It is disheartening for teachers to know that only a small percent of their ‘lectures’ are absorbed by students. Engaging your students can be even worse with e-learning if the only source of information is via text. Does that make you feel down? Here is the exciting news then… there are dozens of strategies to help engage your students. Today we are going to look at imagery.
Let’s start with a test. On my recent trip to the zoo, I took a photo of a peacock. I could describe what a peacock looks like, or show you my image. Out of the two items below (a photo or text) what will you remember most?
Most people will remember the image and very little of the text. The text, is describing what is in the photo, so as far as giving information, it serves the same purpose.
Seeing is often taken for granted. Humans have an amazing capacity to remember visual detail. When shown an image, humans will often remember the detail of up to 90%, weeks, months and even years later.
Using images/icons to identify different information
Story one: I had a staff member once, who walked into my office and asked which folder had the meeting minutes in it. He commented that ‘all the folders looked the same’. The fact that the folder with the meeting minutes in it said ‘meeting minutes’ didn’t register to him because I had placed 20 identical blue folders in a row with text labels on them.
Conclusion: Label your information with coloured tabs or images
Story two: A teacher told me once that she had submitted a proposal to her manager 4 times. The proposals were rejected each time. The 5th time, she put the same information into a graph and the proposal was accepted. From then on, she continued to use graphs and had very positive results. She discovered that her manager was too busy to read all of the text.
Conclusion: Use graphs to explain information where possible
Using an image as a metaphor: Often our language betrays us by promoting perspectives we don’t actually espouse.
Metaphors can be used for creating rapport and for communicating the nature of shared and unshared experience. A symbolic image allows the student to think and draw conclusions, rather than having facts passively fed to them.
Conclusion: Images don’t always need to be portraying the subject matter. They can be in the form of a symbol or metaphor and still be effective in getting the point across.
Not all of us are ‘visual learners’, as such, and yet most people nowadays are busy and demand faster and more effective learning processes.