The Power Of Visuals In E-Learning

Brigg Patten

We live in an age of instant information. We no longer need to wait until prime time to watch our favorite TV shows; we can contact anyone from anywhere, buy anything with a click, and when we want to learn more about something we can look it up instantly on devices in the palm of our hands.

This is obviously great for us as consumers, but when it comes to keeping a person’s attention, it provides a whole array of new challenges to tackle.

The majority of people won’t watch a video that is more than four minutes long, will click away from a page after just five to ten seconds if it doesn’t hold their attention, and check their smartphones an average of nine times in an hour. This really has an impact on learning. The traditional classroom format is quickly becoming redundant, as technology and e-learning takes over as the preferred means of training and development. So as a facilitator of e-learning, whether at an e-learning company or within your own organization, how do you make sure that you keep the attention of your learners? Visual content is one of the best ways.

Why is visual content worth the extra effort?

Inserting visual content into your e-learning modules might require a little extra time, and perhaps some extra expense on a designer or developer, but is it worth it? The answer is unequivocally yes.

Visual content is essential. As previously mentioned, people have short attention spans, and anyone hoping to capture a mind for an extended period of time will need to both attract and retain their attention. Visual content offers a variety of ways to do that. Furthermore, visual content is much better for mobile. If you hope to have a successful e-learning program, mobile compatibility is a necessity. When a screen is smaller, and navigation is done on a touch device, it must be visual.

But the benefits of visuals do not end there. Along with helping you to keep a learner’s attention, they also benefit the learner. Everyone is unique, and accordingly, the ways in which individuals learn most effectively vary greatly. Some people prefer to read, others need more visual or interactive stimuli. Regardless of learning styles, visuals help break down difficult concepts—which also makes them a keystone of microlearning.

In a training setting, visual content is also invaluable. It allows you to improve training by portraying real-world scenarios in which your employees can test their knowledge in a safe and controlled environment. As an added bonus, visuals also help to keep the learning process fun and start life at your company on a positive note.

Incorporating visual content in e-learning modules

When we talk about inserting visuals into content, many people think this means simply adding a few pictures and maybe some video. However, there are actually lot of different ways in which one can incorporate visual content into e-learning. Here are just a few.

1. Interactive features

This is one of the most interesting and dynamic ways to keep a user’s attention in an e-learning environment. As stated, interactive content is one of the best ways to reach users these days. This can come in the form of moving features within modules, clickable factoids, or quizzes and games at the end of chapters to help your users test their knowledge.

2. Infographics

A popular tool in marketing, these have been proven to be effective ways of conveying information in an easy-to-digest format. Shake up large chunks of text or break down certain difficult concepts by presenting them in a visual yet informative way.

3. Short videos

Videos are the form of visual content that most people first experiment with, and they are still major players in e-learning. Especially outside of a classroom setting, videos are great way to help an instructor reach individuals and explain concepts that may need further expansion. The key to creating effective video content is to make sure that each clip is clear, concise, and short in length. There is no point in including videos if no one is watching them.

These are just a few ways you can incorporate visual content in order to create a more effective e-learning experience for both user and instructor. However, as with all things tech-related, innovation is key. You won’t know what works and what doesn’t until you try it out. This also makes regular feedback essential—it might be worth inserting an option for feedback upon completion of a course.

e-learning is the future of education, and in order to fully embrace it, course designers must also embrace dynamic and visual content. That is the best—and often the only—way reach users.

For more on the power of interactivity, see 4 Interactive Marketing Videos That Master The Medium.

About Brigg Patten

Brigg Patten writes in the business and tech spaces. He's a fan of podcasts, bokeh and smooth jazz. His time is mostly spent learning the piano and watching his Golden Retriever Julian chase a stick.