Benefits of Using Images and Other Visuals in Your E-Learning Courses
There are several content types you can add to your e-learning courses. This includes videos, animation, and, of course, text. One of the most important, however, is images.
Understanding this importance is crucial as there are too many e-learning courses that only use images for window dressing. This is only one of the benefits of images and visuals, however.
As a result, images and visuals deserve as much consideration and effort as all the other content you include in your e-learning course.
Types of Images and Visuals
The main types of images and visuals you can include in your e-learning courses are:
- Photos – both custom photos and stock photos
- Graphics and diagrams
- Charts and graphs
- Maps and plans
- GIFs – short animated images without sound
Examples of Images and Visuals Being Used in E-Learning Courses
Here are just some examples of images and visuals being used in e-learning courses. In each case, they contribute to the learning experience and help improve outcomes including topic understanding, knowledge retention, and return on investment.
- Photographs to make a page more visually attractive
- Product photos to make the content more relevant
- Timelines using both text and graphics to show the history of a company, event, concept, product, etc
- Graphs or charts to make it easier for learners to digest statistics and figures
- Infographics to explain a complex idea or to present a range of different facts and figures
- Diagrams or graphics to show how a product, piece of equipment, component, or machine works
- GIFs to show a component’s moving parts
- Product design diagrams, a map of a location, or a plan of a building
8 Benefits of Using Images and Visuals in E-Learning Courses
Images and visuals will significantly improve your e-learning courses. Here are the eight main benefits of not only using them, but using them in the most optimised and effective way possible.
1. Make Your E-Learning Course More Visually Appealing
While there is often too much emphasis placed on this compared to the other benefits on this list, making your e-learning courses visually appealing is still important. A more visually appealing course will improve engagement rates, make the training less of a burden to the learner, and enhance the learning experience.
2. Makes E-Learning Courses More Relevant to the Learner
Providing you use the right images, you can make the content or concept you are explaining more relevant to the learner. For example, imagine an e-learning course that involves explaining the main facts of the Burj Khalifa building in Dubai, including its appearance. An image of the building along with text will be much more relevant to the learner than the text alone.
3. Give Learners a Better Understanding of Complex Topics
Images can be very powerful when the concept or topic you are explaining is complex or challenging.
For example, imagine an e-learning course that includes an element that shows a user how to complete a task on a complex piece of software. Including screenshots of the process highlighting the fields the user needs to complete and where they need to click will make it easier for the learner to understand and follow.
4. Enhance Navigation
Graphics can transform boring and sometimes difficult to follow navigational elements into a process that looks attractive and that is easier to follow. So, instead of having a list of links to click, create a scene and make graphical elements in the scene clickable.
5. Makes It Easier for Learners to Understand and then Retain Information
Research shows that visual cues help learners retain information. One of the reasons for this is that visuals help to prevent cognitive overload. Cognitive overload is where you present too much information for the learner to process and retain. Using an image instead can improve results.
6. Makes It Easier to Identify Patterns, Trends, and Differences
Visuals are also highly effective at helping learners understand trends, figures, and patterns. The best way to show a country’s GDP figures over time, for example, is by using a line graph. This is much more interesting and easier to understand than a table of figures or, even worse, a paragraph of text.
Visuals are also good at showing differences. For example, an image of the UAE and Australia side by side is better at showing the geographical size difference than simply trying to describe this with text.
7. Can Be Faster for Learners to Process Than Text
For many of the reasons above, visuals can speed up the learning process. Infographics are a great example. The amount of information in the average infographic would take several paragraphs to explain in text, plus an infographic is much easier to understand. It looks better too.
8. Improve Return on Investment
In many respects, this is the most important of all the benefits on this list as they all contribute to improving the return from your investment in the e-learning course.
More specifically, images and visuals are worth the additional effort it may take to make them as unique, relevant, informative, and effective as possible.
Word of Caution – Copyright
As you can see, there are no downsides to using images, particularly custom-made images, in your e-learning content. There is an issue you need to be aware of, however – copyright.
With internet search engines, it couldn’t be easier to find images. However, you should only ever use images that you have the copyright for. This usually means images that fall into one of the following three categories:
- Images you create or commission
- Images you purchase
- Images that are free to use
Images in the last category are often referred to as having a Creative Commons Licence. This means you can use the images, but there are usually conditions attached such as crediting the creator.
Whichever of the above category of images you use in your e-learning courses, visuals are essential to success.