Let’s start with intuition itself. How do we think? When we remember the past, we evoke a mental image, and when we plan or wish for the future, we do it again too. If we want to relax and indulge in fantasies without limits, we imagine something unreal, yet unexperienced. We think visually. We all do it every day, effortlessly. We would find it difficult to function without visualization.
Even when Einstein thought about a problem, he always felt the need to express the subject of the problem in as many different ways as possible, including diagrams. He visualized solutions and believed that words and numbers did not play as significant role in the process of his thinking.
What is visual learning?
More than 40 years ago, visual learning occupied cognitive psychologists who examined various aspects of this phenomenon. Some of the most important conclusions concern the advantages of visual learning techniques over verbal ones and the evident influence of the formation of visual associations on recollection, but also the motivation for learning.
When learning and teaching methods that engage visual thinking and analysis are applied, individuals become motivated to learn, accept new information with joy and enthusiasm, without even noticing that they are learning. Wondering how? So it all happens without pressure, and learning is almost no different from playing a game.
Many methods deal with learning through images, but the main goal of new educational strategies is not only learning information but also their connection and development of functional knowledge. Programs that deal with the development of functional knowledge put visual learning as an initial stage in the development of creativity and functional knowledge, wherewith the help of other methods that are similar to play, they activate the learner’s potential.
This way of visually supported learning and connecting information reflects not only on the already mentioned positive reactions in learning but primarily on the development of individuals’ cognitive capacities such as divergent thinking, associative reasoning, and independent knowledge construction. And that leaves the learner able to be active in their thought process. At every step of that process. At all times.
Visual teaching aids are based on the so-called video components and therefore have visible dimensions and external sensory properties. Visual teaching aids are those that act on the sense of sight.
Within visual teaching aids, two larger groups can be distinguished: textual aids, which can be broken down into subgroups of handwritten, typewritten, and printed aids, and photographic aids.
Visual teaching aids can be divided, with regard to dimensions, into two-dimensional and three-dimensional, and with regard to the didactic function, into static (immovable) and dynamic (movable). Some examples of visual teaching aids are drawings, pictures, photographs, graphs, tables, models, and the like.
It is assumed that in the future the learning process will strive for the greatest possible visualization of communication while thinking about the pedagogical aspects and the meaning of the means and not neglecting the original reality.
Significant advantages of visual teaching aids are high reliability, the possibility of displaying feedback, enabling use by a wider circle in any place, and storage for a longer period.
Technological and technical benefits should be used in every aspect of learning, not only for visual presentation but for every part of the learning process.
These methods enable and require more active student participation and provide more opportunities to demonstrate what has been learned.
Today we grow up surrounded by digital media and the computer is our everyday tool, and we are members of the so-called net-generation. Accordingly, we prefer to learn by seeing and are used to grasping information via technological means.
So, it is not surprising that visual learning assumes a predominant role in modern teaching.
Visual teaching aids are used in different teaching environments: traditional classroom, interactive teaching, distance learning, computer-aided teaching, as well as printed material from texts to flyers.
Moreover, today, teachers have access to sophisticated electronic environments and in this way, it is much easier to find an appropriate way to transfer knowledge.
Psychologist Jerome Bruner claims that “people remember only 10% of what they hear, 30% of what they read, but about 80% of what they see or do”, from which it can be concluded that words and pictures can be a very powerful way to communicate.
Research has shown that visual learning can enhance a career up to 10 times more than any other style.
For this generation, using digitally-assisted, visual materials is a more natural way of learning, because most children do not know the world without technology.
Visual Learning Examples
The use of powerful images creates strong impressions and lasting memories in learners. It helps them make sense out of the content and direct attention while increasing the possibility of retaining information. With images, connections are realized and complex concepts can be simplified.
Video learning is easily a great way to boost learner engagement, especially when entertaining elements are incorporated into it. It takes out the mundane task of having to sit in a classroom and listen to lectures for hours by helping visualize and placing context to the information you’re absorbing.
In the midst of our technological age, it has become increasingly difficult to keep individuals engaged in a captivating learning space. Gamified learning motivates learners, leads to better engagement with content, and is proven to enhance message retention.
Presenting and reinforcing key concepts through interactive and varied ways are perfect for visual learners as they get a hands-on learning approach. Interacting with their learning content helps stimulate a response and increases engagement with the training material.
Tables, charts, and graphs
These visual representations help learners grasp information in an organized and systematic manner. They’re best used in situations where you need to demonstrate important relationships or patterns. It helps visual learners understand data quicker and emphasize important information.
Visual Learning Quotes
Throughout the years, there have been many proponents of visual learning. For a brief insight into their ideas, here’s a quick list of some of their visual learning quotes:
“We are visual creatures. Visual things stay put, whereas sounds fade.” – Steven Pinker
“We are visual creatures. When you doodle an image that captures the essence of an idea, you not only remember it, but you also help other people understand and act on it – which is generally the point of meetings in the first place.” – Tom Wujec
“People do not read first. First and foremost, they see color. Then they see numbers, then shape, and then, if you still have their attention and they understand what you put in front of them, then they will read.” – Debbie Millman
“I’ve always been a very observant person, a visual person. That’s my way of learning. Things on paper, notes and things like that, don’t help me the same way as watching things live.” – Adam Thielen
“When you’re too robotic and scripted, the students tune you out. So I always tried to use different learning modalities – kinesthetic, auditory, visual, whatever might bring learning to life.” – Erin Gruwell
“Humans had proven to be unusually good at learning to recognize visual patterns; we internalize our alphabets so well we don’t even have to think about reading once we’ve learned how to do it.” – Steven Johnson
“80 percent of learning is visual, so children who can’t afford vision correction are at such a disadvantage.” – Ellen Hollman
“As a visual storyteller, a lot is learning what to include so you’re not being redundant between images and text.” – Nate Powell
“I guess through my learning disability, through dyslexia, I’ve always been a visual learner – I take in everything through my eyes.” – Scoot McNairy
“Richard Felder is co-developer of the Index of Learning Styles. He suggests that there are eight different learning styles. Active learners absorb material best by applying it in some fashion or explaining it to others. Reflective learners prefer to consider the material before doing anything with it. Sensing learners like learning facts and tend to be good with details. Intuitive learners like to identify the relationships between things and are comfortable with abstract concepts. Visual learners remember best what they see, while verbal learners do better with written and spoken explanations. Sequential learners like to learn by following a process from one logical step to the next, while global learners tend to make cognitive leaps, continuously taking in information until they get it.” – Ken Robinson
How to use the best strategies with your eLearning authoring tool?
E-learning content includes access to a variety of information, be it video and audio materials, presentations, or multimedia catalogs, in a word, all content is presented in a modern and attractive way. The advantages of using computers in teaching are multiple, and the main ones are interactivity and individual attention, mainly as a result of the visual presentation.
Numerous design elements can be used to help achieve good results in the e-learning process. Improper use of fonts, colors, and graphics can also cause distractions and thus reduce the efficiency of e-learning. If it is e-learning via an interactive whiteboard, one should pay attention to another common problem: excessive use of buttons or links on the interactive menu.
The best way to preserve the simplicity of an e-learning site design is to maintain the necessary minimum of variations in content, menus, colors, and fonts;
What can also help greatly reduce the time used to navigate a site is consistency, which can contribute to e-learning pages by reducing the burden of information processing and preventing cognitive overload. The process of learning to use an e-learning site should be fast and painless, so learners will be motivated to continue. The principle of consistency should include colors, background, fonts, titles, text format, folder management, and layout of materials.
Some minor inconsistencies, if used correctly and not so often, such as changing the text format, can quickly attract learners’ attention. For this purpose, an underlined line in the text or a changed color pattern can be used to indicate a change of theme.
It has been shown that the engagement of individuals increases if their personal presence and participation in the e-learning process is increased. It contributes to this if the lecturer integrates chat rooms, video conferences, and so on.
Many techniques can be used in visual learning to improve the thought process or learning skills. Illustrations, diagrams, pictures, videos, etc. can help to make it easier to learn otherwise difficult content.
Some visual learning strategies that can be used in the e-learning environment are:
- Improving teaching through simulations, flash, and other animations, multimedia educational software, electronic knowledge tests as well as programs for independent work. All the mentioned techniques require an individual form of work or, work in a team, depending on the available equipment.
- Application of educational video material that deals with topics from a certain subject. It is important to choose video materials that are intended primarily for learners who would like to deepen their knowledge
- The simplest form of application of interactive content are presentations that are made for the frontal form of work and for those teaching topics in which theoretical content predominates.
- Quizzes can also be made more engaging and fun
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