The short answer to how important visuals are to learning is that they’re, well, very important. Think about yourself and how you’d like to learn. Would you prefer a lengthy textual description of a process, or would you prefer a video or a presentation? The majority of learners would prefer the second option, as plain text can be boring even if it’s written with flair.
Several studies have been conducted about the power of visual aids in eLearning. For example, those wanting to become a CPA are more likely to retain information with visual support. According to this list of best CPA courses, all of the learning programs are supported by video lectures, with just over half containing audio versions. That’s because over 65% of the population is comprised of visual learners, so it’s considered to be the most important aspect in online education.
There are several advantages to adding visual aids on your e-course, here are a few for you to consider.
1. Makes Communication Quick and Simple
It’s easier for us to process information in small, easy to digest chunks. If I were to list all the positives to putting image and video in a block of text or bullet points, which would you prefer?
Visuals are processed 60,000x faster than text
90% of all information transmitted to the brain is visual
Humans have a better sense of visuals; we can get this sense in 1/10t of a secondary
Our brain sees images that last only for 13 milliseconds
We can register 36,000 visual messages an hour
40% of nerve fibers are linked to our eyes (our retinas)
It’s no wonder that humans are better suited to visual learning with that information!
2. Helps Store Information for Longer Intervals
Images are the most effective and straightforward way for your brain to bring any information to store in your long-term memory. Our short term memory processes words and can only retain around seven bits of information. Considering this is significantly smaller, blocks of text remain ineffective. Images go directly to long term memory where they often get permanently etched.
3. Visuals Act as Simulators for Emotions
Visual information and emotions are processed in the same part of the brain. This visual stimulus that connects our emotional response is linked due in part that they generate out memories. Have you ever wondered why you can remember how to get to a specific street, but you don’t know the name of the road? This is why. Powerful images and visual metaphors make a stronger impression on learners.
4. Better for Comprehension
Humans have an easier time grasping concepts that stimulate our imagination. This affects our cognitive capabilities that lead to visual language learning. We absorb information better from being shown, rather than being told. If you see a group of squares together in a line, but one of those shapes is a triangle, you will comprehend that something is wrong with zero effort. However, me telling you this in text will take longer for your brain to process.
5. Learners will be More Motivated
If you’ve ever been uninterested in school, it’s likely they weren’t teaching it correctly. For some reason, most teachers will still teach boring and droney lectures that come straight from a textbook. If the same teacher had added engaging videos, captivating images, and infographics, you probably would have enjoyed math class more. When you’re thinking of learning anything new in the future, it’ll motivate you to search out pictures instead of words.
6. Unsuitable Visuals will also Lead to Unsatisfied Learners
Using appropriate visuals is just as important as using visuals at all. The quality and relevance matters a lot, more meaningful images, charts, and videos will set you apart from your competitors. But, images that are hard to see or ones that won’t solve their problem will be useless to the leaner. Anything too generic is also destined to fail, and won’t appeal to the average learner.
The best images that add value to your learners are:
Ones that use people, objects or places
Those that simplify hard to understand or text-heavy topics
One that helps learners connect the familiar with the unfamiliar
Treat your visuals like they’re power boosters to your already excellent eLearning course. If your images are irrelevant, they will only distract the reader and provide a miserable experience.