In a breakout session at Innovate 2012, Tammy Thompson and Anthony Baker showed the power of images, simulations, and videos in learning. Thompson works in the Ohio State Health Sciences Library’s Digital Solutions area, which creates specialized digital content for faculty. She commented that in part her work has been inspired by “a shift of emphasis to design,” the third of five forward leaning trends in learning technologies that had been highlighted by White House staffer Constance Steinkuehler Squire, in her January 2012 talk at the Cyberlearning Research Summit. Thompson and Baker’s presentation emphasized the critical importance of this heightened emphasis on art and graphic design’s role in technology, which recognizes that technology’s focus should be on the user and on the technology’s usability.
Baker also works in the Health Sciences Library, on the Medical Visuals team. He highlighted ways that art and graphic design can be used to create visual teaching aids. In one example, he illustrated how an instructor could either make a point about a surgical technique with great difficulty, by using complicated medicalese, or very easily by using just a single image. In another example, Baker demonstrated how a timeline can be brought to life with the help of a few visual techniques.
Thompson described how doctors, an instructional designer, an illustrator, and technology specialists came together to create a useful Carmen resource for doctors helping to train medical students. Thompson also provided examples of how dry text can become much more accessible and memorable through the inclusion of images or animations, and commented that the use of humor in a presentation can also help improve understanding.
The presenters gave the audience a look at a Flash animation of a heart pumping and a whiteboard video explanation that had been inspired by this video. Baker also showed a narrated animation, created with Adobe Illustrator and Flash, that demonstrates a new surgical technique for removing every last bit of a cancerous tumor.
Thompson and Baker finished by offering some tips about how to get started with art and learning. For example, they recommended using consistent formatting, storytelling, and the power of two (using paired images). Each of their examples were well received and, like the Innovate conference as a whole, equipped attendees with many ideas about how to enhance learning with exciting resources available today.
Robert R. Klein is a PhD candidate in Geography at The Ohio Sate University.