In 1913, a newspaper in Ohio carried an advertisement for the Piqua Auto Supply House of Piqua using only words, not images, to invite prospective customers to see its products in their store. The caption to the ad said “One Look Is Worth A Thousand Words,”, thus inspiring the idiom – A picture is worth a thousand words. While this story may or may not be true, one cannot deny the truth in the adage.
Today, we have come to accept “a picture is worth a thousand words” as an undeniable truth because of the ability of a picture to convey so much meaning with minimum explanation. Clipsarts, gifs, charts, graphs, vectors and other forms of image and video are considered extremely effective to convey ideas where words run the risk of falling short. Long paragraphs can be condensed, difficult concepts can be reshaped and new ideas can be visually communicated with the help of simple images and visuals. Visuals allow you to make the complex simple, thus easier to follow.
So what must one keep in mind when selecting visuals for your open online course?
1) Your Pictures Should Not Be The Focus But Should Guide Learner Focus
Your graphics are not meant to be the star of the show. They should not distract learners from what is really important – the topic of your learning materials.
The perfect image should help the students feel more immersed or motivated without drawing attention to itself.
2) Determine The Purpose Of Your Graphic.
Each visual included in an open online courses should have a purpose. It could be an educational graphic or simply an aesthetic accessory for your screen, but identifying this purpose for every graphic you use is essential. Many experts believe that visuals such as a decorative background, clever cliparts add to the aesthetic appeal and are important but the real purpose behind your graphics selection should be to help your learners with their learning experience. According to this school of thought, one should focus on the learning value of the visuals. Hence the visual elements should be limited to flowcharts, infographics, or other detailed images that illustrate a process and keep strictly decorative elements to a minimum.
3) Consistency Of Images
Credible open online courses should have a uniform look and feel. This essentially means that your selected visuals need to conform to the style of your course and need to be consistent. Using mixed visuals such as clip arts, photos and gifs together can make the page look random, confusing the learner and obstructing the learning process.
4) Always Opt For Quality Over Quantity
A common mistake made by course designers is to use an excessive amount of graphics to make up for a lack of text or to boost the visual aspect of the modules. However, experts suggest opting for quality and quantity. Using fewer relevant images can be more impactful rather than cluttering your page with images.
The use of graphics and images are a great way to create course content. Using the right visual can engage and motivate your learners to broaden their horizons as they dive into the intellectually stimulating world of online learning.