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Published on November 26, 2019

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 many forms 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 December 3, 2019

10 Highly-Desired Skills You Can Acquire By Self-Learning

10 Highly-Desired Skills You Can Acquire By Self-Learning

When you look past the swarms of shallow content, the internet can be an extremely helpful database. Never before did we have access to such a vast amount of knowledge, and it is distributed for free. With the right sources, each and every one of us has an opportunity to acquire a decent level of expertise in any particular field. It is also worth mentioning how a lot of tutorials are now uploaded in video form, allowing us to learn much more efficiently, due to the fact that we retain more information from watching a video than from reading a book.

Passion for self-learning is truly great, since we are, in a way, always perfecting our skills and constantly improving. In addition to self-improvement, you can easily acquire useful skills, and become competent enough to earn a good income. Another advantage of self-learning is attention to detail. People who took the time to educate themselves about a certain topic did it because they loved it, and managed to turn their hobby into a professional skill. They are, in the majority of cases, their own boss. They take special care of their customers, and not because someone else ordered them to. Of course, sometimes your skill-set will require you to work for someone else in order to efficiently monetize it. However, thanks to self-learning, you may be able to advance to a better position within the company much easier.

Finally, even if you don’t have a passion for certain jobs, do not be afraid. When you fully invest your time and effort into mastering something, it eventually becomes interesting. As long as you advance at a normal pace, you are highly unlikely to back off from self-learning projects.

Here are some great suggestions of skills anyone can acquire, and in time make some profit within the next few years.

1. Become a self-made handy man

Due to the vast change in lifestyle, and various advancement in technology, modern job descriptions usually involve a lot of sitting and typing. It is quite rare to be a proficient handyman, considering how these skills were usually passed on from our mentors face-to-face. Moreover, our educational system has conditioned our minds to regard these professions as something only underachievers take up. This is wrong. These skills are actually essential for a normal life.

So, if the ambition of your parents stirred you in a different direction, and you had no chance to learn how to be a handyman, you can go through some tutorial videos to learn how to do some basic tasks. You can also learn how to repair items – as long as the job you have to do is simple enough.

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Once you have fully mastered your handyman skills, you can start charging for your services. Believe it or not, there are job platforms that are specifically designed for handyman and people who are in need of house projects.

2. Learn photo and video editing

The art of photography and video making are skills that will rarely be left underutilized. As long as you are creative, and have a sharp eye for aesthetics and composition, you can become extremely successful in this area. Once again, these skills are compatible with self-learning procedures. There are plenty of tutorials on how to manipulate videos and photography. If you don’t find this line of work appealing, or you don’t really like to pay attention to details, I strongly suggest that you do not attempt to master these skills, since the whole thing will start to irritate you pretty quickly.

Photo and video editing is extremely slow at the beginning. It is only once you are fully acquainted with the different software that you can do achieve greater speed and efficiency. Then again, you can grow to love these hobbies, since your progress is clearly visible, and you will always strive to bring your photography editing skills to the next level. Job platforms like Upwork or Elance are the best places to start you career as a freelancer. IT firms which develop games and posters are constantly employing people with these skills. When you look for a job, there is no need for prior academic qualifications. All you need to do is show the sample of your work. This is definitely a plus.

3. Learn how to blog or vlog

Blogging is a great hobby. If anything, you will hone your writing skills and find your particular style, allowing you to eventually advance to blogs of greater quality and higher authority. Bloggers are really popular, since they offer valuable insights, tips, and hacks for people who need them. In fact, the tutorial videos and articles that are mentioned here all come from bloggers and vloggers. Because of their usefulness, some become popular enough that they are approached by companies to do product reviews.

Now, becoming a minor celebrity is not easy, and relying on celebrity status to make a profit is foolish. Luckily, even regular bloggers with good writing skills are noticed. Their services are financed by small business owners, so you can easily operate within your own niche. Also, there are sites like CareerAddict that are willing to pay for a quality post, so you can build your portfolio and get paid in the process. When it comes to self-learning, I strongly recommend finding a niche you are comfortable with and blogging on the subjects that are close to heart.

When we see a channel with a ridiculous amount of subscribers, we always wonder if we could pull the same thing off. Making videos on a topic you love and getting money for it is a dream job, right? Well, you don’t have to be a professional in order to get there; however, solid video editing expertise is also required. You will also need to know how to be a good performer if you want to make your show more enticing.

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Another important aspect of blogging and vlogging is how you present the information that you have. You can be an expert data-wise, but if you are unable to efficiently transfer your knowledge or get your point across, you won’t be able to attract a massive audience audience.

4. Learn to be good at a particular video game

Becoming an active member of the gaming community can be a true gold mine. Personally, my dream was to get paid for playing video games, but realistically speaking, it would only result in me hating what I do for living, since it becomes your obligation and really takes all the fun out of it. Now that is only my opinion, plus it only applies to extremely popular games with competitive play, mostly MOBAs (like League of Legends and DOTA).

A great deal of people who stream their gameplay experience and make “Let’s Play” videos are making good profit out of the hobby. The website called Twitch is filled with streamers and some of them receive ridiculous amounts of money. However, you do not work for anybody. Basically, people donate their money as they watch you play. If you are considering this option, do not bother with mastering the games which are already popular, find what’s the upcoming trend in the industry and begin with it immediately. You’ll have the best chance of attracting visitors.

5. Software and hardware hacks

This one is really self-explanatory. We heavily rely on our computers, so both software and hardware problems present quite a challenge. Due to the sensitive nature of the stored data, we choose not to try anything, and immediately call for help. Well, self-learning can eliminate this feeling of powerlessness, and knowing your way around the brain of the computer will always be useful. This does not apply only to computers – smartphones, tablets, and consoles are devices that we use all the time and are afraid to fix ourselves.

In other words, buy an external hard drive and store all the essential documents there, so you’ll have no fear if something goes wrong. If or when something goes wrong with your PC or other device, just browse the web for help, people have definitely experienced the same problem before. Find solutions and try to fix it yourself. If you are going to pay someone to do it, attempt to fix it yourself first – you are already paying, so why not make it a learning experience.

I did not have much experience when it comes to PC problems, but have conducted more than enough experiments on my Xbox. I always used a forum for figuring out those problems. Trust me, once you are capable of fixing these problems you become a hero in your neighbourhood, and your reputations starts to spread. One day you can definitely charge for those services, or provide great tutorials on the topic.

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6. Become an expert on a particular subject

This one is closely connected to blogging and vlogging. A high level of expertise will be helpful, especially if you pick a field which was not explained thoroughly so far. Now it is also important how you present your subject matter, because if it isn’t fun, people won’t stay on your channel for long. This is what being an expert is all about. Finding the best way to explain something to someone who has no idea about the subject. We all love to learn, but if we are unable to understand the subject it becomes tedious. I recently started to watch crash courses on YouTube, and I was sad I did not have this during elementary school and high school. I found most of these subjects tedious, but now I just go through the videos one after another. I can’t help being amazed by how good they are.

Another good example of this sort of channel is Extra Credits. They are really good at giving tips for game design, as well as covering interesting events from history. In other words, find what you love, delve deep into that topic and provide some constructive criticism. You should try to incite good debates and introduce some new points of view. If you love a particular book series or TV series, express your theories or find other good fan theories, and make videos to incite engagement among the community. These kinds of efforts are always noticed, and people in a similar niche are always willing to help you get noticed. When it comes to self-learning these channels are outstanding and the community is indeed friendly.

Experts are always needed. By having proof of your expertise, you can find a job more easily. A lot of firms rely on their websites as marketing tools, but Google made sure that spam material is no longer regarded as a viable link. In other words, you need to have truly useful information on your site, the type of information an expert can provide. I recently stumbled upon a great blog on one website. You can actually find out a lot about law and rights and how it works. This is a topic people usually neglect to study, we only memorize a few rules which we see in crime and lawyer TV shows. There is another section about criminal psychology, which is a topic I personally find extremely interesting.

These were all examples how one topic can provide a myriad of unique content ideas for vlogging and blogging, as long as it is tackled in a correct manner. So, do your research, become an expert, show your expertise, and you will surely get noticed. Use the links as your guidelines to adequately transfer your knowledge on video or text.

7. Start inventing your own recipes

We have all seen those shows on 24 hour food channels, and yes a lot of meals look delicious, but when I look at all the ingredients they use, it just seems like too much trouble. Wouldn’t it be so much better if one could come up with a recipe for a delicious meal made out of things that are most commonly found in the fridge and cupboard. If there is one thing people love it is easy and delicious solutions, and this is quite hard to pull off.

You do not even have to be a professional cook to be famous, take a look at the Epic Meal Time channel. They rely on excessive use of bacon and other ingredients high in cholesterol, but their meals are simply awe-inspiring. You do not need to learn how to cook simply to have your own show, and there are many more advantages. Believe it or not, cooking can be helpful if you want to travel the world. There are many programs in search of cooks who are willing to prepare food for passengers on a cruise. The job is exhausting, but the pay is good. Plus, you get to visit all sorts of interesting locations.

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Cooking is one of the best examples of self-learning. After all,  you can’t become good from reading a recipe – you have to try it on your own, add a personal touch, and experiment with ingredients before you find the perfect balance. Here is a good place to start learning, it’s called the Cooking ChannelOnce you master some of the meals, you can add your personal touch to them.

8. Learn some artistic skills – illustration or photography

These skills are best combined with the previously mentioned photo and video editing. Being a designer and drawing what you want is great, but working for clients can be bothersome. It can be difficult to transfer someone else’s vision to the screen or a piece of paper. We live in the era of comic books, video games, and movies packed with special effects – good illustrators are always welcome. Once again, this is a dream big scenario, more down to Earth solutions include working for IT firms or designing covers for books and albums. Still, it is an impressive skill that can be attained through self-learning. Once again, rely on tutorials to aid you in your progress, and learn how to be a self-made graphic designer.

With all this new technology, photography is much easier now than it used be. Plus, with all the filters and different lenses, high quality photography takes up significantly less time. However, you’ll still need some sort of guide to get you started and a good camera, of course. After that, you can let your imagination and inner artist guide your actions. People are always willing to pay money for good photography. They need it for articles, blog posts, commercials, posters, web sites, etc. A good photographer is also hired to take pictures and record special events, making this another good choice for a self-learning career.

9. Learn how to code

If you know how to code, create, and maintain websites, you’ll have job in no time. It is hard to master, and will take some time. It is also not as interesting to master as other skills, but the pay is great. WordPress is the most learner-friendly platform. Everyone will tell you to start with this one if you are new to programming. In order to be good at coding you will need to learn programming languages, but after numerous drills, you’ll get a hang of it. I really love that one saying, “Programming is like writing a book… except if you miss out a single coma on page 126 the whole thing make no sense.” Unfortunately, this is quite true, and once you start learning you’ll see why people pay good money for this job. It’s not impossible to learn on your own, but buckle up for one uncomfortable ride.

Also, coding will not get the job done on its own. You’ll need to be a solid web designer to create a website that someone would buy. We have all seen poorly designed sites and did not bother to check what they were about, since no one is impressed with sloppy work. Once you master coding, go through some web design guides, and build your own website as a portfolio. You can start as a freelancer, and you’ll be able to find a job offer rather quickly. In other words, if you are looking for a high-paying self-learning skill to master, you can’t possibly go wrong with this one.

10. Learn how to present what you are capable of

Finally, in order to get the job and be chosen over your competitors, you’ll have to know how to present yourself. After all, you only got one shot at a first impression. Find out how to build your resume, find out what is required of you as an employee, and how to adequately express yourself during a job interview. You can be brilliant, but if you lack certain qualities of a good employee, you’ll have a hard time monetizing your skill-set. We commonly feel nervous during these situations. However, if you can manage to navigate through the interview correctly, you can score your first job.

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