What are Graphics?

Molloy (1995-96) defines graphics as a bitmapped (pixel [picture element]) representation of an image used to convey visual information. He states that there are many forms of graphics files such as clip art, digital art, line art, photographs, icons, bullets, backgrounds, and imagemaps as well as a graphic image can be single color (black/white); grayscale (shades of gray); or color (consists of 256 colors, thousands of colors, or millions of colors). Molloy (1995-96) suggests that photo quality images generally need at least 256 colors, but are much better with millions of colors. He notes that 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.

Clip Art from http://clipartspot.net/clipart-pics/back-to-school-clip-art-15.jpg
Clip Art from http://clipartspot.net/clipart-pics/back-to-school-clip-art-15.jpg

Clip Art:
The Tech Terms Computer Dictionary defines clip art as a collection of pictures or images that can be imported into a document or another program. is typically organized into categories, such as people, objects, nature, etc., which is especially helpful when browsing through thousands of images. It also states that most clip art images also have keywords associated with them. For example, a picture of a female teacher in a classroom may have the keywords "school," "teacher," "woman," "classroom," and "students" associated with it. Most clip art programs allow you to search for images based on these keywords.

Digital Art from http://www.photofurl.com/beautiful-graphics-wallpapers/3d-fantasy-digital-graphic-art-wallpaper

Digital Art:
WordIQ defines digital art as being art that is created on a computer in digital form. The site also states that the term is usually reserved for art that has been non-trivially modifed by the computer; text data and raw audio and video recordings are not usually considered digital art, in themselves but can be part of a larger project, since the computer is merely the storage medium or tool that is used to create the work.

Line Art from http://puremythcreations.com/blog/wp-content/uploads/2010/05/pegasuslineart.jpg

Line Art:
Davis (1999-2011) defines line art is a single color drawing generally made with a pen or pencil. He states that the drawing has no solid areas or shading other than cross-hatching as well as is usually black and white.

Photograph from http://images.oneofakindantiques.com/3566_photograph_Gaston_Chevrolet_Lewis_4.jpg

A photograph is an image produced by using a camera either digitally or by light-sensitive film. Nowadays, photographs are stored in the digital camera using an SD card, or similar, and then downloaded onto the desktop or in a specific folder. The photographs are then printed onto photo paper, copied onto a CD-rom, or uploaded to a social networking site.

Image Map from http://geology.com/satellite/california-satellite-image-m.jpg

Image Maps:
Whatis?com defines an image map as a graphic image defined so that a user can click on different areas of the image and be linked to different destinations. The site adds that image maps are used widely on many Web sites as a more adventuresome form of main menu. [For an example, click on the image map of California]

Background from http://www.dan-dare.org/freefun/Images/CartoonsMoviesTV/FindingNemoWallpaper1024.jpg

Goetz (2001) defines a desktop background (a.k.a wallpaper) as the background pattern or picture against which desktop menus, icons, and other elements are displayed and moved around. He also states that a background image can be in a JPEG or a GIF file format.

Icons from http://graphicskeeper.com/wp-content/uploads/2010/11/social-icons-vector-pack.jpg

The Tech Terms Computer Dictionary defines icons as a visual representation of something on your computer. For example, a blue "e" on your screen most likely repersents the Internet Explorer program. In the icons image example, the two icons most recognizable are Facebook and Twitter as they are broadcasted over every media that is out there.

Bullets from http://www.internet4classrooms.com/word_bullet_sample.gif

Webopedia defines a bullet as a small graphical element used to highlight or itemize a list. For instance, one can create a bulleted list using Word or PowerPoint by clicking on the bullets icon that looks like three vertical dots with a horizontal line next to each.

What Literature is Available?

Alessi and Trollip (2001) state that when graphics are properly used, they enhance learning; however, if improperly used, they can be detrimental. Therefore, the authors provide four primary uses of graphics during the primary part of the presentation of a program:
  1. As the primary information
  2. As analogies or mnemonics
  3. As organizers
  4. As cues

When choosing graphics for one's presentation, one should not choose excessively detailed or realistic graphics as they can overload memory and cause the learner to lose focus and become confused. Alessi and Trollip (2001) provide an example on how to avoid memory overload by breaking up complex illustrations into simpler ones. One can do this by producing part of a graphic, allow the learner to study or read about the pictorial image placed, followed by overlaying the remaining parts of the graphic as it gradually becomes more complex and detailed. Referring back to the definitions and images as an example, one should always present the text and image simultaneously so that the learner can read the text and study the image together. (Alessi et al, 2001, p.72)

If one wants to use graphics in questions, there are two main ways to do so:
  1. As the context or main content (i.e. The learner is showed a question in which a picture outlining a skeleton is the context of the question.)
  2. As a hint or prompt (i.e. The picture is used as a prompt when the learner reads the question and then looks at the picture to determine the answer. When the learner clicks the help button, a picture appears and the picture is then used as a hint to help a learner determine the answer that could not be solved by the prompt alone.)

There are many different programs one can use to create graphics such as Microsoft Word, PowerPoint, Publisher, or Paint; and Adobe Photoshop, Premiere, or Illustrator-to name a few. Looking at Microsoft Word 2007, Martin, Spalter, Friesen, and Gibson (2008) state that a Word document is not just about the content of the text: it includes that way text looks (which helps to convey the content) and the use of images to enhance the communication. Looking at Microsoft PowerPoint 2007, Martin et al. (2008) state that many presentations are not nearly as effective as they could be, in part because their creators do not fully appreciate the visual aspects of the medium. That said, here are a couple tutorials to help one create more meaningful documents and presentations to gain and keep learners' attention while conveying crucial content.

Video: How to Add Images to a Microsoft Word 2007 Document

Video: Creating Web Graphics Using PowerPoint 2007

Note: For more helpful tutorials on graphics, visit YouTube and search using the keywords "graphics" and "[insert name of any graphics program listed above]"

Helpful Links


Author: Kari Boeglin
Last Updated: 23 April 2011