Understanding the role of visual learning in the modern-day classroom
Over the past few years, multiple studies and research has proven the effectiveness of visual learning in not only helping students in responding faster to visual information as compared to text but also in retaining the information and improving the learning experience for students. This is why educational institutes across the world are looking for ways to incorporate visual learning into their classrooms.
In fact, visual learning is one of the first forms of learning that babies and young kids master. For instance, most toddlers, learn social skills by watching the people around them, children read pictures before they master verbal skills.
Thus, making visual learning one of the most natural forms of learning for students and for adults alike.
What is visual learning?
It is often said that a picture is worth a thousand words and visual learning is the practical implementation of that philosophy.
Visual learning can be described as a way of teaching that uses images and video to convey information to the students. In this method, the educator engages the students by adding visual supplements to the classroom experience. These can range from movies, videos, charts, diagrams, graphs, flash presentations, PowerPoints and any other visual medium to present the information to the students.
But what makes visual learning so effective?
Words are abstract and often difficult for the brain to retain. However, visuals, on the other hand, are more concrete, making it simpler for the brain to grasp and remember. According to a research conducted by the Social Science Research Network, 65% of people are visual learners and therefore visual learning becomes one of the best ways to drive a message home.
Additionally, the new age generation Z of students is the most visually stimulated generation that schools ever had to deal with. These students are constantly surrounded by screens – televisions, phones, smart devices that entertain and educate them. Hence it can be safely concluded that the new age student is a visual learner who lives in an increasingly visually oriented world and the best way to teach him is through visual learning tools and strategies.
Research has also proven that one minute of visual stimulation through watching video is equal to approximately 1.8 million written words. Since 90 percent of information transmitted to the brain is visual, and visuals are processed 60,000 times faster in the brain than text, visuals are a great way to help students learn and increase their learning retention.
What are the other benefits of visual learning?
- Clarity of learning
Visual learning enables students to view the information in a clear manner with graphs, diagrams, videos and other visual aids that help students understand how ideas are connected and interwoven. Using various visual aids in the classroom the teacher can break down the most multifaceted pieces of information into simple – easily digestible facts. It helps students understand information and promotes clarity of learning.
- Speeds up the learning process
It has been proven that the brain processes visual aids a lot faster than text. Instead of reading reams of text, learners can gather data from a visual graph a lot faster, thus speeding up the learning process. This is especially important when students are presented with new and complex information.
- Prevents students getting overwhelmed
Very often students get overwhelmed when they see a vast syllabus with lots of data. It can even lead to a cognitive overload where there is an added pressure on the brains. However, using a visual medium of teaching is far more effective for the students and reduces the burden of the student’s mind. The visual aids help create mental pathways a lot stronger and thus helps students achieve the desired results.
- Help faster retention of data
Research had made known that students better remember information and retain the learned data when it is represented and learned both visually and verbally. The visual stimulus helps to create cues in the brain that are be easily recalled.
- Develops critical thinking
Visual learning techniques also help in improving critical student thinking and learning skills, as they learn to communicate and organise ideas visually as well as being able to see patterns and relationships in visually presented data.
How can visual learning strategies be introduced in the classroom?
The visual learning style is a way of learning information by associating it with images and graphics. In this learning style, it is essential for learners to first see an image of the content, understand it and then connect it with the text that is being taught.
When teachers are creating a visual classroom, they need to focus on creating a learning space where students can freely communicate with one another, view presentations, watch videos and then discuss these videos with their peers. A visual classroom is characterised by high levels of classroom interaction and resource engagement.
Instead of relying on rote learning and memorizations, it is important for teachers in a visual classroom to use visual aids and they allow students ample of reflection time to visualize what they have just learnt
Today, with the increasing use of technology, it is becoming easier to incorporate visual learning elements in a classroom. The use of learning management systems makes it easy to incorporate web 2.0 tools in the classroom to create visual learning tools. From introducing YouTube videos to virtual reality trips, watching documentaries and creating animated videos, today teachers have a host of new age tools to convert their classroom into a visual learning space.