UM3D Instructional Media DIY Guide: Best Practices

Integrating Printed Text and Visuals Effectively

You can use printed text and visuals simultaneously to create effective instruction. Printed text includes any form of written text, including text documents, articles, essays, and traditional “bullet-point” slide shows. Visuals include things such as photographs, illustrations, diagrams, charts, video clips, maps, and animations.

There are many instructional benefits to integrating printed text and visuals. You can use visuals to:

  • Represent prerequisite information,
  • Help students make connections with existing knowledge,
  • Organize information for students,
  • Reinforce key concepts,
  • Represent a concept,
  • Show a relationship between two or more concepts,
  • Depict changes, or
  • Add visual interest.

The chart below outlines definitions and examples for the correct way to integrate graphics with text to support learning.

Type of Graphic Definition Example
Decorative Visuals added to make the printed text more appealing Picture of a life cycle in a lesson about life cycles
Representational Visuals that depict the appearance of an object Picture of materials needed in the day’s lesson
Organizational Visuals that depict the qualitative relationship among the content Charts or graphs
Relational Visuals that show or summarize relationships A bar graph
Transformational Visuals that show changes over the course of time A photograph that shows the incomplete metamorphosis
Interpretive Visuals that depict specific messages Photographs that model the proper way to clean a room

Possible Uses of Visuals Within Instruction

Facts: concrete examples, data, application screens

Example: Picture of a life cycle with labels

Concepts: events, ideas, symbols

Example: Tree diagram of different facets of a subject

Process: instructions to show how something works

Example: Animations that show how water exits the faucet

Procedure: steps to be used to complete a task

Example: Animations that show how to adjust settings on a microscope

Principle: guidelines that result in completion of a task

Example: A video that shows two possible solutions to one problem


Clark, R. & Mayer, R. (2011). Elearning and the science of instruction: Proven guidelines for consumers and designers of multimedia learning. Pfeiffer Wiley Imprint.

Pappas, C. (2014, December 15). Audio in elearning: Top ten tips for the elearning professional.

Best Practices When Using Podcasts

Within education, podcasts can be used for several purposes.

For Educators:

  • Podcasts are excellent alternatives for delivering content or lessons to students who need additional support.
  • Teachers can record audio podcasts to help students review content at a time that fits their schedule best.
  • Podcasts can support students who prefer learning by listening.

For Students:

  • Students can create their own podcasts to share their learning experiences with each other.
  • The act of creating podcasts encourages students to develop several important skills, such as researching, writing, speaking effectively, solving problems, managing time, grabbing attention, and improving vocabulary.

Download this outline of best practices when using podcasting (PDF).

Podcasting Best Practice Resources

Best Practices When Creating and Using Sceencasts

Just like with podcasts, screencasts can be used in education by instructors and students alike to make an impact on student engagement and learning. When creating screencasts, it is a good idea to plan ahead.

Pre-production tips:

  • Choose visuals wisely.
  • Consider writing out a script or set of talking points before you record.
  • Plan to describe any essential visual elements carefully so that blind students can learn from the action you explain.
  • Turn off all non-essential programs that you don’t want to show up in your video. In particular, be sure to turn off email and instant chat tools.
  • Set your phone on silent and hang a “Please Do Not Disturb” sign on your door if unexpected visitors might drop by.
  • Plug in and test your microphone or headset.

Post-production tips:

  • Embed your video directly into your course, blog, or website so that it plays within the screen and keeps unwanted ads from popping up.
  • If your video is on YouTube or another hosting site, make sure the settings NOT set to private so that students can view it.
  • Test your video playback to ensure it plays on multiple devices.
  • Always provide accurate closed-captioning. Watch the video with captions turned on, and make note of any words or phrases that need to be corrected.

UM3D Presents at OLC Accelerate 2017

Orlando, Florida

November 15-17, 2017

Theme: Accelerating Online Learning Worldwide

OLC Accelerate is an international conference devoted to driving quality online learning, advancing best practice guidance and accelerating innovation in learning for academic leaders, educators, administrators, online learning professionals and organizations around the world. The conference hosts outstanding keynote speakers, expanded programs, and engaging workshops. Attendees are given an opportunity to interact with experts in new and emerging eLearning technologies and topics, reinforcing why online educators worldwide affirm that OLC Accelerate is the premiere conference for online learning professionals. Our team presented the following presentations:

Are Your Students Ready To Learn Online? Strategies For Facilitating Online Learning Readiness At Your Institution

This workshop shares best practices and tools for developing an online readiness assessment tool. Facilitators from the University of Memphis will share strategies for curating resources and will discuss assessments that may be used to determine how to best prepare students to learn online. Participants will take the role of instructional designer to analyze and develop an assessment module.

Reaching All Learners Through Universal Design For Learning (UDL)

In this session, we will discuss how our campus has implemented professional development solutions to: (a) distribute knowledge about instructional accessibility, (b) increase faculty engagement in discussions about Universal Design for Learning (UDL), and (c) facilitate online course design congruent with the UDL principles of engagement, representation, and expression.

Online Student Success Initiative (OSSI): Increasing Student Success And Engagement Through Embedded Online Services

In this session, we will discuss how the University of Memphis has has addressed the enhancement of student course success, program retention, and timely graduation rates through our Online Student Success Initiative (OSSI). Results will also be discussed including faculty and student evaluations and the impact of OSSI on student success.

Mapping The Online Student Experience: Strategies For Managing The Online Student Lifecycle From Lead Generation To Graduation

This workshop shares best practices and tools for developing a comprehensive support plan for fully online students. Facilitators will share strategies for supporting prospective and current online students. Participants will receive tips for managing online student success from lead generation to graduation.

Enhancing Online Program Quality Assurance

Participants will identify an action plan to enhance the quality assurance (QA) of their own institutional online programs via a SWOT analysis rubric. In the process, they will acquire the skill of adapting to their own campus a three-phase online program lifecycle, centered on program selection, implementation, and evaluation.


UM3D Ignite Session “Blended Learning: The Basics”

Join the UM3d: Instructional Impact team, today at 12:00pm in the University Center’s Fountain View Suite (UC 350), as we discuss strategies for implementing eCourseware and online tools in the face-to-face classroom environment.



For listings of current and future UM3D: Instructional Impact sessions, visit