SHIFT's eLearning Blog

Our blog provides the best practices, tips, and inspiration for corporate training, instructional design, eLearning and mLearning.

To visit the Spanish blog, click here
    All Posts

    4 Types of Visuals You Can Use in eLearning, And Why They Work


    As our world becomes more media-oriented, it grows increasingly clear that people show a preference for visual information over text. Graphs, diagrams, and other formats are more accessible than a block of text. However, poorly-presented data can do more harm than good. So, when using any of these visualization methods for eLearning, make sure they:

    • are clear and coherent;
    • aren't redundant
    • add value to learning;
    • aid retention and recall;
    • and, of course, are within the scope of your budget.

    To get started, here are four main types you can use.


    Common-Visualization-Techniques-Will-Enhance-Your-eLearning-v2

    1) Flow charts

    Flow charts (or flow diagrams) are graphics that represent a series of steps or processes. They are especially useful to visualize a multi-step process, a series of conditional outcomes, or a sequences of causes and effects. Flow charts work as visualization techniques for eLearning because they provide the learner with a visual relationship that's easier to remember than text.

    Some examples of ideal flowchart situations include describing a process, walking someone through technical troubleshooting, and depicting a series of connected historical events.

    In eLearning, you have options beyond just presenting the complete flowchart at once. Try making it interactive: have the next steps only be revealed once the learner has walked through the previous decision points, or present them with a desired outcome and allow them to experiment themselves with the choices needed to get there.

    Flow charts are very simple to create. If the eLearning software you are using doesn't have an easy method already, use these tools:

    2) Pie Charts and Bar Graphs

    When presenting data references to your students, it's a good idea to use graphs and charts. They convey the quantitative relationship in a different way, suiting learners who do not connect as well to written numbers. They also make content easier to read and help make the relationships between the data easier to comprehend

    Not all charts suit all data, however. Here are some basic guidelines:

    • Pie charts show percentages of a whole - how much government spending went to each department last year, for example.
    • Vertical bar charts are good for showing change over time - total spending over each of the last ten years.
    • Horizontal bar charts are most useful for comparing quantities - the government spending as dollars rather than percentages.

    In all cases, be careful not to add so much detail the graph becomes confusing. Label clearly, and remember that when categories get irrelevantly small, you can group them into one "Other" category to keep things clear.

    Useful resources:

    Slideshare: Data Visualization Technique - How to Design Charts and Graphs

    Why Most People's Charts and Graphs Look Like Crap

    3) Cycle Diagram

    Cycle diagrams are similar to flow charts, but they show movement specifically that is cyclical and repeated in nature. Many processes, from the carbon cycle in nature to the flow of money in the economy, fit this pattern.

    As with flow charts, use these diagrams to demonstrate cause and effect relationships and explain how the cycle is self-perpetuating. And as with other charts and graphs, keep to the essentials and avoid overloading on detail.

    Useful resources:

    Here are 10 simple rules to help you convey your data more effectively.

    How to make Awesome Diagrams for your Slides

    4) Timelines

    As eLearning professionals, we can effectively use different data visualization methods to complement the training content. All too often, students encounter history piecemeal, outside of context, which makes it more difficult to connect individual events to larger movements and themes. Data alone is powerful, but wrapped with a good visual story, (like a timeline) will make it hard for learners to forget.

    Using timelines provides a structure in which to show historical progression. With eLearning, these can even be interactive, whether as an activity to place items on the timeline or with information appearing when an event is clicked. A few other suggestions: placing the timeline on a map can show the relation between events, places, and times; for events within the student's lifetime, consider creating parallel timelines with their life events on one side and world events on the other.

    Useful resources:

    The Art Of Timelines For Learning by Connie Malamed

    10 Creative Ways to Use Free Timeline Makers in eLearning


    visual design crash course



    REFERENCES:

    Writing for Success, v.1.0 by Scott Mc Lean

    Using Visuals To Make Information Come Alive By Roger C. Parker



     

    Related Posts

    Key Questions For Choosing The Right e-Learning Platform For Your Company

    The implementation of an e-learning platform can be an excellent investment for the growth and development of the company and its employees. However, choosing the right solution can be a challenge for HR directors and learning leaders.

    5 Reasons Why Learners Forget Your Online Training Content

    "Training doesn’t help one jot if people can’t remember it in the real world"  —Teresa Ewington Our biggest goal in training is to get students to remember the material. To do this more effectively, it helps to learn what causes the mind to forget things. By getting a clear view of what makes a person forget, we can incorporate key elements into our programs that help counteract those causes.  Forgetting is an important function. It helps a human filter out trivial things that would clog the brain and override important information. Forgetting helps ease the pain of tragedy and enables a person to continue living without constant sadness. There are times, however, when we not only need to remember but need to do so at a time when the information is useful. Let's take a look at the five most common reasons your corporate learners forget your training.

    The Empowered Learner: 4 Things L&D Professionals Need to Know

    In today's fast-paced, technology-driven world, it's crucial to update our training methods to meet the needs of modern learners. This goes beyond simply incorporating technology and addressing shortened attention spans. It's about equipping the workforce with the tools they need to feel satisfied in their jobs and to be valuable assets to the company as a whole. To achieve this, it's essential to say goodbye to traditional methods such as long lectures and dense presentations. These methods are not only tedious but also ineffective. Today's learners thrive on engagement, interaction, and personalization. By adopting new methods that focus on active learning and providing real-life examples, we can ensure that our workforce is equipped with the skills and knowledge they need to excel in their roles.