visual communication in online course

How to Make Visual Communication in Online Courses Effective

eLearning Trends Online Education

What would you remember more of? The paragraph or the picture?

“Luna [1] had decorated her bedroom ceiling with five beautifully painted faces: Harry, Ron, Hermione, Ginny, and Neville. They were not moving as the portraits at Hogwarts moved, but there was a certain magic about them all the same: Harry thought they breathed. What appeared to be fine golden chains wove around the pictures, linking them together, but after examining them for a minute or so, Harry realized that the chains were one word, repeated a thousand times in golden ink: friends . . . friends . . . friends . . .”


Mona Lisa

A picture is worth a thousand words. Isn’t it? If you are like most people, you would have noticed Mona Lisa first and then gone on to read the para written above. In the world of learning and education, illustrations were given in religious texts in ancient times. Some of these illustrations would depict a particular portion of a biblical story in an image. Illustrations gained fame and popularity with modern books since the 1500s.

The point being…

Visuals deliver a clear, unified message and provide a consistent experience to the reader or learner. Learning is a complicated process. Moreover, it is considered successful when one is able to recite/ recall/ replicate the same content, in a different or similar setting. In case you are unable to recollect information you take some time and resource to revise it either online or offline.’ There are software to create online courses with all kinds of visuals.

Adding relevant visuals to content has been found to improve learning by up to 400 percent. (1) That is why learning material that has photos/diagrams in the course helps students to recall better as compared to those students whose textbooks had no picture or photos.

Would you be able to remember Mona Lisa’s face tomorrow clearly? Honestly, people forget up to 50 percent of what they learn within an hour and up to 70 percent within a day and up to 90 percent with a month. In the world of education, one of the most significant challenges is to develop content that sticks.

Visual communication is imperative to create high quality engaging and exciting online courses. The effective collaborated use of pictures, fonts, colors, designs, videos, among others is instrumental in bringing life to a mundane text and making it interactive. Irrespective of the learner’s location or the subject he/she is studying, visually engaging content is bound to have a positive impact on his learning and retention. You may create an online course with impactful visuals for learners to benefit from.

What are the benefits of visual communication?

Greater appeal and receptivity

Humans are more receptive to visual content. According to a social science research network, 65% of people are visual learners making it one of the best ways to deliver messages. Around 40 percent of learners respond better to visual information than text alone (1). A study by Adobe found that Facebook posts with images produce 650% higher engagement than regular text posts. (1)

Saves time

Visual communication saves time by relaying information faster. The brain processes images 60,000 times faster than texts (3).

Improved retention

Human brains receive 90% of all information as visual chunks, and they remember 80% of what they see and 20% of what they read. A study conducted on active learning showed that 10-20% of the participants were able to remember spoken and written information while over 50% of visuals and images were recalled. (4)

visual image for retension

Visual communication involves passing information to people through images, animation, objects, models, graphs, maps, tables, photographs, videos, drawing, diagrams signs and posters. However, to achieve the desired results, a visual communication strategy should be designed keeping the organizational objective, communication goal and audience demographics in mind.

Types of Visual Communication

Characters and Symbols

Who doesn’t know Ronald McDonald – a mindboggling 96% of the U.S. school children recognize the mascot! One of the most popular characters ever created also drives a tremendous recall value for the fast food business McDonald’s. Ray Croc, the founder of McDonald’s once mentioned that those “Golden Arches” of McDonald’s were so important that he had to buy the brand for $2.7 million.

That’s the value of visuals; introducing characters, and memorable symbols take learning to a whole new level. Headfirst series books, which uses metacognition to make learning effective, uses rich visualization and often funny characters to persist information longer for readers. For example, readers often find chapters with intelligent debate between two armchairs to drive home an important chapter learning goal.


Why are some TV advertisements deeply embedded into the minds of the viewers? For instance, remember the Nescafe Gold Blend ad where there is a couple with a dog? You can still hum the tune, isn’t it?

Videos are a powerful medium of communication. Past researches have shown that customers prefer seeing a video than reading text and 86% of them buy if there is a video on the landing page of a website. 80% of internet traffic will be driven by videos[2].

Add life to your training sessions and present your course engagingly, using real-life stories and scenarios through videos. These may be a part of the eLearning courses – such as an instructional video, interactive video (you can embed questions in a video for the users to choose the right answer from) and other pertinent videos to the course being taught.

Apps like Draw and Tell, Animoto, iMovie are some apps that you and your learners can use to make amazing videos.

Animated GIF’s

Animated GIFs are now becoming a popular means to communicate messages. They can be included in eLearning courses as funny icebreakers to build a connection with the audience, to grab their attention, to explain short processes and to elicit emotions. They also allow us to add an element of fun while learning. Popular GIF creation site Giphy recently announced[3] delivering 1 billion GIFs a day, and that this number is growing.


If you read a lot online, the chances are that you have seen many infographics which present data or information in an image. These images are a snapshot of the article most of the time and are easy to remember.

Infographics work best to communicate business information about various scenarios, from explaining complex analytical reports to sophisticated statistics, from listing business processes to telling a compelling story.


Memes are known as images that are accompanied by humorous captions is a great way to evoke positive emotions and set your content apart. Design memes keeping your audience in mind and whether or not they will gain actual engagement with your audience.

Tumblr is a social media platform which even has a feature for generating Memes. Teachers can utilize this and others (do review before downloading) to make memorable memes.

Mind Maps

This is a graphics technique that allows you to translate what’s in your mind to a visual picture. It will enable faster and better organization of information thus leading to enhanced clarity, productivity, and creativity. It is highly effective in generating unique ideas. The mind maps are color coded which help in organizing our thoughts.

visual communication mind map

Info doodles

Info Doodling presents the information gathered in a group setting in a large scale visual language format. Info doodling is the creative sister of infographics. Studies have found that doodling boosts short- and long-term memory, improves content retention and increases the attention span. Students can be encouraged to make info doodles on subjects and concepts that seem difficult to them to ensure that they understand the concepts.


Approximately 84 percent of communications will be visual in nature. So our reliance on visual to deliver a powerful and impactful message is set to increase manifolds. It is but natural that visuals will be the essential ingredient of any successful and impactful online course[4]. The combination of visual and verbal communication has been found to be six times more effective than the use of only text-based communication. Appropriate visuals can help make abstract and difficult concepts more tangible and can decrease learning time, improve comprehension, enhance retrieval, and increase retention

Engage with professionals, and learn tricks or use different apps to make courses and content better. Soapbox, Stencil, Canva, Giphy, Bitmoji, Venngage, and Infogram, are some great apps which can help you create visual delights for your courses.



Ila Mishra

Content Specialist at WizIQ. 'Live to write and write to live' is her motto. Passionate about life and living it up!

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