Even the instructional designer can suffer from the disorder of the ‘white page’.
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How can I illustrate a particular content? Which kind of communication method should I use? If I use images, how can I choose them and where can I find effective images?
It is demonstrated that images can enhance learning:
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- It is easier to learn from a text combined with images, rather than from a text-only page;
- It is easier to learn from text and images presented together, rather than from text separated from images (both spatially and temporally).
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Given the importance of images, we have to choose them carefully and accurately.
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There are different kinds of images we can use, depending on the kind of content we have to explain and on the function of the images.
Images can be:
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- Decorative: Images with a weak connection with the content of the lesson, a mere adornment. This kind of images can be an obstacle to learning since they can distract from the object of the lesson;
- Representative: Images with a strong connection with the text, reflect and reinforce it, for example, a picture that shows the same scene described in a text;
- Organizational: Provide a structure for a text, for example, a conceptual map or a tree chart. These images can be very useful to the learner because they help to build mental models and to organize the knowledge in ‘scaffolds’;
- Interpretative: Clarify a text and give the learner a different perspective to interpret it, for example, a representation of an electrical circuit;
- Transformative: represent something that changes over time, for example, a timeline or a data map. These images can be very useful to memorize information.
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A project of great interest is The noun project, a website that collects icons and symbols to build a “global visual language that everyone can understand”.
There are hundreds of icons uploaded by different designers under a CC license:
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