How to Communicate to the Visual Cortex—What Learners Don’t See

Conference Archive

mLearnCon 2013 - June 18, 2013

Kevin Thorn

Chief NuggetHead and Owner
NuggetHead Studioz

The visual cortex is the area of the brain we use to process visual information. We can communicate an action or perceived affordance on a computer screen by applying simple visual techniques. The term “less is more” is the key in allowing learners to use their imagination and experiences to complete the image or graphic, and that in turn results in higher retention. As eLearning designers, we also design the instruction to be visually appealing and relevant. We spend many hours of time unnecessarily hunting for images and photos to convey the context of the material. What if we could convey the same message more effectively with a few strokes of a pen or by arranging a few simple shapes? When you understand the basic principles of visual communication, you’ll be able to replace words with pictures.

Participants in this session will learn about the visual cortex and how we use it every day to communicate. You’ll see examples of perceived affordances, and how making subtle changes to your eLearning graphics can be a powerful companion to the instruction. You’ll also learn techniques for creating on-demand graphics following basic visual-communication principles.

In this session, you will learn:

  • What the visual cortex is and why it’s important in eLearning design
  • More about perceived affordances
  • How to allow learners to use their own experiences to complete a visual message
  • How to apply simple visual communication techniques following basic principles

Novice and intermediate professionals.

Technology discussed in this session:


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