Digital Imagery and Informational Graphics in E-Learning: Maximizing Visual Technologies

Digital Imagery and Informational Graphics in E-Learning: Maximizing Visual Technologies

Shalin Hai-Jew (Kansas State University, USA)
Indexed In: SCOPUS
Release Date: November, 2009|Copyright: © 2010 |Pages: 348
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-60566-972-4
ISBN13: 9781605669724|ISBN10: 1605669725|EISBN13: 9781605669731|ISBN13 Softcover: 9781616924249
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Description & Coverage

E-learning has evolved with numerous IT-enabled affordances, including many that involve digital imagery and informational graphics. Not only are traditional images like drawings, blueprints, and photos widely used in e-learning, but also many new graphics have become useful learning aids.

Digital Imagery and Informational Graphics in E-Learning: Maximizing Visual Technologies offers useful methods for creating digital imagery as well as leading pedagogical theories and research on the implementation of inherited images. This advanced publication features applied, hands-on strategies related to capturing and authoring tools used to acquire and create graphics.


The many academic areas covered in this publication include, but are not limited to:

  • Authoring tools for graphics
  • Capturing tools for graphics
  • Collaborative image creation
  • Ethics and digital imagery
  • Future of digital imagery
  • Graphical literacy
  • Imagery in e-learning
  • Informational graphics
  • Instructional Design
  • Pedagogical theories in imagery
  • Visualization imagery
Reviews and Testimonials

Digital Imagery and Informational Graphics in E-Learning: Maximizing Visual Technologies provides a primer approach to the complex issues of digital imagery use in e-learning with a practical and applied approach.

– Shalin Hai-Jew, Kansas State University, USA

Because faculty and staff work in a do-it-yourself environment, [the] emphasis is on practical methods for acquiring and creating digital imagery for online learning, with an overview of related pedagogical theories, visual literacy, and instructional design. Chapters cover types and practical applications of graphics in online learning, then explore capturing and authoring tools for graphics, the creation of game and simulation spaces, collaborative image creation, and storage and access issues.

– Sci Tech Book News,
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Editor Biographies
Shalin Hai-Jew works as an instructional designer at Kansas State University (K-State) and taught for WashingtonOnline for a number of years through 2014. She has taught at the university and college levels for many years (including four years in the People’s Republic of China) and was tenured at Shoreline Community College but left tenure to pursue instructional design work. She has Bachelor’s degrees in English and psychology, a Master’s degree in Creative Writing from the University of Washington (Hugh Paradise Scholar), and an Ed.D in Educational Leadership with a focus on public administration from Seattle University (where she was a Morford Scholar). She reviews for several publications and publishers, and is editor of several IGI Global titles. Dr. Hai-Jew was born in Huntsville, Alabama, in the U.S.
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The idea for Digital Imagery and Informational Graphics in E-Learning: Maximizing Visual Technologies originated with my work as an instructional designer. On a daily basis, I work with faculty members striving to create online learning experiences. These professors hail from a range of fields. While they bring intense expertise to their own respective areas of expertise, many also bring with them traditions in higher education. It is said that higher education is often a verbal environment—both oral and textual, and it’s less visual. This tendency has carried over to e-learning. Yet, the contemporary installed-base generations of learners were raised on multimedia, digital immersiveness, and high-tech. These are people who are wired in through sophisticated wifi mobile communications devices. Visual thinking has become second nature for many; textual readings have receded in popularity. Digital imagery is a nexus for information, aesthetics, technology, and pedagogical design; it is ubiquitous. Its language may not be so clear to those teaching via e-learning. Words may be imagistic in a semantic way, but digital imagery embodies and communicates visual concepts direct.

Recent pedagogical research includes rich findings about the human mind and visual cognition and learning—in relation to multimedia. Cognitive research has surfaced deep insights about how people perceive and use visual imagery. This research combined with pedagogical research enables visuals to more effectively introduce concepts, combine complex data streams into coherent information, and convey mental models and simulations. In situations of real-time decision-making which integrate large flows of information, dynamic digital visuals far surpass traditional images in capturing and conveying information and meaning.

E-learning deploys designed imagery for content, display, organization, interaction, branding and navigation. Imagery allows for multiple ways of conveying information, telling a story. There are ways to create learning that has stronger retention. Informational visualization strengthens information extraction through “visual data mining” and exploratory data analysis. Images can be highly nuanced, information-full, and culturally bound.

The educational technologies enabling e-learning have made it much simpler to integrate visuals and digital graphics into the learning flow. Using these technologies appropriately will involve a larger awareness of the image context for learning and also the techniques behind the uses of such technologies. While many superb graphic artists design various visuals, many non-experts have long had their hand in creating effective visuals for learning, regardless of their métier. “Those who discover an explanation are often those who construct its representation,” observes Edward R. Tufte in Visual Explanations: Images and Quantities, Evidence and Narrative.

At the same time, the technologists in the field have enabled sophistication in creating and deploying digital imagery, which may be singular-dimensional all the way to 3D and 4D. Higher Net bandwidth has made delivered ever more complex imagery. Authoring tools enable technologists and designers to actualize images for electronic and Web delivery. These artifacts are more expressive and more usable. Hardware and software advancements enable the capture, editing and publishing of rich-sensory visual data.

Digital imagery rarely exists independent of multimedia—with integrated sound and text. In higher education, it is usually integrated into an overall e-learning path. That said, there are still benefits in analyzing digital imagery as one part of the e-learning experience and as a separate facet of build and design. Educators and trainers would do well to know about these changes in order to enhance their teaching and learning work.


Digital Imagery and Informational Graphics in E-Learning consists of 14 chapters. The early chapters lay the groundwork for an exploration of digital imagery in e-learning. Section 1 “Laying the Groundwork for Digital Imagery” consists of two chapters. “Chapter 1: Pedagogical Theories and Research re: Imagery in E-Learning” explores some of the educational theories that affect the use of digital visuals in e-learning. “Chapter 2: Visual Literacy in E-Learning Instructional Design” engages concepts of visual literacy in this Digital Age, in order to help viewers understand visual information and intended (and unintended) effects. This chapter also shows the importance of accessibility in visual literacy.

The next section “Digital Graphics in E-Learning” examines the practical application of graphics in online learning with the following chapters: “Chapter 3: The Applied Role of Graphics in E-Learning,” and “Chapter 4: Types of Graphics in E-Learning”. Chapter 3 deals with how graphics are currently used in e-learning. Chapter 4 introduces the wide range of digital graphics types.

The heart of this text involves the section: “Designing Graphics for E-Learning”. Within this are chapters that address visual design. “Chapter 5: Information and Visualization Imagery” addresses the way information and imagery are created, including those with live data streams and sophisticated user builds. “Chapter 6: Capturing and Authoring Tools for Graphics in E-Learning” highlights the functions that authoring tools enable for image captures and manipulations. “Chapter 7: Procedures for Creating Quality Imagery for E-Learning” defines quality in digital imagery in pedagogical contexts and then offers practical ways to achieve this. “Chapter 8: Building Interactive and Immersive Imagery” focuses on the creation of discovery learning, game and simulation spaces through digital imagery design. “Chapter 9: Collaborative Image Creation” describes the work of both co-located and virtual teams in creating educational images through collaborations. “Chapter 10: Effectively Integrating Graphics into E-Learning” examines strategies for integrating images—whether self-generated or inherited—into various learning situations for learning efficacy. “Chapter 11: The Storage and Access of E-Learning Visuals” looks at the repositories and digital libraries of graphical images and multimedia resources. This chapter explores the ways these storehouses are populated with contents, how they are catalogued, searched, retrieved and deployed.

The next section is “Guiding Values in Digital Imagery” and consists of two chapters. “Chapter 12: Designing Informational Graphics for a Global, Multi-Cultural Context” takes a globalist view of imagery and the nuanced meanings that may be extrapolated from various images and dynamic visual interactions. “Chapter 13: Applied Ethics for Digital Imagery” provides a rich overview of ethical concerns and issues in the creation and deployment of digital imagery. This chapter offers some practical approaches to handling various ethical concerns.

The last section, “Looking Ahead to a Shimmering Digital Future,” projects the changes in technologies and pedagogical approaches for the uses of digital imagery in e-learning. “Chapter 14: Future Digital Imagery” will coalesce the current research and practices in the educational and training uses of digital imagery and focus on the near-term future.


The readers of this work may be faculty and staff supporting e-learning. Technologists and instructional designers may find the text helpful, in their anticipation of the functionalities that are in research and development currently and also in maximizing existing digital imagery authoring tools and resources. Graduate students may also find this text informative for their work and studies. Knowing how to engage the e-learning technologies may enhance the creation of teaching and learning experiences online.


This text is presented as a part-handbook part-survey text, within the framework of building contents for higher educational e-learning. This was written in a general way so as to bridge many knowledge domains. The emphasis has been on practical approaches to enhance online learning and training, with the pedagogical theories as a backdrop. An assumption is that faculty and staff (technologists and instructional designers, in particular) work in a do-it-yourself (DIY) sphere as a daily reality.

There are other texts that engage issues of multimedia design theories, specific applications of digital mediums for education, how-to books on various capturing devices and authoring tools, and theoretical works on e-learning, this book will not pursue these various lines of inquiry to the utmost. Rather, this will provide a primer approach to the complex issues of digital imagery use in e-learning with a practical and applied approach.

Purposive design effects are preferable to accidental ones, and this knowledge may empower educational practitioners. It is hoped that this text will help start more widespread academic discussions and experimentation in this area. While discussions in this area and field can get fairly complex fairly quickly, the focus here was to keep the discussions simple and applicable albeit without misrepresenting the larger complexities. A special effort was made to avoid citing software products and entities by name. Also, unique terminology from special domain fields relating to digital visuals was avoided, and a conscious effort was made to use the most widely used terminology in the most understandable way. That was in part due to the fast-changing resources in this field. Another reason is to protect the text’s longevity.

Many websites could be cited as exemplars for this text. However, with the widespread flux of sites and ever-changing technologies, readers would be better served with a more solid information foundation and the encouragement to seek resources that have relevance to their particular interests and work. The affordances of the Internet and World Wide Web (WWW) are growing exponentially, and I trust that users will have the savvy to explore their interests and fulfill their digital graphics needs.

Another related caveat refers to the digital imagery in this text. The images here are necessarily 2D and 3D delivered via a 2D black-and-white paper surface, given the limited affordances of a book. Intellectual property constraints also limited the showing of various imageries to those available by copyright release or in the public domain. I bring up these limits to encourage readers to go online to experience the digital imageries described in this text.

It is hoped that this text will be helpful to users who work in a complex and dynamic instructional design and digital e-learning environment. Suffice it to say that one doesn’t know what one doesn’t know about a topic at the beginning of writing a book, and now, a year later, I am a little better informed. However, it would be incautious to suggest that is anything more than an opening salvo in this field.

    Shalin Hai-Jew, Kansas State University, USA