How to Unlock the Power of Visual Learning

Beslan Bakriev
July 17, 2023
6 min read

In today's era of immediate information, short attention spans, and constant visual stimulation, it has become increasingly challenging to watch a complete video without skipping, acquire a new skill without resorting to online searches for "how-to" instructions, or read an entire article, such as this one, without skimming. 

When it comes to workplace learning, we have an expectation that employees endure frustrating, text-heavy manuals. Learning new procedures and skills in this traditional format is undoubtedly difficult. When we are confronted with large amounts of information to process rapidly, our brains tend to wander, learning becomes passive, and we often lose motivation before even embarking on the learning journey. 

So, how can we capture and sustain an employee's attention while ensuring they efficiently and effectively absorb crucial information?

Enter visual learning.

What is Visual Learning? 

As inherently visual creatures, humans have been communicating through visual means for over 150,000 years, far surpassing the relatively brief history of written language, which has been used for approximately 4,000 - 5,000 years. Consequently, our visual sense has become our dominant mode of perception, making visual learning one of the most effective learning styles. 

Visual Learning is one of the four distinct learning styles popularized by Neil D. Fleming in his VARK learning styles. This learning style caters to individuals who prefer to comprehend information by visually perceiving it. We assimilate knowledge more effectively when ideas, concepts, and text are supplemented with images, diagrams, or videos.

Visual Learning can reduce learning time, improve comprehension, enhance retrieval and increase retention. It’s no wonder more than half the population are visual learners. So it’s hard to believe that our status quo for workplace training is the text-heavy handbook. Our education style needs to move away from this old school method, start serving the majority, and capitalize on the benefits of Visual Learning.

The Benefits of Visual Learning for your Workplace Training

They say a picture is worth a thousand words. What does this mean for the effectiveness of Visual Learning in the workplace?

1. Learn faster

The human brain primarily functions as an image processor, with a significant portion of our sensory cortex dedicated to vision, rather than being solely focused on processing words. As a result, it takes approximately 2 minutes to read a single page consisting of around 500 words, whereas the brain can process and assign meaning to a symbol or an image in just ¼ of a second. This rapid processing of visual stimuli allows us to establish connections between concepts more efficiently, thereby accelerating the learning process.

2. Learn more

Cognitive load theory suggests that working memory has a maximum capacity of information it can process. When we exceed that load, we stop learning. Visual Learning, if used appropriately, can help reduce the cognitive load and enable more working memory to be devoted to learning new material.

3. Store information longer and improve retrieval

Visual Learning is more effective in storing information in our long-term memory. A lot of the information we encounter is abstract. According to education consultant, Dr. Lynell Burmark, “unless our words, concepts, ideas are hooked onto an image, they will go in one ear, sail through the brain, and go out the other ear. Words are processed by our short-term memory where we can only retain about seven bits of information (plus or minus 2)”. However, if abstract information is associated with meaningful images, the brain can process and store such information in our long-term memory and thus improve retrieval for later. 

4. Improve comprehension

According to Robert E. Horn from Stanford University, visual learning possesses the potential to enhance human "bandwidth" by enabling us to absorb, understand, and synthesize large quantities of new information more efficiently. This implies that visual cues serve as useful shortcuts to visualize intricate functions or mechanisms and simplify challenging concepts.

5. Capability for real-world scenarios

The objective of employee training is to enhance knowledge, enabling individuals to perform tasks with greater effectiveness. By employing Visual Learning to depict real-world scenarios, employees can assess their knowledge and comprehension within a secure and controlled environment. This allows them to apply their learning and test their understanding in practical situations.

So what do these benefits mean for workplace training? If a picture is worth a thousand words, imagine how easily it could be worth an hour of training in the workplace - if not more. If your current training process resembles a 100-page manual or a dull powerpoint, then you need to reimagine how you present your training content.

How to Apply Visual Learning in Your Workplace

Bid farewell to those text-heavy documents as they aren't benefiting your business. If the ability of employees to absorb and remember what they learn is crucial for successful training, then workplace learning tools should facilitate improved and quicker information retention rather than impeding the process. 

Instead, envision a situation where Visual Learning takes center stage. Here, text is accompanied by images, diagrams, and videos, enabling employees to visualize intricate procedures and thereby process, store, and retain information at a faster pace. 

Now, go beyond the confines of mere images, diagrams, or videos. Envision a scenario where your employees can actively engage, make mistakes, and learn through immersive real-world simulations within a controlled and secure environment. 

Sounds impressive, doesn't it? Well, make sure not to skim-read this last part.

How Panomio can help you reimagine your training content                 

Panomio revolutionizes training by providing an immersive and visually-driven learning experience that transcends the constraints of traditional manuals, harnessing the power of visual learning. 

With Panomio, users have the opportunity to engage in interactive training within a virtual environment that closely mirrors the actual tasks they will perform. Prominent organizations in industries such as aviation, transport, and healthcare are leveraging Panomio to elevate their training programs, enhancing information retention while simultaneously reducing training costs. 

If you wish to unlock the advantages of Visual Learning for your organization, take advantage of our free version or contact us for further information.

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Beslan Bakriev
July 14, 2023
6 min read

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