Using Pictures, Graphics, and Multimedia
Graphics, pictures, and multimedia elements can enhance instruction, no matter its format.
Basic Design Concepts
There are a number of design concepts that can make instruction more engaging for learners.
- If designing online training, if possible, present one item per screen. Do not overwhelm the learner with multiple learning elements per screen.
- Use visuals that are appropriate. Do not clutter the screen or the page with unnecessary visuals. This will distract learners.
- When utilizing text, be sure to use a common typeface and be consistent. Do not mix typefaces.
What Visual Elements Work Best in Instructional Design?
There are some best practices to follow when designing instruction involving which design elements work best.
- Graphics: Graphics are useful for illustrating ideas or concepts. For example, when discussing different countries' GDPs, students might be more apt to remember the figures if each country's flag was shown on screen with the GDP number.
- Video: Video might be utilized when you want to showcase an expert on a topic. This could be in an online course or in a classroom setting, when the person cannot be there in person. Use short clips if possible, to hold the learner's attention (unless the entire course is video based). If you were creating a sales course and had access to a video clip of a well-known salesperson sharing tips, it would be useful to add it to the course.
- Infographics: Infographics can help visually illustrate a process, especially one with many steps. A flowchart is an infographic that could be used to show the steps in the process of creating a formula in Excel.
- Animations: Animations can be useful in online courses to show dynamic content, for example, how to edit a photo with photo-editing software.
Visual Design Best Practices
One of the most basic best practices for visual design is the acronym CRAP. CRAP stands for:
Contrast: Avoid using elements that are too similar, for example, the same size font, the same color shapes, or the same line widths. Contrast can help your learner differentiate between different text and graphic elements. Contrast shows the learner the element that is clearly dominant.
Repetition: Be sure to repeat certain elements throughout the learning, to provide coherence. For example, if you are using yellow boxes to show learner tips, repeat the use of yellow boxes throughout the course; don't suddenly switch to green boxes. In the same way, using a color, shape, or font theme throughout the learning can help organization of your content. Learners will recognize that certain elements represent certain things, such as the yellow box representing tips.
Alignment: In both text and graphic placement, be sure that every element on your screen or page is intentionally placed. If text on one screen is left-justified and on the next screen it is centered, this can cause learner confusion.
Proximity: When placing similar items on a page, especially graphic items, group them together so that they become "one unit." Proper proximity can help organize information for the student.
It is important to make conscious decisions when creating content, whether it be text-based or graphic content.