The importance of using visual aids in teaching

Today’s students are surrounded by visual media through the heavy use of internet. They have grown accustomed to accessing information in both textual and visual forms. The use of visual aids is a pedagogical strategy aimed at engaging students who have grown up in a media-rich environment.

“Do not tell me; show me” – I always believed that theory was best learnt in practice, but we cannot always apply theory during our educational career. However, using images, diagrams and video tutorials I found that these aided me in the understanding and retention of concepts during my studies.

One of the most important aspects of teaching is to motivate the students’ interest and promote their lateral thinking. It is not an easy task to keep students engaged and motivated during a lesson, especially when the topics are not easy to grasp from a student’s perspective. Visual aids can help in this aspect.

Visual aids incorporate pictures, diagrams, charts, graphs or videos which assist students in their understanding of a lesson or concept. These also help to make a point or enhance a lesson or presentation. For example, if a student had to name the parts of the human face, photographs of people could be used as visual aids.

There are different ways to enhance a lesson using visual aids. These can save time for a teacher who needs to prepare a lesson and for the students who need to retain the information from the lesson. Here are some of the benefits of using visual aids in a lesson:

Visual aids assist students in the understanding and remembering of concepts more easily

When teaching a concept using visuals, you are giving students something that they can associate with the concept when they try to recall it. All they must do is visualise the image that was used.

Visual aids reduce the time spent on talking

Visual aids assist you in presenting a lesson clearly and smoothly, without complications or tangents. They allow you to explain the meaning behind vocabulary and structures without having to go into great detail. In addition, questions can be asked about your visual aids to motivate students’ talking time and lead them to answers.

For example, if your visual aid is the timeline of Nelson Mandela’s life, you can ask them “How long was Nelson Mandela imprisoned for?” They would then recall the visual timeline to answer the question.

Visual aids provide a guiding point to refer to throughout a lesson

Visual aids not only help in aiding understanding, but also assist students to refer to previous visuals they have learnt in class or in a specific lesson.

For example, if your students use the incorrect grammar or vocabulary to describe a previous concept or topic from a lesson, you can direct them back to the visual aid as if to say: “Try and say it as we practised earlier”.

Visual aids make a lesson more dynamic and fun

Visual aids add some spark and colour to your lessons and reduce the text-heavy content with which students are presented. They aid in capturing their attention and take focus off depending solely on the teacher or textbook.

Now that some of the benefits of using visual aids have been outlined, let’s look at some visual aids that work.

There are many games and activities that can be used for visuals, but we will not be touching on the in-depth activities here. Rather, I want to show how you can use visuals to introduce new words or clarify concepts without having to give lengthy explanations. We make use of such visual aids throughout Cambrilearn.

Pictures

Pictures are great for presenting anatomy, nouns, formulas, timelines and much more, basically any concept or structure that can be visualised or exists in reality. The use of images must relate to what is being mentioned in the text that accompanies it. For younger students, include questions within the accompanying text such as “What do you see in the picture below?” Be sure to use pictures that relate directly to the topic so that the connections to the picture can be made. With older students, you can have pictures before the topic is mentioned so that they can predict what will be discussed. Using this method provokes the students’ interest and captures their attention before the topic is mentioned.

Here are a few ways to incorporate pictures into teaching:

  • Diagrams: Create diagrams such as timelines, flow charts and even real-life photos accompanied by labels with descriptions to illustrate properly the topic or structure. Students can easily recall any key topics by remembering the diagram.
  • Use of cartoons: Cartoons or illustrations create a fun and colourful lesson as students are accustomed to them. An illustrated story with dialogue can be used to explain direct and reported speech, with the student able to identify who the speaker and listener are.
  • Pop culture: These days, students make use of social platforms which can be used to their advantage. If you relate a lesson to actual events that are trending on social media, students will be engaged in the lesson as this sparks their social interest. So do not be scared to screenshot trends and use them in a lesson.

Multimedia

Multimedia includes animation, live video and tutorials which aid in engaging the student as opposed to having them read through the content, especially for older students who make use of internet sources to aid their understanding. Currently, students often use YouTube to view video content for entertainment, news and social trends. So why not use this for educational purposes? In our fast-paced technological society education has to adapt to new platforms and methods of presenting topics as opposed to an encyclopaedia, dictionary or textbook. This only makes a student’s entrenchment of information easier.

Here are a few ways to incorporate multimedia into teaching:

  • Animations: Make use of educational animations of which there is an abundance on the internet and you can begin by searching on YouTube. Find an educational animation that will relate and aid in the understanding of the topic of your lesson. This will reduce time spent on in-depth explanations of certain topics within lessons.
  • GIFs: The Graphics Interchange Format better known by its acronym GIF is a bitmap image that refers to a sequence of images which creates a short animation. If you cannot make use of videos, then GIFs would be the next best solution as they can be inserted as an image to digital text within a word or PDF document. There are many GIFs, for example, diagrams depicting the flow of currents such as electricity, water or radio waves.
  • Live recordings: Recording a lesson using a camera or phone can be useful for home schooling. When students are in different locations, they can still experience a classroom lesson and feel engaged by the teacher.
  • Live-streams or chat rooms: Through the use of webcams and camera phones it has become easier to interact with friends and family on a video call. This can also be used to create a digital classroom through an online platform that allows video conference calls. This will give a full-on experience of teacher and student interaction with real-time solutions for any questions or problems a student may be facing within a particular lesson.

Social media

Students spend most of their time on social media sites such as Facebook, Instagram and Twitter. This often diverts their attention away from their studies and plays a big role in distractions. However, what if teachers were on theses social platforms? Teachers can guide the students’ attention towards educational content within social media.

Here are a few platforms to incorporate into teaching:

  • Facebook: By creating a profile with an alias best suited for your subject of choice you can upload interesting facts about certain topics within this subject. Students can be referred to online content via the posts you upload to your profile page. This way a teacher can encourage more interest in the topics up for discussion within the subject.
  • Instagram: Instagram makes use of images and short videos which can be used to post real-life experiences related to content, and also creates an audience of students who can follow your everyday posts and gain insight into your subject based on what you post.

At CambriLearn we already have an online presence. Here are some of the links to our online profiles:

We are facing an advanced technological world that evolves at a rapid pace. Education has suffered because of the lack of adaptation to technological devices and online platforms that can be utilised to create a digital classroom. At CambriLearn, we have adopted technology to benefit the new generation of students who are accustomed to technology and the easy access to information on the internet. We utilise all forms of visual aids to encourage our students to engage with our educational content at an optimal level.

2 thoughts on “The importance of using visual aids in teaching

  1. Lisette Steyn says:

    My boy is 14years old. How will your program effect my borderline autism child. He is grd 7, I want him to do grd 7 again next year. Would like to know how mutch it will be for the year?

    • Matthew Henry says:

      Thank you for your comment, one of Cambrilearn’s business developers will keep in touch with you to address your question.

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