Article Commentary – Graphics for Rapid eLearning (Lectora Blog)

I caught wind of an article about “Graphics for Rapid eLearning“, thanks to a link provided by Jennifer Brick. Given that this the visuals associated with learning are an interest of mine, reviewing the article was a no-brainer.

However, I saw a few things that didn’t quite sit right, so….

The context of the article is that of a Vendor blog (Lectora), and they specialize in the provision of applications that support the rapid development of online learning content.

One of the first things that stood out was the assertion of the purpose of images, saying,

we need to use different types of images and media to grab learner attention and keep them interested.

Well…there’s a greater purpose for media and images, namely, illustration of key concepts and direct relevance to the content/objectives of the learning. If those two purposes are ignored, then images and media run the risk of being strictly decorative and that approach adds nothing to the learning.

The technical considerations in the article are largely correct, although the focus remains on static images only, when there remains an earlier reference to “media”. Given the increasing use of animations, video, and audio, the relatively smaller sizes of individual graphic files, while still important, will be smaller targets for optimization than other types of media. However, the author’s point is well taken; in environments where bandwidth is a consideration, then due care needs to be taken with these kinds of assets so that loading and rendering issues don’t detract from the overall learning experience.

This is the part that stopped me short:

The bigger the file size of your images, the longer it takes for your course to load – and that’s not rapid e-Learning! (my emphasis)

Whoa… what?

In one respect, the author is correct. that issue has nothing to do with rapid e-Learning. However, that’s my area of concern; what’s the connection the author is trying to make? Rapid development and rapid design are focused on the time-saving activities and tools that get a working solution deployed more “rapidly” than could otherwise be achieved using traditional design methodologies or specialized design tools. But the “learning” is not something that can be accelerated by a tool alone or the selection of a particular graphic. The learning is achieved through presentation of content, a solid design, relevance to the learner, and opportunities for meaningful practice. After all, a well-optimized graphic that has no connection to the learning is still going to detract from the process, no matter how quickly it loads.

Learning is also dependent on the specific nature of the content as well as the information-processing abilities of the learner when presented with content.

To summarize, optimization of image and media assets in online learning resources is essential to ensure there’s no latency in delivery to the learner’s platform (to say nothing) of managing the load on the hosting server. However, it’s dangerous to infer that rapid loading of image assets means “rapid e-learning”, or even learning in general.

I would hope Lectora takes a similar view.

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About Mark L. Sheppard

learning geek, lifelong learner, terminally curious, recovering blogger and Ed Tech explorer.

Posted on September 29, 2012, in commentary, opinion, rapid development, readings, reflection, review, Technology and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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