Monday, January 28, 2013

Epic's images tip sheet

Are your images helping your learners?

In Epic's January 2013 newsletter, I came across their tip sheet on images and their usefulness in e-learning:

It ties in with my previous post on Daniel Willingham's question about the usefulness of the concept of learning styles. Epic's tips include the idea that an illustration can really help to convey some information more effectively than text or audio (picture speaks a thousand words etc). There's also the fact that decorative images (those that do not help to convey the meaning) are actually a hindrance.

It's great that Epic have highlighted this: I've seen a lot of page-turning e-learning content that 'forces' layouts that require picture on the left or right, so the designer has to upload 'something'.

I might consider putting an image of key words instead of pictures when I am forced by certain tools to do this.

One thing to add though, is that even though images may be more effective at conveying some learning, you should consider learners who are visually impaired. ALT text is a simple way of ensuring that learners who are using screen readers will have a brief description of the picture read back to them. Where a picture is complex (eg an infographic), it's even more important to accompany it with text that can be read back to the learner.

This may seem time-consuming, but there's a quick and easy way to turn your image into something more useable - with something like Screenr, Camtasia or some other screen capture software. You can talk about what you're seeing on the screen and record it. Creating this video means visually impaired learners can listen to what they have to learn, and other learners may find it more meaningful too.

I personally find infographics can be too complex for me to make sense of - I 'zoom' in on one part at a time to cope. By pressing Ctrl + on the keyboard, you can zoom into a pdf or website so that when you are using screen capture software, you present a bit of information at a time.

Why not turn things on its head and ask learners to explain an infographic with Screenr?

And it's worth giving Xerte Online Toolkits (XOT) a plug at this point. This interactive e-learning content creation tool has a plethora of page templates to choose from, and is highly accessible. Find out more about XOT from the Nottingham University web site, and if you'd like a hosted account for a modest fee, contact

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