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Graphics , derived from the Greek word Graphia, are visual presentations that combine text, illustration, and color. They can be hand designed, engraved, drawn or computer desgined.
Graphics are visual elements often used to guide readers and viewers to particular information, much like the signs in an airport, (Horton,1993). A growing number of people today are visually oriented, either by nature or by experience and there are few who do not benefit from graphics that accompany text, (Dickinson, 2001). They are also used to supplement the text information in an effort to assist readers in their understanding of a particular concept or make the concept more clear or interesting. The meanings of the terms graphics, visual, image and picture greatly overlap in education. According to Alessi and Trollip (2001), there are many types of graphics and both the purpose and type of graphic should be considered, when designing or using them. Clarity or effective communication may be the objective, association with other cultural elements may be sought, or merely, the creation of a distinctive style. Basically, the most effective supporting graphics can quickly convey important information in a non-verbal manner, that their corresponding text descriptions cannot. It is extremely important that such graphics are appealling, easy to understand, and adequately labeled.(Lemieux 2010)
Examples of graphics include maps, photographs, designs and patterns, drawings, line art, graphs, bar and pie charts, diagrams, flowcharts, typography, numbers, symbols, geometric designs, engineering drawings, and illustrations.

There are a number of different types of graphics. Alessi and Trollip (2001) refer to graphic information as ranging from simple to complex in interactive multimedia. These include simple line drawings, schematics, artistic drawings, diagrams. photographs, three-dimensional images and animated images. Choosing an appropriate type of graphic is important for conveying information that is clear and not confusing or distracting to the learner.
A graphics file is a bitmapped pixel (picture element) representation of an image used to convey visual information. A graphic image can be:

· Single color (black/white) often referred to as line art.
· Grayscale (shades of gray)
· Color, usually 256 colors, thousands of colors, or millions of colors.
Most graphics software programs use their own default file format, but there are several standard graphics file formats, too. The most common of these are JPEG, GIF, TIFF, and PNG.
Photo quality images generally need at least 256 colors, but are much better with millions of colors. (Photographic images on the web will look best if you're computer is set up to use more than 256 colors). The more colors or shades of gray, the larger the file size. File size is important because the file must be transferred across the Internet from the web site to your web browser, usually via modem.(Milley,1996)
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This 16.7 million color JPG version (high quality) is 76KB

external image cycle2.jpg This 16.7 million color JPG version (low quality) is 56KB.
There are several different ways to create graphics files. Some of these are:

  • create them from scratch using image-editing applications
  • open already existing graphic files (i.e. clip art, CDs, stock photos)
  • have a program write a graphic file
  • digitize an image by using a scanner or image capture device

Most software packages such as Adobe Photoshop, Graphic Workshop, and NIH Image allow for the manipulation of images. For example, you can change the image size, change colors, and even flip and rotate images. Some packages allow for cut and paste. By zooming into the image, you can change it pixel by pixel (i.e. dot by dot) for realistic results. A static graphic is a graphic that is permanently fixed after it is displayed. You can view a static graphic but you cannot manipulate it as you view it in a browser. Examples of static graphics include GIF and PNG images.

GRAPHICS in Education external image spacer.gifexternal image PAA140000005.jpg
One of the simplest use of graphics in the classroom is to illustrate concepts, similar to pictures in a book. According to an article by Levie and Lentz (1992), graphics used in education have four basic functions :

· Attentional - pictures or graphics attract attention to the material or direct attention within the material - hopefully using graphics in this way will heighten the likelihood that a user will remember the material.
· Affective - pictures enhance enjoyment or affect emotions and attitudes
· Cognitive - the cognitive use of graphics involves using pictures to increase comprehension (for example, providing elaboration for a text explanation), to improve recollection and retention, or to provide information that is not otherwise available
· Compensatory - the compensatory use of pictures involves helping poor readers by adding pictorial clues to decode a story that uses graphics to illustrate the main events of the story
Graphics can facilitate learning by making abstract ideas more understandable and concrete, (Dickinson, 2001). For the learner, still and moving images are symbolic representations that usually require little or no interpretation and have high information densities. Additionally, the human visual system has evolved to be highly efficient at gathering and processing information and graphics taps into this system for more effective learning. Using graphics break up texts and give the eye something to rest upon before the learner continues reading the text, (Levie & Lentz, 1992). Teachers use graphics in many formats for English language learners and struggling readers to understand and visualize concepts.Graphics help them with comprehension because the understanding provided by the graphics, assists in translating the text, (Horton,1993). In general, graphics can be incorporated into the classroom from the internet, books and CDs for multiple activities. However, according to Alessi and Trollip (2001), it is important to be sure that the graphics do not distract the learners’ attention from important information and should “illustrate points incidental to the learning objectives”. They describe four primary uses of graphics in presentations: as the primary source of information, as analogies or mnemonics, as organizers, and as cues.

GRAPHICS in the Classroom

Although a page can benefit from a few graphics, adding too many images of varying sies and colors can really cause problems for the readers. The size and complexity of the graphics is also an important factor, when considering the number of images to use per page. Your students could be given the opportunity and practice, incorporating graphics obtained from the Internet into written reports. Word processors and desktop publishers both have the capacity to embed graphics in a text document. However, in many schools the standard written reports are being replaced by multimedia presentations utilizing software packages such as Linkway, Hyperstudio, and the Web itself. (Allessi and Trollip, 2001). Presentations such as Powerpoint, incorporate graphics that can stimulate the learners' interest and bring attention to specific information. Graphics are one resource for these types of presentations. Part of choosing the right graphic is knowing what role the image will play in the instructional information. The process of learning in the classroom can become significantly richer as students have access to new and different types of information, and can manipulate it on the computer through graphic displays.

Alessi, S. M., & Trollip, S. R. (2001). Multimedia for learning . Needham Heights: Allyn & Bacon.
Dickinson, D. (2001). Graphics and Learning. New Horizons for Learning-Quarterly Journal.
Horton, W. (1993). The almost universal language: Graphics for international documents. Technical Communication, 40(4),
Lemieux, A. (2010). 10 Tips for using graphics in e-learning. Syberworks
Levie, W.H. & Lentz, R. (1992). Effects of text illustrations: A review of research. Educational Communications and
Technology Journal, 30 (4), 195-232

Milley, M. (1996). Images on the World Wide Web. Mountain Data Systems.

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Terese Krueger