The limits of visual working memory and how we apply it in learning design

We all know that our ability to keep multiple things in our mind is limited. Four things is a common benchmark, and the article “When four is not four, but rather two plus twosuggests it might actually be two on each side of our brain.  

And yet we see so many learning experiences ignoring this reality – cramming in far more than learners can cope with. Here are two strategies to help ensure you don’t overload your learners: 

  1. Break your information down into simple, easy-to-parse chunks. 
  1. Use clearly signaled information hierarchies to relate the chunks to each other. 

For example, using a whiteboard video that gradually builds up into an infographic can help learners see how each new piece of information relates to the whole. For the APEC Conference in 2021, we created a video showing how all the teams worked together to make the conference a fantastic experience for all the delegates. 

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