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Monday, April 01, 2019

The Importance of Visualization to Effective E-Learning by Ainsley Lawrence

Today I have Ainsley Lawrence guest blogging. Please be sure to check out her unique guest post. Guest posts are always welcome, please contact me.

The Importance of Visualization to Effective E-Learning 

The modern world is filled with technology that makes everything easier. Automated driving assistants, bill payment options online, shopping on Amazon, many new channels of communicating with family and friends — modern tech is constantly streamlining how we do things.

The field of education has been among the most dramatically affected by this evolution. While tech in the classroom — iPads being used for music education, for example — is an obvious manifestation of this reshaping of the educational landscape, perhaps the most transformative shift has been from physical classrooms to e-learning environments.

However, while there is an abundance of tools available to help teachers communicate with students online, one casualty of the shift from classrooms to computers has been the loss of visual feedback. If instructors do not make the effort to provide a visual element, online learners are often left without this critical piece to the learning process. Fortunately, there are several different ways that educators can provide quality visuals throughout the e-learning experience.

PowerPoints, Infographics, and Interactive Textbooks  

Some of the most common forms of online visualization are infographics and charts. Even if using a PowerPoint presentation sounds a bit archaic at this point, the opportunity to provide even basic visuals during an online session or lecture can be invaluable. 

But the advantages of a good visual goes beyond a simple PowerPoint presentation. Infographics — in essence, a visual representation of important information — are an incredible teaching tool that have exploded in popularity in recent years. This comes as no surprise, as 90 percent of the information that our brains receive is visual in nature. Visuals are known to improve both retention and learning by an incredible 400 percent. Thus, an infographic can be very helpful in an e-learning environment.

Textbooks themselves can be brought to life online as well. For example, Brown University student Daniel Kunin created an interactive online textbook of sorts, known as “Seeing Theory,” which basically breaks down many of the most complex elements of the subject of statistics into tangible, understandable visuals.

Not only is the online resource filled with eye-popping information, though — it’s also interactive. It allows visual learners to become active participants in the learning process by giving them information-rich visuals to give context to abstract concepts. Interactive information has an incredible synergy that can facilitate learning in ways that are hard to reproduce in other settings.   


Timelines are an incredible way to promote e-learning as well. Presenting information, such as historical names and events, chronologically in a visual representation is helpful. It allows instructors to lay out when each person or occurrence being studied took place in relation to one another, as well as their connection to the present day. 

Virtual Reality     

Online visualization lends itself perfectly to the concept of simulations of all kinds. Simulations may involve virtual or augmented reality to present learning situations in which students can exercise their knowledge can be one of the best ways to provide hands-on experience with virtually no dangers or risks. 

From going on e-trips to creating virtual classrooms, there are many different ways to utilize this growing medium of information. Take a look at a few examples for how you can use VR in e-learning to spur your imagination.   


The plethora of apps available provides a tremendous resource for all teachers to use. The sheer quantity of options at this point allows educators of all different teaching styles to find something that fits their specific approach. 

One excellent example of how simplistic and yet effective an educational application can be comes in the form of The Wolfram Demonstrations Project. Developed by scientist Stephen Wolfram, the project provides a user-friendly way to create interactive visualizations for any level of mathematics. Anything from simple problems to complex algorithms can be turned into sophisticated mini-applications that can be instrumental in helping facilitate learning.

Putting the Students in Control   

Another way to bring a visual element to the online experience is by having students track their own progress. Good record-keeping in the classroom is extremely important for teachers, but when it comes to each student’s individual progress, passing part of the responsibility onto them as well, and in a visual manner no less, can have wonderful effects.

If a student is made aware of their own progress via charts, bars, calendars, and so on, it can stimulate them to strive for success, as well as teach them the importance of things like organization and record-keeping in general.

Another way to include students is to teach them to create mind maps that help them visually keep track of the things they are learning, what they have scheduled, and so on. While a mind map in its essence is simply a collection of organized information, the visual element can be a game changer for visually inclined learners.

Sprucing Up the E-Learning Environment 

From infographics to timelines, simulations, apps, and more, there are many different ways to introduce visuals into the e-learning process. Remember that this visual appeal also extends beyond practical applications. While useful visuals are essential, it can also be beneficial to include aesthetic appeal in your presentations as well. For more tips and tricks regarding designing eLearning visuals, check out the eBook “62 Tips on Graphic Design, UI/UX Design, and Visualization for eLearning.”  

Many thanks to Ainsley Lawrence.
Enjoy your reading!