Visuals in a learning environment are essential, and the statistics prove this point. Research from Indiana University shows that people following illustrated instructions do 323% better than those that are just reading text.
Not to mention that visuals help with the retention of information – people actually retain 65% of information if it is served up with relevant visuals, compared with 10% of what they hear.
Which is why educators should consistently be brushing up on their visual communication skills, for the sake of the learner. Fariza Khalid, one of our users in Bangi, Malaysia – is an avid supporter of this point.
Bringing visual skills to the classroom
A senior lecturer with the Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia, Fariza teaches educational technology, computers in education, and photography at the undergraduate level – as well as trends and research methods for ICT in education, information and communication to masters students.
She first came across Piktochart in her search for an easy-to-use tool to create a poster to promote a training course. The below screenshot is one of the posters examples that Fariza made using Piktochart.
Eventually, her relationship with Piktochart evolved into creating posters for her e-learning workshops to classroom presentations, and to making posters for research exhibitions. The best part about Piktochart according to Fariza? It allowed her to download a PDF version of her posters to print in the A1 format.
She believes that the skill to put together visuals in the education space is increasing in importance – and this has to do with the emerging generation’s preference for visual communication.
“In the 21st century, more Gen-Z are entering higher education institutions and the skill is becoming more crucial. Having a shorter attention span, this generation has a tendency to avoid reading large amounts of text,” said Fariza and points out that infographics can be an ideal solution to this preference.
When taking a look at her students’ work, Fariza realized that many of it was still mostly text-based. “Every semester, students will do numbers of presentations but as far as I am concerned, most of them were still developing wordy, lengthy presentations where no infographic skills were clearly demonstrated,” she remembered.
PiktoTourBangi, a crash course on infographics
And so Fariza took it upon herself to teach her students the power of visual communication. As it happens, she was also the coordinator of a new course called “Innovation and Technology in Teaching and Learning” which also included a module on graphic design.
“It was high time for me to initiate PiktoTourBangi to raise the awareness among my students of how cool it is to master infographic design. I consider this little step as a starting point for them to explore the skills and to be continuously applied in their daily work,” she said.
Fariza’s event, called “Tips on designing a good pictographic,” gathered 158 attendees, a mixture of undergraduate and graduate students, and lecturers from other faculties joined in on the learning experience as well. She first expected only 90 attendees, so the response was certainly an overwhelming surprise.
— Fariza Khalid (@_FarizaKhalid) September 14, 2017
Turns out, Fariza’s students felt challenged, not by the idea of visual communication, but by their lack of design skills and access to easy-to-use tools. In this way, PiktoTourBangi would serve as an introduction to the “basic concepts” required to design an infographic, especially when it comes to fonts, colors, images and white space.
Why visual communication needs to be taught
Fariza is a firm believer that a person’s ability to create effective visual materials is directly linked to the way they perceive structure cognitively. Which is why she thinks that visual communication is a skill that very much needs to be taught.
“I am not exaggerating when I say that the skills required to produce meaningful visuals take a higher order of thinking skills.
Prior to designing the visuals, one has to brainstorm the related content and also has to arrange the flow of ideas in a sensitive way. It is a skill that has to be learned, mastered, and practiced.”
To Fariza’s point, while everyone absolutely can create a beautiful visual with the right tool and set of templates, not everyone can make one that’s effective. This is why incorporating visual communication lessons into a learning environment is essential.
And thanks to Piktochart users like Fariza, students in Bangi are upgrading their visual communication skills – one infographic at a time.