influencers will use these methods in future. Debates about educational methods are a constant in our society. Many studies support the notion that creative methods benefit learning. Are we going to ignore the facts or make dynamic adjustments?

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