Why You Should Adopt a Visual Learning Strategy in Your Classroom

The human brain is a miraculous organ, capable of processing huge amounts of information in just seconds. But it is better at absorbing some kinds of information than it is others.

Consider, for example, the following: when you read a passage of text, your brain scans the text for meaning, decoding a sea of syntax, syllables, phonemes, syllogisms, euphemisms, metaphors and all manner of rules and techniques to uncover the units of information that are most important.

Whether you’re reading a glossy magazine, the business section of a newspaper, or late Romantic poetry – the brain can, depending on its level of training, sift its way through a staggering amount of material in an impressively short amount of time.

It is incredible, no doubt, but not nearly as incredible as it gets.

Visual Learning Engages Learners

Students now have more ways of accessing and consuming visual information than ever before. Videos and images are more effective at winning their attention and keeping them engaged than solely text-based content.

But visual communication isn’t exclusive to those media; it can extends to visual elements such as icons, colours, and even different font types and sizes – all of which can be extremely effective at simplifying difficult concepts to decrease learning time, improve comprehension, enhance retrieval, and increase retention.

Indeed, far from signalling a death knell for text, visual content actually works best when used with written material. This is something that was pointed out in “Visual language and Converging Technologies in the Next 10-15 Years (and Beyond),” a paper presented at Stanford University by academic Robert E. Horn in 2001.

Brains are Image Processors

While the brain’s capacity to decode written information is remarkable, its capacity for processing visual information is nothing short of phenomenal. Just consider this fact: the human brain can process visual information as much as 60,000 times faster than it can text.

This preference for visual information can be traced back to a time before language, when humans apprehended the world around them directly through sight and sound.

Indeed, your sensory cortex has evolved over countless millennia to quickly process and memorise visual information. This evolution gave our ancient ancestors a greater chance of survival as it allowed them to quickly spot prey and recognise predators before it was too late.

Of course the fact that the brain is an image processor first and foremost shouldn’t be too surprising. In fact it’s been recognised for many years by teachers, managers and advertisers using chalkboards, charts and posters to communicate their messages. However, the difference between ten or twenty years ago and today is that we now consume more visual information than ever before, as you can see from the following inforgraphic from GoConqr

Micheal Heffernan is a content writer at GoConqr, a social learning platform used by more than 2.5 million learners and educators worldwide.