Visual Learning

by Jay Cross on May 26, 2006

T+D Extra…    FROM THE ARCHIVES (2/2003)

Sight Mammals
By Jay Cross

Humans are sight mammals, proposes e-learning guru Jay Cross. They learn almost twice as well from images and words as from words alone. Visuals engage both hemispheres of the brain. Pictures translate across cultures, education levels, and age groups. Yet, most content of corporate learning is text. Schools spend years teaching how to read but only hours on visual literacy. It’s high time for us to open our eyes to the possibilities, Cross asserts.

Visual literacy–whether on paper or electronic–accelerates learning because the richness of the whole picture can be taken in at a glance. Visual metaphors unleash new ideas and spark innovation. Having a sharper eye increases the depth of one’s perception. Rather than walk you through the nuances of color, tone, texture, proportion, and so forth, Cross shares several ways that visuals contribute to his own learning.

People can create pictures as well as look at them. Cross often draws mind maps to brainstorm on his own and to clarify his thinking. He also assembles simple pictures to convey concepts, using PaintShop Pro.

The article shows approaches to using visuals that you can adapt.

To purchase a copy of the full article, go to the ASTD Online Store at

Or go to Internet Time’s Visual Learning Center. Check out Eyes Wide Shut and See What I Mean.

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