Are the slides that make up your eLearning lessons text-heavy? Images are an often overlooked component of a good eLearning course. Sadly, when images are added to eLearning, they often have little to do with the content being presented or, just as sad, are of poor quality.
You've probably heard the saying that a picture is worth 1,000 words. But consider this: people process information presented in an image far faster than text. According to Mike Parkinson, founder of Billion Dollar Graphics, "visuals are processed 60,000 times faster than text, graphics quickly affect our emotions, and our emotions greatly affect our decision-making."
Parkinson went on to say "Study after study, experiment after experiment, has proven that graphics have immense influence over the audience's perception of the subject matter and, by association, the presenter (the person, place, or thing most associated with the graphic) because of these neurological and evolutionary factors. The audience's understanding of the presented material, opinion of the presented material and the presenter, and their emotional state are crucial factors in any decision they will make. Without a doubt, graphics greatly influence an audience's decisions."
There's something very helpful about having a pictorial representation of the concept to hang your hat on. An image anchors a concept in a way that words often can't. While text forces you to create an image in your brain from scratch, introducing a picture gives us a jumping-off point, showing us a tangible concept which can be instantly grasped and further explored through text or audio.
For many of the same reasons above, a good image can also increase a learner's comprehension and recall. Instead of trying to remember the nebulous image that they produced in their mind's eye, they can simply call up the more tangible picture that they physically saw and didn't have to manufacture themselves.
Any journalist worth their salt will tell you that a story without a picture lacks the punch it might otherwise have. For instance, if I were to describe to you a natural disaster that occurred in some foreign country, you might be pretty shocked by the words alone. However, it wouldn't be quite as real to you as if I included a picture of the rubble, injured people, and all-around devastation.
Similarly, I could try to tell you how much I love dogs and try all day to convince you to love them too, but it wouldn't have nearly the same impact as if I just showed you this...
How quickly did your heart melt? How long did it take for the word "awwwwwww" to involuntarily escape your mouth? Instantly, right? And now we both love dogs! (Thanks to Mike Parkinson for inspiring this example.)
Punctuating the Text
Finally, eLearning images also work wonders when it comes to breaking up the text and giving the eye a chance to rest. When you read, your eyes scan a wall of words trying to squeeze out each nugget of information. If done for an extended amount of time, it can get exhausting. But throw in some pictures periodically...
... and it breaks the monotony of a text-heavy lesson.