We are living in a golden age of visual communication, and not just because of all the video-streaming services and photo-sharing tools we have at our disposal. In education, compelling visual content such as instructional videos, easy-to-understand graphics, and voice-over slideshows have become a major part of traditional, blended, and online learning.
It isn’t just another fad in the digital revolution. Visual communication may represent the future of education, as it helps provide unparalleled learning experiences.
Consider the data. Statistics show that visual communication is an incredibly effective form of instruction. According to this collection of data from Creately, communicating with visuals increases information retention and comprehension by 50 percent. It helps simplify complex information and concepts, allowing people to make sense of things quickly. Compared to input from the other senses, a larger portion of our brain is engaged when processing information from our eyes.
Luckily, the tools to create, distribute, and view instructional videos and graphics are more convenient and available than ever before. They’ve also become the new normal: Students now expect to have lectures and tutorials delivered through online videos, infographics, and other forms of content that blend images with text and audio narration.
That means visuals are an increasingly important part of any learning environment, as they dramatically improve information retention, engagement with the course material, and the overall student experience.
To be sure, instructional videos, animations, infographics, and other visual communication techniques have become a “great-to-have” in traditional educational settings. But when it comes to the flipped learning concept, effective visual communication is absolutely essential.
Why Visual Communication Is Crucial for Effective Flipped Learning
In flipped learning, visual communication becomes more significant because it’s often the primary avenue of instruction. You could argue that all the benefits of flipped learning trickle down from independent study of the subject material at home. Nothing enables mastery more than presenting information in an engaging, effective, and easy-to-understand way.
Independent study at home is the cornerstone of the flipped classroom. Class time isn’t “lecture time,” as it’s not the setting in which students download information from the instructor. Instead, classroom sessions are devoted to applying the knowledge each student learns during at-home studies, while collaborating with their fellow students.
Visual content brings more benefit than simply enabling deeper understanding of your teachings. This kind of content can also make your students happier by helping them study materials at their own pace and rewind and review them when they need clarification. That leads to fewer questions for the instructor, which saves time for teachers and students alike. No more endless back-and-forth emails are needed to explain certain concepts.
Creating Visual Content Is Easier Than You Think
That brings us to the seemingly bad news: The idea of creating instructional videos and other visual content is intimidating. After all, you likely pursued a career in teaching to influence and enrich the minds of your students, not to create videos and infographics. Learning how to use expensive graphic-design software, video-editing suites, and other A/V production tools can represent a serious investment of time and money — time and money you may not have.
But all that only seems like bad news. There are a variety of inexpensive and easy-to-use tools that allow teachers to create compelling visual content with little to no training. They’re designed specifically for instructors and casual users, not multimedia professionals.
That ease-of-use allows teachers to concentrate on what they do best: Teach! The only difference is that they’re presenting materials in compelling and interesting new ways.
Solving Classic Classroom Problems With Brand-New Solutions
If you’re not already convinced of the benefits of visual communication, consider this: The right visual materials help instructors to solve problems that have been impossible (or at least tedious) to address.
If you’re a veteran professor, you’ve undoubtedly noticed certain concepts are particularly difficult for pupils to comprehend at first pass. Maybe even the second, third, or 15th pass. This becomes a common source of frustration for students and teachers alike.
But savvy teachers can preemptively eliminate recurring questions with visuals that address common queries and sticking points. Now, instead of those topics becoming a source of confusion, visual explainers can make the same concepts memorable takeaways for your students.
“Virtual” Doesn’t Mean “Impersonal”
Although a flipped classroom means you may not be delivering lectures in person, these types of creative visual presentations can forge a deeper connection with your students. In fact, a flipped learning environment can cover two of the most important factors when it comes to information retention.
It all comes back to another important statistic: People remember 80 percent of the information that they both see and do.
Of course, a flipped learning environment enables hands-on opportunities to put ideas into practice within the classroom. Students within a flipped learning environment get to apply their knowledge and collaborate with other students, right there in the classroom. That takes care of the doing.
Effective visual content outside the classroom can similarly take care of the seeing. By combining the efficiency of visual communication when presenting information with the in-class applications of a flipped learning environment, your curriculum can be truly unforgettable.