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Convergence 2022

Feb. 23, 2022

CONVERGENCE Health Care Education Conference 2022

Designing Meaningful Visuals for eLearning: Learn how to source and design meaningful images and graphics for teaching

Jerusha Ellis, Education Specialist & Medical Illustrator, MScBMC, CMI – jerusha.ellis@desouzainstitute.com

Jiahui Wong, Scientist & Manager, M.D., PhD – jiahui.wong@desouzainstitute.com

Research has long shown that “people learn better from words and pictures than from words alone” (Mayer, 2021), but the rapid shift to online learning has resulted in the proliferation of text-heavy educational materials that don’t reflect these best practices in how people learn. Research has demonstrated that students who learn from diagrams score better on retention and transfer tests vs. those who read a text passage alone. However, not all visuals are equal in teaching. Education research has also shown that poorly chosen graphics do not have a neutral effect on the student’s ability to learn and can actually depress learning (Clark & Mayer, 2016; Mayer, 2021). Adding visuals that are topically related but extraneous to the learning objective can depressed learning by distracting learner’s attention away from learning goals (Clark & Lyons, 2010).

In February 2022, we delivered a one-hour hands-on workshop at the Michener Institute’s Convergence 2022 Health Care Education Conference, which taught participants strategies for analyzing what content in their lessons can be communicated visually and for sourcing quality Creative Commons and Public Domain images. The workshop slides and handout are available for download below.

We’ve written a design guide to help you plan and select images and graphics that support your learning objectives and learn how to avoid images and graphics that disrupt and depress learning. We’ve also included a list of recommended Creative Commons and Public Domain image libraries for the health sciences to help you get started sourcing quality images for your eLearning modules and presentations.


Clark, R. C., & Lyons, C. (2010). Graphics for Learning: Proven Guidelines for Planning, Designing, and Evaluating Visuals in Training Materials: Wiley.

Clark, R. C., & Mayer, R. E. (2016). Applying the Multimedia Principle in e-Learning and the Science of Instruction: Proven Guidelines for Consumers and Designers of Multimedia Learning (4 ed., pp. 67-87): Wiley.

Mayer, Richard E. (2021) Multimedia Learning. 3rd ed. Cambridge University Press.