I See What You're Saying: Applying Visual Communication Skills to Online Instruction

ID: 53032 Type: Workshop
  1. Diane Wilcox, James Madison University, United States
  2. Tom Wilcox, Wilcox Media, United States

Thursday, June 28 2:15 PM-5:15 PM

Using interactive facilitation techniques and free image editing software, this workshop will enable participants to develop basic visual communication skills and use these skills to create effective instructional images. We will introduce participants to several learning theories that explain visual learning and support the use of images in instruction. We will explain how four types of instructional images (representational, organizational, interpretative, and transformational) may be used to engage the learner, combat cognitive overload, and maximize learning, and show why the fifth kind of image (decorative) is a poor choice for instruction. We will introduce participants to basic design principles to help them master the use of contrast, repetition, alignment, proximity, layout, and color in their instructional materials. Finally, we will use a free image editing application (Autodesk Sketchbook) to: 1) demonstrate basic design principles, and 2) provide participants with structured activities that will enable them to develop visual literacy competencies.


Learning Objectives After this workshop, participants will be able to: 1. Explain why visual communication skills are critical to effective online instruction 2. Explain how learning theory informs the design of visuals for instruction 3. Describe how effective visuals effect learning 4. Name the 5 kinds of instructional images 5. Distinguish between the different kinds of instructional images 6. Apply visual design principles to image creation 7. Create an instructional image with a free image editing application Suggested tools: tablet or laptop with stylus (graphics tablet), Autodesk Sketchbook

Topical Outline

Part One: Justification of the need for visual communication skills for online instruction This part of the workshop will provide definitions of visual literacy and visual communication and will provide justification for the need for visual communication skills in online instruction. ? Definitions of visual literacy and visual communication, justification for the need for visual communication skills ? Examples of both well-designed and poorly-designed images. Participants will be asked to decide whether a particular image is well-designed or poorly-designed and will respond by using a polling app on their phones. ? Review of the most recent research on visual communication skills in online instruction. Part Two: Learning theories that explain the use of images in instruction ? Dual coding Theory (Pavio,1986) - shows how the use of images and words help improve comprehension and retention of information. ? Multimedia Theory (Mayer, 2009) - covers the redundancy principle, the contiguity principle, and modality principle and show how these principles are related to learning with images. ? Cognitive Load Theory (Sweller, 2005) - shows how the amount of cognitive load required in a learning environment can be manipulated through effective images. Part Three: Kinds of instructional images In this part of the workshop, the facilitators will provide examples of the different kinds of instructional images, will discuss their effect on learning, and will provide participants with the opportunity to classify different images according to instructional purpose (using polling software) ? Decorative Images ? Representative Images ? Organizational Images ? Interpretive Images ? Transformational Images Part Four: Design principles: Contrast, Repetition, Alignment, Proximity, Color, Type, Space This part of the workshop focuses on introducing participants to visual design principles and shows them how to use the principles to create an image for instructional purposes. It also provides the research justification for the use of these design principles and examples of materials that have employed the design principles. ? How to use contrast, repetition, alignment, proximity, color, type, white space, shape, and depth in instructional images Part Five: Creating instructional images with an image editor Participants will be afforded the opportunity to put theory into practice by using a free image editing application to create instructional images (using Pixlr). Participants will apply an understanding of theory and design principles to the creation of instructional images for instructional purposes. ? A general overview of the image editing application will be provided ? Hands on instruction for how to build an image ? How to use different tools in the Toolbar ? How to save images in different file formats ? How to import images into instructional materials


The workshop is ideal for participants with an interest in visual literacy and limited prior experience with an image editing application.

Experience Level



Dr. Diane Wilcox is a full Professor and Academic Unit Head of the Learning, Technology and Leadership Education Department in College of Education at James Madison University (JMU), where she teaches graduate courses in visual literacy, instructional design, and instructional technology. Most of the courses she teaches are skills-based, requiring students to apply theory to practice as they design and develop products for clients. Immediately prior to joining JMU in 2004, she worked at Autodesk, Inc. as an instructional design manager where she designed e-learning programs and global training programs for enterprise systems. Dr. Wilcox earned her M.A. and Ph.D. degrees in educational psychology at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. Her Master's and Doctoral research examined the effect of 3-dimensional animated graphics on children's learning of fraction concepts and rules. She earned her undergraduate degree in business administration and fine arts at the College of William and Mary, and later studied fine arts at Townson State University and Humboldt State University. Tom Wilcox is an experienced computer interface designer and programmer (more than 25 years) and is an expert user of a variety of image editing and 3-D design software applications. As an adjunct instructor at JMU (for 8 years), he taught Photography in Education, Production of Instructional Materials, and Web Design for Learning. More recently, he served as the Inventor in Residence for 4-VA at JMU and developed a virtual reality chemistry program for JMU's Chemistry department to help students visualize crystal lattices. Tom's formal education is in fine arts. (See wilcoxmedia.com for information on Tom's background.)


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