Using Images and Visualizations in Video Can Enhance Learning

Moia Rowsome Blog


processing information with visualizations

How often do you look at an image to try to solve a problem or understand something complex? What about Google Maps or a subway station map? Or a How-To instruction manual with images to help you building your new book case?

I know I use visualizations every day. They can serve to enhance our understanding and perception of a concept. Not only are they engaging, colorful, and even fun at times, they help the audience to assimilate information by making it more digestible and comprehensive.

With 30hands Pro and Web, you can easily use images to explain a concept and energize a digital story. This can help your learners engage in the key concepts that you want them to absorb while avoiding overloading them with TMI (too much information!).

Visualizations are everywhere in learning

Never before have visualizations been more widely accessible than in the last decade. Sure, they have been used in books and presentations to explain a concept for a learner for a long time. However, with the explosion of technology, we have new tools to create and disseminate images, visualizations and animations for widespread consumption. This has opened up many new opportunities for educators and learners.

Chief among these opportunities? Using images and visualizations in video.

Learning from Video with 30hands


using images in 30hands web

The use of visualizations in a video to explain a concept is a game changer for teachers and learners. And this has only become easier with tools like 30hands Pro and Web. With narration and annotation to enhance the images, the learner can focus in on the important or relevant elements at hand. They can benefit from the video anytime, anywhere. They can pause it and rewind it back to analyse a visual at any time. The video can be kept on file for them to return to at a later date. It can be saved on their phone, their hard drive, their Google Drive or DropBox to be accessed whenever they see fit. So a new era of cataloging learning has emerged.



Think before you create

With videos becoming a key medium for obtaining content and learning, it is important to think of how our learners or audience will absorb the information. We all want to avoid death by Powerpoint as well as avoiding overloading our learners with too many gimmicks and ‘TMI’. Videos made with an abundance of visuals, narration, text, annotation, drawing and so on can only serve to confuse the learner and make them switch off. Literally and figuratively. So what do we have to keep in mind when creating videos for others to learn?

  • Offloading information


Using simple diagrams instead of lots of text can help the learner visualize a concept. If we look at an image that represents a complex idea, it can reduce the amount of cognitive effort it takes to solve or understand it (Scaife & Rogers, 1996). Think about this – if I try to explain to you the inner layout and workings of the heart in text, you will probably find it quite difficult to comprehend and remember everything I tell you. 

However, if you look at a simple diagram of the heart (click on the image to the right), you will be able to grasp it as the information is offloaded on to the page and your brain can then assimilate the information more easily.

  • Working Memory

The use of labeling and color coding in an image or diagram can really support our comprehension. If this image is used in a video with simple narration and annotation to highlight talking points, this will make the cognitive process much easier for the learner. Information should be introduced incrementally, with less text and more narration and highlighting. And of course, redundant information should be eliminated. (Mayer & Moreno, 2003).

By grouping information together like this, the viewer does not have to search through lots of elements to get the information. This in turn supports our working memory and avoids the dreaded cognitive overload.

  • Boosting engagement

The use of color can serve to engage the learner in a different and new way instead of text. If you use effective intonation and avoid a drone boring tone, you are more likely to  keep you learners engaged.

  • Cognitive and perceptual benefits lead to self explanation


If the learner engages in self explanation of a concept, it means that they are learning the content more deeply. Students are more likely to engage in self explanation if they are given a visual to study instead of text. (Chi et al 1989). There are cognitive and perceptual benefits to this. If you don’t have to use as many cognitive resources to process the diagram, you should have some resources left to engage in explanation.

Images do not replace reading tasks

In saying all of this, I do not intend to advocate eliminating reading from our learners’ menu of activities. Literacy is one of the most important skills a person will ever have, and engaging in complex reading tasks is key to developing this skill. Our learners do need to be challenged cognitively and have to use their brains to solve complex problems! And having everything handed to them where they don’t have to use cognitive processes to work things out is doing them a massive disservice. However, it is important to consider times when it may help our learner grasp a complex concept. It’s in these cases where visualizations are the way to go.

To sum up, here are my 5 takeaway points on what to keep in mind when creating a 30hands video for your learners:

1. Use simple diagrams to boost learner comprehension.

2. Use less text and more images and diagrams.

3. Use color and energetic intonation to keep you learner engaged.

4. Stagger your labeling incrementally to optimize your learner’s cognitive load.

5. Engage your learners in complex reading tasks too!

So try 30hands today and see how you can engage your students with colorful video lessons! Here’s a short model of what you could do.



Chi, M., T., H., Bassok, M., Lewis, M. T., Reimann, P. & Glaser, R. (1989). Self-explanations: How students study and use examples in learning to solve problems. Cognitive Science, 13 (2), 145-182.Scaife,

Scaife, M., & Rogers, Y. (1996). External cognition: How do graphical representations work? International Journal of Human-Computer Studies, 45(2), 185-213.

Mayer, R., Moreno, R., (2003)., Nin Ways to Reduce Cognitive Load in Elearning. Educational Psychologist. Volume 8, p. 43-52.

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