The higher education landscape is shifting and institutions are facing a decline in overall enrollment. Rather than opting for a traditional classroom experience, students today have come to expect greater flexibility in deciding when, where and how to learn. In fact, it is predicted that by 2019 at least 50 percent of all classes will be delivered online and that percentage will only continue to increase. To adjust to student expectations and keep enrollment up, higher education institutions must offer online courses or blended classrooms to compete with other colleges that already have those options.

Using technology in the classroom is beneficial as it can serve as a solution for meeting students’ expectations while also keeping enrollment up. For example, instructors can use technology to engage with students through visual communications and learning. Visual communication can broadly be defined as the use of images, photos, videos, animation, text, voice narration, and music to clearly convey a message, story or information.

In education, visual communication is especially important, as 90 percent of all information transmitted to the brain is visual. Using technology to create visual educational content can set a solid foundation for students to succeed. Here are six reasons why course visuals are an important part of learning today:

1. Create visuals so that student confusion can be prevented. Instructors that teach the same course year after year can easily identify when the content becomes especially challenging for students. Prepare an infographic or FAQ video ahead of time to share with students when it comes time to teach those difficult concepts. Demos and annotated screenshots are also effective approaches for walking students through examples or specific assignments. Visuals can even guide students who many not even know where to begin or what initial questions to ask.

90 percent of all info transmitted to the brain is #visual. Here's how 2 use it 4 #onlinelearning

2. Create visual to reduce repetitive questions. Instructors are likely to receive similar questions from multiple students. Rather than pushing out the same explanation repeatedly, a better solution is to respond with a visual. Create a short infographic or voice narration to avoid recreating the same textual response.

3. Create visuals to reduce the amount of questions. Visual communication can also eliminate the total amount of questions, responses or clarifications between students and instructors. When presenting information or offering an explanation, visuals allow instructors to be more concise. Ideally, a student’s question can be answered on the first try when a textual explanation is paired with an image or completely replaced with a short video.

In fact, visuals can increase retention by 50 percent. With video, students have the ability to review and revisit the information from the instructor as often as needed.

(Next page: 3 more ways visual communication can aid student learning)

About the Author:

Ryan Eash is the Learning and Development Specialist for TechSmith, the go-to company for visual communication, where he is responsible for designing, implementing, and maintaining training curriculum to help educators succeed with image- and video-creation tools. Ryan is also currently an adjunct faculty member at Lenoir-Rhyne University in Hickory, NC.


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