Graphics are an integral part of learning, be it standard classroom or online trainings. It is often seen that e-learning fails to leverage the potential of graphics as a strong medium of teaching visually. Maybe it is because we have spent lifetimes writing text-based training material that we produce lot of trainings without much or any use of graphics. At the other extreme, we sometimes create elaborate visuals for training, so much so that learner ends up mesmerized by the jazz and plays little attention to the content.
All graphics are not effective! A research conducted by Journal of Educational Psychology shows that if not used properly, graphics can depress learners and bring down interest level. The effectiveness of visual treatment requires a clear:
- Instructional goal
- Learning landscape
- Standard characteristic of the graphic
If you ensure that graphic meets the goal of the instructions it is supporting, the landscape is designed keeping the audience in mind, and all the graphics are designed and developed on the same standards, the graphic will definitely add to the learning. You can vary the above three to design one of the following graphics:
Decorative: Adds aesthetic appeal and humor (Usually part of a bigger graphical representation)
Representational: Depicts objects in the real-world manner (Simulations)
Relational: Depicts quantitative relationship among variables (line graphs and charts)
Mnemonic: Provides cues to retain facts and information (Graphical aids but not literal representation)
Transformational: Shows changes in object over time (Animation)
Each category of graphics mentioned serve a different purpose and need to be carefully chosen and aligned with specific instructional content. Therefore, to design the best graphic for a given instruction, you must first understand the instructional goal and then, map your strategy to it.
(Mr. Sachin Pandey is Project Manager at G-Cube)