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How to Use Visual Learning to Learn Effectively

How to Use Visual Learning to Learn Effectively

People learn in different ways; and out of the 6 types of learning, one is particularly interesting — that is those who partake in visual learning.

These are the people who envision precise locations, have a near-photographic memory or can remember covers of books or specific details vividly.

These people possess truly unique abilities, however, one of the problems visual learners face is their uphill battle with learning. Ever since elementary school, our education system is a system that benefits primarily one form of learning over others.

And while our education system isn’t good in accommodating visual learning, the learning community at large has uncovered a wide variety of information.

In fact, there are some highly effective learning techniques that visual learners can use to learn effectively now and for the future.

The Characteristics of a Visual Learner

To determine whether visual learning is best for you, it’s worth looking at characteristics. In school settings, study.com uncovered the following traits:[1]

  • Remember what they read over what they hear.
  • Prefer reading stories over listening.
  • Learn through sight.
  • Use diagrams, charts, and drawings to understand ideas and concepts.
  • They will take notes during classes and presentations.
  • They study by reviewing things.
  • Have good spelling.
  • Requires them to have a quiet space and time to study.
  • Prefer working alone rather than in groups.
  • Will ask questions to clarify.

Visual learners also portray the following characteristics:

  • Can recall faces, but not names.
  • Have a good sense of direction and are good with maps.
  • Make to-do lists.
  • Will notice changes in appearance in both physical space and in people.
  • Often are quiet and shy.
  • Have a good sense of fashion.
  • Make plans for the future.

The Perks of Visual Learning

While visual learners can benefit from this unique way of learning, those who aren’t visual learners can still reap benefits from it.

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While everyone has their own preference for learning, studies show that a predominant amount of us are visually inclined. Consider the work of Silverman L.K. who in 2002 did a study of 750 students in two schools.[2]

From the study, Silverman discovered 63% of students surveyed were visual-spatial learners. The problem is that those talents couldn’t be seen well seeing as the education system lacked support in that area.

By including more visual learning in the classroom, those individuals will reap the benefits. Even the auditory learners can get benefits as well. This is based on Richard Mayer’s work who, in 2009, found that when using texts and graphics, retention increased by 42%.[3]

Here’s what visual learning can do in terms of effective learning:

Help Store Info Longer

Our brains process pictures faster than they do words. Whenever we see pictures, they are etched in our long-term memory, allowing us to recall concepts and ideas.

Make Communication Quicker And Simpler

Do you know why so many blog posts are listed in bullets? Do you know why people get headaches or confused when they see massive walls of text and no paragraphs?

It’s because we’ve learned that breaking information into smaller sections – and using bullet points – can help in processing information better. It’s the same idea as using an image or video for learning. This was uncovered by the Visual Teaching Alliance which has listed all kinds of facts on visual learning.[4]

What all this means is that, since we have a bias towards images, videos, and bullet points for learning, the best way for us to convey ideas is to use these methods in future teaching methods. These mediums can help us convey ideas in many ways compared to walls of text.

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Serve as a Stimulus for Emotions

Emotions and visual information are processed in the exact same spot in our brain. Because of this connection, if we use plenty of visuals to stir emotions, people will be able to form links easier. All because they got an emotional response from something.

This idea is similar to why we consume content in general, the headline pulls us in because it stirs an emotion within us.

Inspire People

We all have subjects that we’re not that excited for or that we struggle to grasp. Whatever the case is, visual has a way of sparking motivation and interest.

There is that emotional aspect I mentioned, but the idea of putting in videos, images, and graphics break up the boredom of information and motivate and excite people.

When we are engaged with what we’re learning -even if it’s something we’re not remotely keen on – it can still benefit us.

How a Visual Learner Learns Best

Visual learners need to embrace visual learning techniques and strategies to learn effectively. Like with any other learning style, there are a number of ways for you to gain benefits. Broadly speaking, some strategies that ThoughtCo [5] have brought up come to mind:

  • Taking notes as you learn.
  • Studying by yourself.
  • Sitting closer to the instructor in classroom settings.

But there are other techniques that can be considered as well. Here are four other highly regarded techniques:

1. Use To-Do Lists

With so many things on the go, it makes sense for people to start organizing duties once more in to-do lists. Even if you’re not a visual learner, a to-do list can let you order tasks based on importance and boost your productivity.

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In learning settings, this also adds structure. People can understand and process what is being covered over the course of the class or lecture. In a sense, it outlines the person’s goals and intentions.

What’s also nice about to-do lists is their flexibility. For example, some people have decided to color-code tasks or use various shapes and symbols. These pull the attention of the individual and can serve as a guiding post for them.

2. Add Graphs And Charts

Adding in graphs and charts to convey ideas is another way to learn effectively. It’s along the same lines as using to-do lists, though this is more time-consuming.

Using graphs and charts can help in a wide variety of areas for personal life, and for learning. Graphs and charts can help you keep an eye on finances and budgeting for example. In learning, they can be used to convey ideas and enhance your learning.

Further exploring this, graphs can help us develop data literacy.[6] Since graphs and charts can be used in all manner of things, we can use data literacy to ask meaningful questions which can deepen our learning experience.

3. Use Mind-Mapping

Mind-mapping is a form of note-taking that specifically benefits visual learning. The idea with mind-mapping is to display relationships and connections to people, places, events and more.

This technique helps with broad learning of particular concepts, but it has other applications as well. You can use this to break down tasks – similar to to-do lists – and it can measure your productivity as well.

Learn more about mind-mapping in this article: How to Mind Map: Visualize Your Cluttered Thoughts in 3 Simple Steps

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4. Use Videos

As mentioned above, videos have a way of gripping people’s attention, so why not incorporate it into your learning?

We all have a little bit of visual learning in us, so videos greatly benefit everyone in the room. It allows us to recreate those stories into clear pictures in our minds.

I would encourage you to be creative with videos. While you can try to record the lecturer or their words can help you, it might also benefit you to record yourself and make videos explaining certain concepts. This helps with the learning process because we often use hand gestures and other techniques instinctively to say what we mean; even outside of learning atmospheres.

Final Thoughts

While visual learning has a lot of benefits, it’s not the only learning style that helps with your learning. Each learning style has its benefits and everyone has their own preferences.

The key to visual learning is that since so many of us have some visual learning aspect, we should use it to complement our learning experience. And based on the various techniques and effects, visual learning can definitely help you learn faster.

More About Learning

Featured photo credit: Chang Duong via unsplash.com

Reference

More by this author

Leon Ho

Founder & CEO of Lifehack

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Last Updated on July 21, 2021

How to Stop Information Overload and Get More Done

How to Stop Information Overload and Get More Done

Information overload is a creature that has been growing on the Internet’s back since its beginnings. The bigger the Internet gets, the more information there is. The more quality information we see, the more we want to consume it. The more we want to consume it, the more overloaded we feel.

This has to stop somewhere. And it can.

As the year comes to a close, there’s no time like the present to make the overloading stop.

But before I explain exactly what I mean, let’s discuss information overload in general.

How Serious Is Information Overload?

The sole fact that there’s more and more information published online every single day is not the actual problem. Only the quality information becomes the problem.

This sounds kind of strange…but bear with me.

When we see some half-baked blog posts we don’t even consider reading, we just skip to the next thing. But when we see something truly interesting — maybe even epic — we want to consume it.

We even feel like we have to consume it. And that’s the real problem.

No matter what topic we’re interested in, there are always hundreds of quality blogs publishing entries every single day (or every other day). Not to mention all the forums, message boards, social news sites, and so on.

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The amount of epic content on the Internet these days is so big that it’s virtually impossible for us to digest it all. But we try anyway.

That’s when we feel overloaded. If you’re not careful, one day you’ll find yourself reading the 15th blog post in a row on some nice WordPress tweaking techniques because you feel that for some reason, “you need to know this.”

Information overload is a plague. There’s no vaccine, there’s no cure. The only thing you have is self-control.

Luckily, you’re not on your own. There are some tips you can follow to protect yourself from information overload and, ultimately, fight it.

But first, admit that information overload is really bad for you.

Why Information Overload Is Bad for You

Information overload stops you from taking action. That’s the biggest problem here.

When you try to consume more and more information every day, you start to notice that even though you’ve been reading tons of articles, watching tons of videos and listening to tons of podcasts, the stream of incoming information seems to be infinite.

Therefore, you convince yourself that you need to be on a constant lookout for new information if you want to be able to accomplish anything in your life, work and/or passion. The final result is that you are consuming way too much information, and taking way too little action because you don’t have enough time for it.

The belief that you need to be on this constant lookout for information is just not true.

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You don’t need every piece of advice possible to live your life, do your work or enjoy your passion.

How to Stop Information Overload (And Start to Achieve More)

So how to recognize the portion of information that you really need? Start with setting goals.

1. Set Your Goals

If you don’t have your goals put in place, you’ll be just running around grabbing every possible advice and thinking that it’s “just what you’ve been looking for.”

Setting goals is a much more profound task than just a way to get rid of information overload. Now by “goals” I don’t mean things like “get rich, have kids, and live a good life”. I mean something much more within your immediate grasp. Something that can be achieved in the near future — like within a month (or a year) at most.

Basically, something that you want to attract to your life, and you already have some plan on how you’re going to make it happen. So no hopes and dreams, just actionable, precise goals.

Then once you have your goals, they become a set of strategies and tactics you need to act upon.

2. Know What to Skip When Facing New Information

Once you have your goals, plans, strategies and tasks, you can use them to decide what information is really crucial.

First of all, if the information you’re about to read has nothing to do with your current goals and plans, then skip it. You don’t need it.

If it does, then ask yourself these questions:

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  • Will you be able to put this information into action immediately?
  • Does it have the potential to maybe alter your nearest actions/tasks?
  • Is it so incredible that you absolutely need to take action on it right away?

If the information is not actionable in a day or two, then skip it.

(You’ll forget about it anyway.) And that’s basically it.

Digest only what can be used immediately. If you have a task that you need to do, consume only the information necessary for getting this one task done, nothing more.

You need to be focused in order to have clear judgment, and be able to decide whether some piece of information is mandatory or redundant.

Self-control comes handy too. It’s quite easy to convince yourself that you really need something just because of poor self-control. Try to fight this temptation, and be as ruthless about it as possible – if the information is not matching your goals and plans, and you can’t take action on it in the near future, then SKIP IT.

3. Be Aware of the Minimal Effective Dose

There’s a thing called the MED – Minimal Effective Dose. I was first introduced to this idea by Tim Ferriss. In his book The 4-Hour BodyTim illustrates the minimal effective dose by talking about medical drugs.

Everybody knows that every pill has a MED, and after that specific dose, no other positive effects occur, only some negative side effects if you overdose big.

Consuming information is somewhat similar. You need just a precise amount of it to help you to achieve your goals and put your plans into life.

Everything more than that amount won’t improve your results any further. And if you try to consume too much of it, it will eventually stop you from taking any action altogether.

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4. Don’t Procrastinate by Consuming More Information

Probably one of the most common causes of consuming ridiculous amounts of information is the need to procrastinate. By reading yet another article, we often feel that we are indeed working, and that we’re doing something good – we’re learning, which in result will make us a more complete and educated person.

This is just self-deception. The truth is we’re simply procrastinating. We don’t feel like doing what really needs to be done – the important stuff – so instead we find something else, and convince ourselves that “that thing” is equally important. Which is just not true.

Don’t consume information just for the sake of it. It gets you nowhere.

The focus of this article is not on how to stop procrastinating, but if you’re having such issue, I recommend you read this: Procrastination – A Step-By-Step Guide to Stop Procrastinating

Summing It Up

As you can see, information overload can be a real problem and it can have a sever impact on your productivity and overall performance.

I know I have had my share of problems with it (and probably still have from time to time). But creating this simple set of rules helps me to fight it, and to keep my lizard brain from taking over.

I hope it helps you too, especially as we head into a new year with a new chance at setting ourselves up for success.

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Featured photo credit: Pexels via pexels.com

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