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It’s All About Relationships

Good visuals for learning must support an awareness of the relationship between your use of the visuals and the content. You need to be concerned with how things look (form) as well as with content (subject matter). Content is the key to getting the information out; it is the message. Form, on the other hand, is what attracts the learners’ attention and holds it. It is what has the greatest impact on your learner and their learning. Form is what first relates to the affective domain or your emotions. A great example of this is abstract art that can have an emotional impact without a particular overt message. It is, however, the working relationship between form and content that makes the difference. By using the right combinations you can not only inform but also make an impression upon the learner’s mind.

When creating visuals for learning we are working in two dimensions with three very important tenets: visual components, relationships, and imagination.

Visual components are all the things that make up the image. As stated earlier, the learner takes the screen into his or her mind as an entire image, not as individual components— at least initially. It is the combination of the smaller components like line, shape and color that creates the larger image for the learner.
Different colors, shapes and textures have different effects on the learner. The first area affected is the affective domain or what the learner feels about what he or she sees. The next is the cognitive domain. What are they giving their attention to? Is there too much to absorb? The combination of the impact on the affective domain and the cognitive domain affects the learning. It may not be apparent right away what that effect is, but there is always an effect.