Teaching is largely a performative art, often with a visual component. A good teacher, armed with nothing more than a whiteboard and a marker, can bring concepts to life through narrative and hand-drawn illustrations. Many teachers have intuitive mastery of this whiteboarding skill, such that they don’t need to spend much time thinking about what to draw or write on the whiteboard. The lively spontaneity of explaining something on the whiteboard can be both highly creative and pedagogically effective.
So if great teachers are so good at whiteboarding and creating impromptu visual learning experiences for their students, why do authors and developers of online course materials struggle to include these infographic-like visuals in their online course materials? I believe the answer is that course writers must make a mindset shift, thinking less like an author and more like a designer. This mindset shift has several components:
I genuinely believe that the challenge in getting writers of online course materials to include more visuals has more to do with this mindset shift than with course writers not being visual thinkers. After all, many (if not most) course writers of online course materials are or have been teachers. And most teachers have at least some facility with using the whiteboard, chalkboard, or projector (whether digital or analog) to draw and write visual elements that help their students better understand the concepts in the classroom. Bringing these pedagogically effective visual elements into your work as an online course writer is often just a matter of reminding yourself what you already do as an instructor and finding the best way to recreate and include those visual elements in your online course materials.