Visual design encourages positivity for better learning
Believe it or not, research shows that putting people in a positive mood will make them more creative, more flexible in their thinking, more thorough, and better learners (Peters, D 2014). For instance, starting a presentation with humour helps focus the audience’s attention for what’s to follow.
Likewise, in e-learning, the use of anecdotes or digital storytelling techniques, such as the comic-style approach used in The SAFE Files, is also a fun and effective way to optimise learner engagement.
The S.A.F.E. Files uses narrative devices including backstories to create interest and activate optimal neural pathways for learning.
Visual design manages details
We know that too much text on screen can be difficult to read and distract learners from effective information retention. But what do you do if a large amount of text is critical to meeting your learning objectives and there is absolutely no way to cut it down any further?
This is where visual design or, more specifically, interactive graphics can be used to reduce cognitive overload by breaking down the perception of text heavy content into smaller, more digestible information bites. For instance, by using ‘hotspots’ (small pop-up style interactions) organised within a visual setting or menu, learners can access quantities of information in such a way that without being off put by big slabs of text.
This Camp Quality induction effectively chunks and organises important information within a virtual ‘camp’ using hotspots.
Visual design highlights important information
Good visual hierarchies point learners to critical information by arranging content in such a way that allows them to quickly skim through and absorb information in an efficient manner. This can be achieved by using typography, colour, size, alignment and images/graphics. Elements of the highest rank in the visual hierarchy are most noticeable. Hence, headings or sub-headings are usually represented with a larger font, different colour or in bold.
Learning Seat’s Whistleblowers course illustrates the effectiveness of typographical hierarchies while the use of pull quotes further highlights critical information.
Visual design improves usability
Good visual design makes interfaces intuitive and easy to use so learners can focus on content rather than worrying about how to navigate through the course. For instance, this can be achieved by using consistent navigation throughout a course such as ensuring that the back and next buttons are strictly the same (in terms of size, colour, position etc.) on every screen.
Animations on buttons can also be used to draw the learner’s attention to what it is they need to do. Contrast can also be given to selectable buttons to create a distinction from other graphics, making it more apparent to learners where they are required to interact with the course.
TAC’s, The Safe System, uses graphic buttons with completion ticks to clearly signpost to learners both what they’ve done and what they need to do in a visually appealing way.
Reference: Peters, D 2014, Interface design for learning: Design strategies for learning experiences (Voices that matters), New Riders Publishing, USA.