Problems of using visual aids in education and how to fix them

While firmly believing in the power of visual aids in education, we are aware of the concerns educators might have in using visual aids in the classroom, especially educational animations, which are not ideal for all learning situations. We aim to explain these concerns by dissecting some potential problems of using visual aids in teaching and how to fix them. Followed after would be a list of subjects that visuals are particularly helpful in learning.

Problems of using visual aids in education and how to fix them

Teachers now use 3 types of visual aids in education the most. They are: Educational poster, educational infographic and educational animation. Stand above all, using animated educational video is an up-rising trend. It can make visual aid not only simpler and less cluttered, but also more vivid, engaging and more intuitively comprehended.

Visual aids in education, especially animations do have great potential. However, it doesn’t mean there is no downside. When visual aids are not beneficial to learning, it is often due to poor design, presentation to the wrong audience, or the type of visual aids teachers choose is not suitable for the topic.

Here are potential downsides you might get when using visual aids in teaching

Distracting rather than learning

It is perhaps the most common concerns about using visual aids in education. Questions could be: what if students don’t learn anything and all they get is a few minutes watching videos? Or can visual delivery meaningful knowledge to a wide range of students?

So how exactly can animations distract learner from learning? And most importantly, how to fix them?


Researchers say that a key problem with animation format is information overload. Most instructional animations are not paved for the limited capacity of working memory. During an animation, learners must quickly select the relevant information and hold that in memory to integrate it with what comes next. This creates a high cognitive load that may hinder the resources available for learning

How to fix:

Adjust your movement speed by getting student feedbacks in class. If your animated videos are for eLearning, provide controls so the learner can slow down to a comfortable pace and allow them to rewind the animation.

Split attention:

When an animated sequence requires reading text and watching the animation, it splits the attention of the viewer,. Because the viewer cannot attend to both reading and watching movement at the same time, neither channel is attended to properly.

How to fix:

Use voiceover in sync with the animation rather than written text. Use least text as possible. Place the labels next to the objects or process that they present so attention will not be split.

Not sure where to look:

It can be hard for learners to quickly determine which parts of an animation are most relevant and which are not. In fact, some of the more dazzling elements may not be the most important but will attract the most attention.

How to fix:

Use visual cueing devices in animations to point out where learners should place their attention. There is some evidence that a spotlight cue (where less important areas are shaded) is effective. In another experiment, arrows were not as effective as spreading color cues overlaid on salient part of the animation. the color should spread synchronously with important events.

Illusion of learning:

Some researchers report that students may enjoy watching animations over static graphics. This positive affect creates the illusion that the learner has acquired more knowledge or skill than assessment result show.

How to fix:

Use appropriate method to determine if learning is taking place. Don’t rely on self-reporting alone.

All in all, creating effective visual aids for educational purpose is not simply whipping up some pretty pictures. It is about delivering a meaningful piece of knowledge to your students. Therefore, a clear understanding of the message being delivered and the audience is very important! Remember these 3 guideline below for your next animated educational videos:

First of all, the effectiveness of visual aids depends greatly on the creator of these contents. You need to have a clear aim and deep understanding of the lesson in order to create an effective visual.

Secondly, whether or not the aid is distracting the students away from the lesson or not depends on the element of design. Although it might sound like effort, in design: less is more. Remember: it is the visualization of the knowledge that makes the success of a visual aid. So be clear and straight to the point.

Thirdly, there needs to be an appropriate understanding of what could be delivered effectively through visual aids. Some teaching materials are simply not suitable for the use of visual means. Therefore, creating visuals for these materials might not be worth the while.

Costly and difficult to operate

This might be another popular concern with using visual aids in the classroom amongst educators. Especially with the development of technologies in education, paying and adapting to these methods tend to be the main concern.

To resolve the financial math questions, we offer two ways of looking at things:

Visual aids are extremely diverse

Otherwise, visual aids can simply be the VISUALISATION of the learning materials. What does it mean? It could range anything from scribbles on the blackboard, to pictures on a presentation to an animated story of the lessons. Knowing what is available and choosing the most appropriate ones for your course will ultimately lead to a desirable effect.

Yes, there might more advanced, interesting methods worth looking into like animation or educational videos. For these methods, you need to invest quite a bit of investment to get it properly running. (Still, if you are interested, there are still innovative teaching methods for you to try it out).


To consider something costly, it is best to compare and understand two things about the products: 1 is its effectiveness to solving your issues (will it make a better learning environment) and 2 is the effort that goes into producing this product.

Therefore, in order to find something that is suitable for and worth your money. Some diggings about the tool you want to use need to be done in order to make the most out of your investment. Newer technologies make animations easier to create at affordable price. You can choose animation making platforms, like Vyond (GoAnimate) or VideoScribe for $40 subscription fee per month. These applications already set up a massive library of animation assets including characters, backgrounds, and objects so anyone can animate. However, they are lack of specialized and customized details. If you want a customized, tailor-made video fits perfectly to your course, animation studios are your options. The price this time can

Now, if you have decided that visual is the answer to your wants and needs, maybe you’re curious what subjects would work best with the visual method? Let’s have a look:

Maybe you are interested in:
» How much does an educational animation cost per minute: $30, $150 or $ 3000?

Subjects that are best taught visually

It is true that visual aids can have an amazing effect on learning if used appropriately. However, another factor that could make or break the success of using visual aid is whether the nature of the lesson itself is suitable.

In teaching music, for example, if you are teaching musical theories, it could be fun to turn (musical signs) into fun little character to attract attention. But if you’re teaching students how to play the piano with the notes, nothing can beat actual practicing.

Now, you must be curious about what subjects can visual aid has the most powerful effect on. From our experiences of working with many educational institutions, this is what we can suggest: 

Abstract (theoretical based) concepts:

Many subjects that dealt greatly with theoretical concepts such as mathematics or physics can post a challenge to educators. Even simple concepts like multiplication can be hard to teach to 9 years old. This is where visual tools can come to the rescue.

Ted-Ed or School of Life is perhaps the best examples of effective uses of this sort of videos. This is a specific example of how animation that F-Studio produces is used as a teaching tool, particularly for using a bar model in mathematics at primary level

Unobservable phenomena:

These phenomena are usually thought of as scientific ones such as the tiny bitsy organisms or the extremely large planets. In this sense, science, geology, and biology can benefit immensely from visual tools.

However, unobservable phenomena can also be useful for subjects such as history, civic education or literature. This is because visualizations of this knowledge as stories attract and engage learners through relating it to themselves.

Sequences and relationship

This very much taps into visual’s ability to let us see the big picture. Sometimes, it can be hard to follow or imagine a concept as a part of a larger process.

And it is not even about whether the concept is easy but more about having to remember both the concept and where it lies.


Many subjects include concepts and terms that need memorization. As suggested, in our The power of visual in teaching and learning article, associating these terms with relatable and funny images can enhance the remembering of these terms.

Read Further:
» Guideline to create effective fun-based learning videos 

Visual is such a powerful tool for these types of knowledge. The most common examples like in charts or graphs. A more successful story could be Prezi, a presentation tool that makes use of this feature of visual aids. This tool allows the presenter to first introduce the big picture before going into details by zooming indirectly.


In the end, animations, or visual aids in education are like other teaching tools, still have disadvantages. However, its potential is beyond its risk. All you have to do is stay away from the mistake we list above, the you can get much better result.

Now we hope that you have equipped for yourself a fair amount of knowledge on why visual can be misunderstood. We hope you could decide the next step in choosing the right tools to enhance learning in your classroom. Perhaps if you are thinking about using it in your next class. Well then, check out our articles on how to choose the most suitable visual aids for you.

>> How to design visual aids for teaching purpose

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