Show, Don’t Tell – The Power of Visuals in Educational Media
Have you ever noticed how drug commercials follow a similar pattern? They highlight a medical disorder, for example, depression, diabetes, overactive bladder, etc. They then introduce their solution — a pill, a shot, a patch. Finally, they list a litany of “side effects” as mandated by federal law.
These narrated effects range from slight nausea, to death — all while B-roll plays of grandpa frolicking with the grand kids in a pool, mom, on a candlelit dinner date with her dashing new boyfriend or Suzie, closing the deal in a 50th floor boardroom. Those viewers who sufferer from that particular affliction often remember the name of the product, but never retain the potential side effects. This is the goal of the advertiser, they want customers to recall the product title, to be able to discuss it with their doctors, but they don’t want them to associate the deleterious effects with the product. This is the power of well designed visuals to influence and guide watchers to a desired conclusion.
So, what does this mean to instructional designers. Increasingly visuals, in all their forms, are becoming a powerful primary channel of information flow. Not just a secondary, complimentary channel as they were in the days of PowerPoint training. (Don’t get me wrong, Stick People were cool, just a little simplistic.)
When you consider adding visuals to your training today you need to consider active video, 2D/3D simulation, competent narration, or a hybrid of all three. You need to seemlessly weave those elements throughout your training, in a way that compliments your primary lesson objective, but doesn’t distract your learner.
Fortunately, its never been easier to do this, also unfortunately, its never been easier to do this.
Like the early days of PowerPoint, there is a lot of shaky iPhone video, rambling narrated software simulations and cheesy 2D animations in many training courses. In order to benefit from the power of multimedia, you need to understand it, but more importantly, you need to adequately plan for, and resource it. That doesn’t mean you have to spend a lot of money on equipment or hire professional actors. It does, however mean that you need to think and plan carefully when creating the media and understand what constitutes strong educational multimedia, not what is just distracting noise.
In this blog series, we will cover educational multimedia creation from nuts-to-bolts: planning, design, writing, equipment, execution, tools, tips and more. To hopefully shed some light on the subject, and help create a community of best practices for educational multimedia.