Way back in 1995, the world discovered that the Golden Arches – or the McDonald’s logo – were more well-recognized as compared to the cross that is symbolic of Christianity.
Over time, McDonald’s – which is said to feed about 1% of the world’s population daily – has, somehow, retained its track record as the most recognizable symbol in the world.
According to inc.com, about 65% of the global population comprises visual learners. That means about two-thirds of the population finds it easier to remember things like logos, charts, graphs, symbols, equations, charts, mind-maps, flow charts, diagrams and caricatures.
As a result, if you’re looking to help someone learn something, visuals are going to be your new bae. Just look at schools: instead of having students note down pages and pages of text, teachers periodically use mind maps to introduce concepts.
One of the daily challenges faced by educators is helping less agile learners understand new concepts. They also struggle with encouraging retention and memory of subject matter so that students can access it during testing and evaluation.
If you’re wondering how to make your content easier to digest and more memorable, be sure to include a few of the elements below in your online course:
A photo of amoeba under a microscope is likely to remain in the mind of the students. But understanding might be harder to achieve if you try to describe the organism in words. As they say – a photo speaks a thousand words.
Use Google photos more often. You don’t need the pictures to be high res if you are not printing them and you can afford to ignore the watermark on a picture of a Meerkat if you’re just using it for illustration purposes.
You can even get printable high res pictures by fiddling about with the filters.
Wikimedia Commons lets you use images even if you are publishing a matter, provided you give due credit.
Government websites will often offer images for free. Need a picture of a penguin? The tourism websites of South Africa and Australia will let you download a ton of such pictures, shot by a world-class photographer in high definition. Think out of the box!
2. Icons, vectors, caricatures, and stick figures
Again, icons and vectors are available as easily as pictures of the Kardashians and Jenners of the world. You simply need to add the word icon or vector after the word you have in mind.
The best part is that you don’t need to be very creative. For example, if you type in “broke icon” you will most likely find an icon depicting a pan with his pockets out, with a downward drooping mouth and an exclamation over his head. Of course, you might also find icons of a broken bottle and broken plates – be prepared to play around a bit.
If your team includes art teachers who are tasked with jazzing up lecture resources and study material, rope them in for illustrations and caricatures.
You could always also call in “project work” from the students themselves. Divide the students into groups and assign each group the task for illustrating a certain topic. Evaluate or award them on the project to ensure that they dish out all their creative juice.
If you have none of these luxuries, stick figures to rescue!
There are videos simplifying everything from the different types of verbs to chemistry lab experiments, chess strategy, Capoeira formations and a literary analysis of Pride and Prejudice.
You can always begin or conclude a few classes with a video. Be sure to check the video before you play it for grammatical and pronunciation errors and age appropriateness.
Have a healthy discussion after the video to evaluate comprehension levels and to give students the chance to be sure that they understood correctly.
An infographic is a diagram or a flow chart for a certain context. One might be able to show the progression of a story plot through an infographic. The Water Cycle or the Food Chain might also be depicted very effectively and memorably through the use of an infographic.
After all, infographics are persuasive and eye-catching. They’re easily read and remembered, which automatically means that you stand a chance to position yourself as an expert in front of your students.
Moreover, they’re great for SEO purposes, so be sure to incorporate infographics wherever you can – especially if you’re depicting statistics, numbers, and figures, all of which tell some kind of a story.
5. Call outs, text bubbles, and text boxes
If your online coaching program requires you to share study material handouts, or if the material is just walls and walls of text, make the nuggets of info more “accessible” with the help of call outs, text bubbles, and boxes wherever possible.
- Have boxes within each section summarizing the points in that section.
- Highlight some sections but don’t use only one color throughout. You don’t want to end up being distracting.
- Call out important quotes, dates and any other significant points in a different and more noticeable font – away from the curtains of text.
This approach to study material also gives those night-before-the-test crammers something useful to cram. Not to mention that bullet lists are easy to call to mind when your students are stressed amidst exam fever. Such elements also make last-minute revision easier.
6. Listicles and ad-men style storyboards
It might be easier for your students to remember the workings of the digestive system if you write the whole digestive process as a list of steps.
Similarly, you can summarize an entire Shakespeare play on a storyboard using the symbols, icons, and caricatures talked about earlier. Storyboards have the comic-strip slash graphic novel type appearance that will also instantly classify you as a fun and cool (also read: likeable) teacher.
Serious topics need not be fun-starved either. Who says you cannot use a storyboard to educate people on how they can retire rich due to the power of compounding?
7. Mind maps
Mind maps are what you might call mindful doodling. Teachers are learners who use scribbles and rough geometric shapes and arrows to explain, understand, and memorize a concept. Prepare your own and encourage your learners to create similar mind maps that work for them.
Mind maps work best when they are self-made. Avoid offering a mind map as a handout. At best – if, perhaps, your students are very young – you can hand out the basic structure but let your students populate the blank mind map.
You see, visual cues are stronger than you think. Try to reach very far back into your memory. Do you remember any of your primary school teachers?
I remember one, and I have a distinct memory of her shoes always matching her skirt. I don’t remember anything she taught me. I have an equally clear memory of a pencilled drawing of amoeba from high school, nucleus and all. I cannot remember the teacher who taught me this or what she said (or what I ate for lunch today), but I recall the amoeba diagram in HD!
Make use of one (avoid overkill) visual cue every class or every other lecture, or at least, once while introducing or wrapping up a new concept and see how it not only helps you be perceived as an expert tutor, but also boosts the value of your overall coaching program.