Traditional learning has been resistant to changes for decades, but then eLearning took over to revolutionize the way we approach our courses and studies. New technologies allow us to reshape educational materials and introduce a number of alternative features to the learning process.
Visual components are one of those features that strongly impact eLearning. Images and other visual elements are often interactive, so they make studying more dynamic and engaging. Marketers have realized the importance of visualization a long time ago:
According to the report, articles that include images produce 650% higher engagement than text-only posts.
Users who follow directions with text and illustrations perform 323% better than individuals following directions without any visuals.
The same goes for eLearning tools, so it’s not the question of whether you should add visuals to your lessons but rather how to do it most effectively. In this article, we will show you how to use different types of visuals to improve your eLearning courses.
Types of eLearning visuals
Before we start explaining how to use visuals in eLearning, we need to start from scratch and present you the basic types of graphic elements that are appropriate for digital courses.
It is important to mention that there are no limits here – anything you can think of is perfectly fine as long as it augments the content presented in your study materials. However, the features we are about to mention proved to be suitable for almost every type of eLearning course. Without further ado, let’s check them out:
Images: The first option is obvious – you can use all sorts of photos to make your lessons more impressive.
Illustrations: If you can’t find a quality image for your content, feel free to create an illustration. The point remains the same and you don’t have to settle for anything less than perfect.
Infographics: It’s a super-useful feature, so we will discuss it thoroughly in the next chapter.
Screenshots: Sometimes you want to present a real-life example, which is where screenshots can play their role in eLearning. After all, you don’t have to shoot a photo if you can just crop it from the existing source.
Charts and graphics: These types of visuals are mandatory for eLearning lessons that need to contain a lot of statistical facts.
Timelines: It’s an irreplaceable component when you want to show progress in a given timeframe.
Animations and GIFs: You can also create a small motion picture show using GIFs or animations. Such a tactic is great for breaking the ice early on.
Videos: The Internet is flooded with all sorts of amazing videos. We don’t recommend adding too many clips to eLearning materials, but a good educational video can’t hurt your audience every once in a while.
7 Things to know when using visuals in eLearning
Now you know the options, but do you know how to use them? Our goal is to help you with selection, so keep reading to learn seven key tricks.
1. Identify the right type of visual
You can’t just rush into things and pick a random image for your studying materials. Instead, you need to approach the selection process carefully and choose the visual that perfectly suits the lesson.
As we explained already, each type of visual format has its own purpose and meaning. Images can be used almost everywhere, but charts or GIFs are definitely not something you can add to all of your presentations.
Jake Gardner, an eLearning content creator at AssignmentMasters, says it’s important to answer a few questions before making the decision: “What is the goal of this visual? Do you want to evoke emotions or present data-driven insights? The element you choose must support the content in general, so you have to understand answers to these questions well in advance.”
2. Think about the target audience
Another detail you need to consider is the audience you are targeting. It can make or break your hopes of improving eLearning courses with visual effects, which forces you to think about the traits of the average course participant.
Try to create a buyer persona and identify all of his/her fundamental traits. For instance, custom research paper writers know that their clients are young students who demand high-quality academic assignments, so it’s easy to understand the best style for this type of content. But eLearning courses can cover a lot of different fields or life and work, so we strongly recommend you to find out the following:
Demographic features such as age, location, and gender.
Cultural background and the level of education.
Personal interests, lifestyle, beliefs, and values.
All those inputs will help you to understand the mind of your audience and to identify the most appropriate visuals for your courses.
Related read: Digital Transformation in Higher Education: Will Universities Survive?
3. Combine visuals with textual content
No matter how beautiful or effective, visuals alone cannot deliver the message to its fullest extent. On the contrary, you have to combine images and other types of visual content with the text in order to achieve the highest level of precision and simplicity.
You can see it even in traditional textbooks – every image is followed by the short line of text that clearly explains the meaning of an image. Of course, you have to be a prolific author if you want to come up with effective one-liners for each photo.
This part of the text must be concise and straightforward, not leaving any room for possible misinterpretations. Make sure to use actionable statements and avoid slang or jargon that can confuse readers. If this sounds like a little too much for your skills, you can always consult with the best writing services such as Australian writing to give you a few valuable ideas.
4. Use photos with people’s faces
This eLearning hack is strictly psychological, but it does miracles retention-wise. Namely, students tend to focus on real human faces very strongly, which encourages them to pay attention and remember more details than they usually do.
In other words, you should try to find images with real people who are performing some sort of activity. Such visuals look more natural and convincing, which makes them the best way to drive engagement and inspire participants to react.
5. Choose the right colors
This tip is also critical because colors you choose make a huge impact on the overall appearance of your eLearning materials. In case you didn’t know, each color has a special meaning and connotation, so you need to create a color palette that perfectly reflects your ideas and intentions.
For instance, blue is the color of authority that suits serious eLearning courses with participants who demand logical explanations, facts, and statistical insights. On the other hand, red screams energy and therefore is the most convenient choice for young learners who need an occasional power boost. At the same time, green is ideal for environmentally friendly topics.
The list goes on, but it’s up to you to analyze each color and come up with a scheme that corresponds with your learning goals.
6. Create a standout infographic
Do you know that an infographic is 30 times more likely to be read than a purely textual article? This type of visual is a huge hit in the digital universe and eLearning is by no means an exception. But how do you make a standout infographic?
Even though infographics are visual features, they still follow the same structure as textual posts:
An introduction: This is actually a headline followed by one or two sentences that get readers acquainted with the topic.
A body part: Here you need to discuss all of the major issues and divide them into several units to make the content more understandable and visually appealing.
A conclusion: There is no classical conclusion, but rather a call to action based on the goal of your lesson.
The best thing about infographics is that you don’t have to be a professional designer to create one. All you need is a simple tool like Canva to make your own version of an infographic within minutes.
Related read: How to Use the Power of Gamification in e-Learning
7. Check out free stock image websites
We saved the best for last! Who says you always have to shoot photos or design other types of visuals single-handedly? The Internet is packed with websites offering high-quality free stock images, so we strongly encourage you to check them out.
Sites like Unsplash, StockSnap, or Pixabay offer millions of high-resolution images and animations that you can use free of charge. Everything is only a few clicks away from you since you can browse those websites by categories or search by keywords to find the best solutions for your eLearning materials.
eLearning is reshaping traditional education because it’s not afraid of embracing novelties. The ultimate objective of the new studying model is to make the process more dynamic, effective, and informative using state of the art learning tools.
Images and other visuals represent one of the most powerful features in this field because they help students to learn quicker and remember more. In this post, we showed you how to use different types of visuals to improve your eLearning courses. Keep our tips in mind and don’t forget to use them in your courses – they will take your lessons to the whole new level.
This is a guest post by Tiffany Harper. Tiffany is a talented writer from New York, an extremely active woman, and a real leader. She began her career as a journalist and later proceeded it as an educational writer and editor. Now she works as the subject matter expert with Assignmentjunkie, mostly in the educational area. Please do not hesitate to contact her on Twitter.