Icons impact on the world of education

The passing of knowledge is a fundamental part of life. We depend on it to keep the world flowing in the right direction, and as time moves on, we are becoming increasingly more advanced with even more things to learn. With that in mind, educational material is in high demand, from high school to college to higher education and beyond. So what does graphic design have to do with this? In this article, we are going to unravel the fundamental necessities of icons design and its functional role in education, and so without further ado, let’s educate you!

As we all should know by now, education is all about communication. Your favorite teacher, back in school, was most likely one whose tone and delivery were right on cue. This delivery we talk about is how information sticks and becomes a strong memory, thus helping students learn the most boring of subjects. This valuable communicative force is essential to educational material because when a charismatic teacher or professor is absent, we have to depend on visual language alone.

Why are icons used in education?

Icons are a great way to break up the monotony of text and give visual appeal to educational materials

Icons are a great way to break up the monotony of text and give visual appeal to educational materials. Icons also can be used to provide a quick summary or overview of complex topics that may take longer to explain with words. Studies have found that icons can help make boring information more interesting and can aid in making difficult concepts easier to understand. More importantly, icons are often associated with simple, universally understood symbols that are easy for learners to recognize, even if English isn’t their first language. Icons can generally be inserted into any learning material without extensive time or resources, making them a useful tool for educators trying to convey clear messages fast.

In any case, it’s crucial you pick or design the right kind of icons for your educational projects. After all, who wants to look at a boring set of poorly designed icons? Not only must you select the perfect image for each icon, but it should also match the overall look and feel of your composition. Plus, if you keep them consistent throughout your product or platform, research shows that users are more likely to recognize and retain those images. With careful selection and thoughtful placement, you’ll ensure that users immediately understand what each icon stands for without any extra explanation from you.

The theoretical basis for using icons

The use of icons in educational materials is based on a variety of theoretical foundations. In this section, we will explore some of the key theoretical frameworks that support the use of icons in education.

  1. Dual-Coding Theory: Dual-coding theory suggests that memory is enhanced when information is presented in both visual and verbal forms. Icons can be used to create visual representations of abstract concepts, making them easier to understand and remember.
  2. Gestalt Theory: Gestalt theory suggests that the mind perceives information as a whole, rather than as individual parts. Icons can be used to create a holistic representation of a concept, which can aid in comprehension and memory.
  3. Cognitive Load Theory: Cognitive load theory suggests that learning is most effective when information is presented in a way that minimizes cognitive load. Icons can be used to represent information in a compact, visually appealing manner, reducing the cognitive load required for comprehension.
  4. Constructivism: Constructivism is a learning theory that emphasizes the importance of active learning and the creation of personal meaning. Icons can be used to help students construct their own understanding of concepts by providing a visual reference point.
  5. Semiotics: Semiotics is the study of signs and symbols and how they are used to communicate meaning. Icons can be considered a type of symbol, which can be used to communicate complex ideas in a simple, visual form.

Overall, the use of icons in educational materials is supported by a range of theoretical frameworks. These frameworks provide a basis for understanding how icons can be used to enhance student learning outcomes. By incorporating icons into educational materials, educators can leverage these theories to improve student engagement, motivation, and comprehension.

Balancing out the dual-code theory

Icons have long been accustomed to aiding text in educational material, from books to presentations and beyond. Used judiciously, images of symbols or drawings can offer intuitive shortcuts for understanding a concept quickly and easily. However, if used too frequently or without the proper context, icons can actually lead to confusion as students make assumptions about what an image is conveying. For this reason, when using icons to supplement text in educational material it’s important to take a judicious approach, presenting one or two iconic images that clearly explain the topic at hand without being overly complex or abstract. Icons should always be supported with context-setting written explanations too. This will go a long way towards ensuring comprehensive understanding of the intended meaning. Additionally, introducing more than one icon for the same concept may create ambiguity and ought to be avoided whenever possible.


The efficiency of icons in explaining difficult situations makes them a common sight in educational material

One step further is the use of infographics. They act as an in-between solution tying information with visual graphics, often using icons. So it’s hard to not bring this up! Their sheer efficiency at explaining difficult situations makes them a common sight in educational material and can also look aesthetically pleasing, perhaps providing a break from reading paragraphs of text.

Educating through online platforms

Icons play a vital role in creating engaging, highly interactive learning experiences that make learning more fun than ever

Online learning has grown exponentially over the years, almost becoming a new norm for students of all ages. This can be down to a number of reasons. The covid outbreak, the slow decline of teachers, and the development of AI. As more and more of us choose to learn from home, the demand for such services is on the increase, meaning designers are getting knee-deep in creating stunning, engaging educational content to meet the needs of the next generation. This doesn’t mean to say textbooks don’t exist anymore. Of course, there are still a huge majority of students learning in real-life classrooms. However, even teachers are relying more on teaching platforms and apps to help deliver the best possible learning experience for their students.

This is where icons play an even more important role in educational content through the use of apps, websites, and fancy presentation platforms. From virtual examinations using multi-choice questions to role-play scenarios, icons play a vital role in creating engaging, highly interactive learning experiences that make learning more fun than ever. Perhaps you can even go one step further, using animated icons.

Icons help simplify complex concepts while also increasing engagement by providing visual cues that readers can relate back to after seeing them only once or twice throughout the course material. As a web designer or app developer, consider incorporating relevant icons into your educational materials in order to create engaging content that will both educate and entertain your audience!