Educational media and technology can be used to enhance learning in almost any discipline, in classroom learning as well as out-of-class learning. However, it is in the latter case that use of advanced educational media and technology can be truly productive as a mode of learning. Data from research suggests that students learn better when visuals are a part of the written text or verbal content. Visuals like illustrations, animations, and videos not only help students to understand concepts; they also play a crucial role in reinforcement and recall of the studied matter.
The first step to learning is gaining the attention and interest of the students; a task which is becoming increasingly difficult in a world where the learners are inundated with stimuli of every kind. This challenge can be countered by the use of illustrations and other visual media which can keep the learner focused on the topic at hand. Illustrations also help in increasing the complexity of the content; this can draw in the learners and hold their interest. However, the complexity of the illustrations and learning material must match the learning level of the students for optimum results and it is at this point that the role of the illustrators becomes critical. An experienced illustrator will be able to match the visuals to the written content such that the learner obtains maximum educational benefit from the eye-catching visuals.
When illustrations and animations are included in educational media, it makes the abstract more concrete. For example, the use of visuals to explain the working of the human brain helps the learners to grasp the concept better. The illustrations help to illuminate the verbal and written content pertaining to the brain function. Another area where illustrations play an important role is in making the invisible into visible for the learner. Cloud formation, wind patterns, weather conditions – these are all things that are usually invisible to the human eye but recreating them using illustrations is important for explaining the concept. Without illustrations, it would be almost impossible to make the students understand these concepts.
And finally, when it comes to numeric data, it is the illustration of these numbers in the form of graphic data that allows for easy analysis and interpretation. Pie charts and bar graphs are an absolute must for students to make sense of all the numbers before them.
It is common knowledge that students recall all that they watch on the television but fail to retain even a fraction of what they learn in the classroom. This is because visual learning is often easier for students and therefore the use of illustrations in educational media can aid retention. An illustration which uses graphics like lines, space, colors effectively can help the learner to recall the graphical presentation with minimum effort, therefore maximizing both learning and retention.
Illustrations play a critical role in advanced educational media and technology and the role of experienced illustrators is indispensable to developing effective educational media.