Monday, June 22, 2015

Visual Explanations: The Future is in Visual Communication (Malamed)

Professional Explainer

When you can sum yourself up in two words, I think you've concentrated your very essence...and Connie kicked off with just that.  "Really, we get so concerned as to whether the content meets technical (etc.) requirements, that we ignore the cognitive requirements".  Truer words, and words that hurt...we're so worried so often with if the content "works" for the task that we forget to consider if it "works" for the learner. 

What do we know about our cognitive architecture?

1.) Selective attention filters out what is unimportant
2.) Process 3-4 bits of info at once
3.) Limited duration of working memory (we can feel better about ourselves now)...but
4.) Infinite long term one has ever discovered the end of memory.  If you can't recall something, it's due to an ineffective cue...not your memory itself.

From Words to Images

Pictures increase recall.  We process them in parallel with others (as opposed to text (paragraph 1, paragraph 2, etc.). When you think of the popularity of Pinterest, Instagram, realize how directly pictures speak to your emotions.  One of the best ways to see the gradual change to pictures is the US Department of Agriculture.  Early on, there was a rough attempt at using black and white pics....then in 1946, they used a infographic illustrating 7 food groups.  It changed to 4, and the infographs continued to evolve...visual info, visual format. 

Fast forward to today, we have the food pyramid: The original version showed donuts, candy, and cake AT THE TOP.  They WANTED it to mean that was the least amount consumed, but WE look at it and assume that "What's at the top is the best".  And, so, it was redesigned with little dollops of fat at the top (although, Steve Howard just found the original image with the donuts.  Now I'm hungry.  Thanks, Steve.).  Long story short, infographs are evolving day to day, and are constant works in progress, and food education is a perfect example of this.

Explaining With Stories

Using words in conjunction with pictures is key.  There are benefits to stories: They arouse and satisfy curiosity, provide a common understanding, and enhance your message overall.  This concept lends itself to the need to combine audio, visual, and bk in learning.  You can use a comic book format, but it's got to be story-ish.  Three steps to do so:

1.) Set up a problem
2.) Elaborate on the problem
3.) Resolve the problem

"What happens in the story is the Plot.  The main person is the Protagonist.  The story's question is the Goal.  How the person changes is the Story."  You'll become involved in a tale, story, or movie, if there's change in a person.  Even if it's a terrible movie, you'll keep watching to "see what happens to X".  Let learners become invested in a story, in an evolution, in a change, and interest will follow.

Visual Language of Comics

The visual language of comics is already set up in chunks, which is good news for those of us who love comics and do training.  Think about it:  The blocks, the narration "header" (typically in yellow), the gutter (space between blocks used for transitions, and when sizes are offset it leads readers to go left to right versus up to down), the balloons (which allow you to convey subtleties that text alone can't), the motion lines (context is key here...if the background is cold, you know they're shivering, but if it's a truck, you know they're on a bumpy road).  So much good stuff to work with here...HUGE possibilities with a variety of information.

Explaining with Graphs/Conclusion

Graphs allow you to show the "shape" of data, they make the abstract concrete, they serve as a cognitive aid, and they help you to structure information. 

I completely got sucked into the section on graphs (what to use, what not to, how to use them, etc.), so the last but of her presentation is in my mind...where it should be, I suppose.  Great presentation with incredibly useful content...will definitely be looking to implement a more visual, story-based  approach to our content.

No comments:

Post a Comment