Graphics for Learning.

Author:Jones, Diane Sidwell

Graphics for Learning, Book, 2004, Pfeiffer & Company, $51.

Support: CD-ROM.

Time spent in art, photography, and Photoshop classes gave me a greater appreciation for graphic artists, but it left me yearning to find a clearer explanation between visuals and instructional strategy.

I finally found a graphics design reference book that speaks my language as an instructional designer. Graphics for Learning: Proven Guidelines for Planning, Designing, and Evaluating Visuals in Training Materials provides an explanation of the visual design process in the context of familiar themes in the instructional design process.

This does not mean that instructional designers are the only target readers. For example, the book also addresses how graphic arts professionals can enhance their skills to support learning and job performance goals.

Readers who are more involved in the selection instead of the production of instructional materials will also benefit. For this last group, learning more about the visual design process will help to make better decisions about the investment of production time (and its financial cost) to promote better learning.

However, the promise to help readers that have no graphics talent prompted me to dive into the book further.

Easy entrance

The authors set a comfortable, inviting environment for instructional designers in the first section of the book by defining the visual model process in an instructional model framework. After all, we learn best in a realistic work setting, right?

The model appropriately begins with defining instructional goals and works through the analysis phases so that the end result is a harmonious blend of psychological learning guidelines that support visual design decisions.

In the second section, the authors provide a convincing case, based on research, of the best use of graphics. They focus on the experience of the learner. Once again, this approach fits with the best examples in instructional design.

For example, instructional events such as gaining attention, recalling prior knowledge, minimizing cognitive load, and supporting motivation are everyday decisions in an instructional designer's life.

I especially appreciated how the book shows the interrelationship between content types and graphical types in the third section. The goal of both of these classification groups is to help learners build mental models. This allows learners to apply the concepts to perform tasks, solve problems, and make...

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