BlogLearning & Development

Visual Learning: A Definitive Guide to the V in VARK

Jamie Olson
VP of People & Culture
Learning & Development
October 25, 2023

Dive into visual learning, a powerful educational approach that leverages visuals to enhance comprehension, retention, and application.

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About the author: Jamie Olson, with her extensive experience in HR and talent development, has a deep understanding of different learning styles and how they can be harnessed to enhance training outcomes. As the VP of People & Culture at Continu, she helps organizations create effective learning experiences that cater to diverse learning styles.

In the multiple variants of learning styles, visual learning stands out for its effectiveness and ubiquity. This guide will delve into the world of visual learning, shedding light on its importance and how to harness its power in education and training.

Let's get started.

What is Visual Learning?

Visual learning is a learning style where learners absorb and recall information best when it is presented visually. This could be through diagrams, infographics, videos, or even color-coded notes. In the context of education and training, understanding visual learning is crucial as it can significantly enhance knowledge retention and understanding.

Visual Learning and the VARK Model

The VARK model identifies four primary types of learners: Visual, Auditory, Reading/Writing, and Kinesthetic. Visual learners, as the name suggests, learn best when information is presented visually. They prefer diagrams, charts, and other visual aids over text or spoken instructions.

Understanding this can help educators and trainers tailor their methods to suit different learning styles.

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Characteristics of Visual Learners

Visual learners, as the term suggests, are individuals who learn best when information is presented in a visual manner. They thrive when they can see concepts mapped out, watch a demonstration, or visualize a process. This learning style is one of the most common, and understanding its characteristics can help educators and trainers tailor their methods to meet the needs of visual learners.

These are some of the key traits that define visual learners:

1. Thinking in Pictures

Visual learners tend to think in pictures. They often visualize concepts and ideas, making it easier for them to understand and remember information. This ability to create mental images can aid in problem-solving and creative thinking.

2. Keen Spatial Awareness

Visual learners usually have a strong sense of spatial awareness. They can easily remember locations and directions, and often excel in tasks that require spatial reasoning. This can be particularly beneficial in fields such as architecture, design, and engineering.

3. Preference for Visual Instructions

Visual learners prefer to see information presented visually, such as in charts or diagrams. They may struggle with verbal instructions and often benefit from visual aids. This preference can guide educators and trainers in developing effective instructional materials.

Benefits of Visual Learning

Visual learning isn't just a preference for pretty pictures or colorful diagrams. It's a powerful learning style that can significantly enhance memory retention, improve comprehension, and increase learner engagement. By presenting information visually, we can tap into the brain's powerful image-processing abilities and make learning a more effective and enjoyable experience.

Here are some benefits of visual learning:

1. Enhanced Memory Retention

Visual learning can significantly enhance memory retention. Visual aids can help learners remember and recall information more effectively. This can lead to improved performance in assessments and real-world tasks.

2. Improved Comprehension

Visual learning can improve comprehension, especially for complex concepts or processes. Diagrams, infographics, and videos can make information more accessible and easier to understand. This can enhance learners' understanding and application of knowledge.

3. Increased Engagement

Visual learning can make learning more engaging and enjoyable. Interactive visual elements can capture learners' attention and stimulate their interest. This can lead to increased motivation and active participation in learning activities.

Real-world examples of visual learning success stories abound, from classrooms that use interactive whiteboards to companies that use eLearning platforms like Continu for employee training.

Strategies for Visual Learning in Training

Knowing that visual learning is effective is one thing, but how do we put it into practice? What strategies can we use to make the most of this powerful learning style? Whether you're an educator designing a curriculum, a trainer developing a workshop, or a learner trying to study more effectively, these strategies can help you harness the power of visual learning.

Here are some strategies trainers can use to help visual learners:

1. Using Diagrams

Diagrams can effectively represent complex processes or relationships. They can make abstract concepts more concrete and easier to understand. This can enhance learners' comprehension and retention of complex information.

2. Creating Mind Maps

Mind maps can show relationships between concepts in a visual format. They can help learners organize information and see the "big picture." This can aid in understanding complex topics and fostering creative thinking.

3. Leveraging Technology

Technology can significantly enhance visual learning. eLearning platforms like Continu allow educators to incorporate multimedia elements into learning content, making it more engaging and effective. This can support diverse learning needs and promote personalized learning experiences.

Help visual learners by uploading slides, presentations, and videos to training content.
Easily upload slides, presentations, and videos to your training programs.

Implementing Visual Learning in Corporate Training

Implementing visual learning in corporate training involves a thoughtful approach that considers how visual elements can enhance understanding and retention.

These are the proven steps to implement visual learning in corporate training programs:

1. Understand Your Learners

Before implementing visual learning, it's crucial to understand your learners. Are they predominantly visual learners? What kind of visual aids do they respond to best? Use surveys or assessments to gather this information.

2. Incorporate Visual Elements

Start incorporating visual elements into your training materials. This could be diagrams, infographics, videos, or even color-coded notes. Remember, the goal is to enhance understanding and retention, so choose visuals that help clarify complex information.

3. Use Modern Learning Technology

Leverage technology to enhance visual learning. eLearning platforms like Continu allow you to incorporate multimedia elements into your training content. You can also track learners' progress and use analytics to see how learners interact with visual elements.

Continu reading: 10 Best Online Training Software 2023 (Ranked)

4. Gather Feedback

After implementing visual learning, gather feedback from your learners. Are they finding the visual elements helpful? Is there anything they're struggling with? Use this feedback to refine your approach.

5. Continually Improve

Visual learning isn't a one-and-done deal. It's important to continually improve your approach based on feedback and new developments in visual learning research. Keep exploring new ways to make your training more visually engaging and effective.

Implementing visual learning in training and education involves more than just adding pictures to a presentation. It requires a thoughtful approach that considers how visual elements can enhance understanding and retention.

For instance, using Continu's platform, trainers can create visually rich learning content, track learners' progress, and even use analytics to see how learners interact with visual elements.

Continu Makes Visual Learning Easy!

Visual learning is a powerful tool in education and training. By understanding its benefits and implementing effective strategies, educators and trainers can enhance learning outcomes and engage learners more effectively.

Ready to harness the power of visual learning?

Continu offers several features and solutions that can support visual learning:

  1. Personalized Learning: With Smart Segmentation™, you can tailor learning experiences by geography, department, or custom variables. This can include creating visual learning content specifically tailored to visual learners.
  2. Workflows: Automate your new hire training, ongoing development, or compliance training with Workflow™ features. This can include setting up workflows that incorporate visual learning materials.
  3. Assignments: Create due dates, escalation pathways, and custom notifications to ensure learners never miss important training. Visual cues can be used to highlight due dates and important tasks.
  4. Search & Discover: Find and discover content quickly and simply with sophisticated search tools and personalized recommendations. This feature can help visual learners easily locate and engage with visual learning content.
  5. Collaborate with Others: Build connections by liking, sharing, discussing, searching, and interacting via our native Slackbot. This feature can facilitate visual learning by enabling learners to share and discuss visual learning materials.
  6. Journeys: Interact, share, and learn with others with a visual learning plan. This feature can provide a visual roadmap of a learner's journey, which can be particularly beneficial for visual learners.

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About the Author
Jamie Olson, VP of People & Culture at Continu
Jamie Olson
VP of People & Culture

Jamie Olson is the VP of People and Culture at Continu, a leading Learning Management System (LMS) company. With almost 20 years of experience in Human Resources, Jamie brings a wealth of knowledge in areas such as Learning and Development, Employee Training, Talent Management, and Performance Management. She's passionate about creating environments that foster learning and growth, and she's an expert in leveraging technology to enhance HR processes. Jamie's insights are grounded in her extensive experience and her commitment to helping organizations cultivate a culture of continuous improvement.

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