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Why Learning Professionals Need to Care About Visual Literacy


Thu Aug 27 2015

Why Learning Professionals Need to Care About Visual Literacy

This is the first post in a series on visuals and learning. To introduce the topic, let’s take a look at the comic below. Indeed, I think a visual medium for a visual topic is fitting, and I especially appreciate how comics integrate words and images to effectively teach. 

According to Richard E. Mayer, professor of psychology at the University of California, Santa Barbara, people learn better from words and pictures than from words alone.  While there is a strong body of research in support of using a combination of words and images in academic materials, it’s only effective when that pairing is complementary.


And although many people embrace the saying, “A picture speaks 1,000 words,” L&D practitioners developing learning materials are not always able to find or produce effective instructional visuals. In other words, not every instructional picture is worth 1,000 words. What’s more, if we’re not careful, the images we use to reduce someone’s cognitive load may actually contribute to an increased cognitive load!

Future posts will delve further into this exciting, and sometimes challenging, world of visual instruction. I hope you will take part in the dialogue.

So, what questions do you have about instructional visuals?

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