cognitive coloruing for eLearning

Cognitive Colouring for eLearning

One of the main advantages that eLearning has over traditional learning is its use of colour to enhance content.

When designing courses, eLearning developers use particular colours or colour combinations for different physiological and psychological effects. Studies have shown that the cerebral cortex responds to certain colours and visual cues in distinctively differently ways when learning. So how exactly can a colour enhance an individual’s learning experience?

 Colour Stimulates Mind

When using warm colours, content that is deemed dry or less engaging becomes stimulating, putting the learner in a state of alertness.

When red and orange are aligned to certain information for example, learners are more inclined to maintain interest and focus instead of the traditional classroom colours of black and white, which puts learners into a passive state.

eLearning developers also use certain colour pallets to add additional meaning to content. For instance, we often associate the colors of red, green and orange with traffic lights. Red can be used to highlight danger or an incorrect answer while use of green could be used to symbolise progress or growth.

 Colour Increases Memory Retention

In a study by Farely and Grant, results illustrated that the use of colour increases memory performance. Memory in particular is connected to active cognitive activity, with colour being the strongest stimulant for the brain.

For example, when information is connected to the colour yellow, a conscious signal is sent to the mind telling the learner that the content is of importance and must be remembered.

 Could Can Alter Moods

Did you know seeing certain colours can evoke different emotions? No, we’re not talking about mood rings here. eLearning developers often use colour to induce specific moods. For example soft colours such as blue, green and light brown can invoke feelings of relaxation and positivity.

If too many soft colours are used throughout an online course, learners can become bored and disinterested. But if too many stimulating colours are used, learners can feel anxious and fatigued. eLearning developers and designers take this into consideration when strategically using each colour.

 Colour Can Hold Focus

The use of colour can also direct a learner’s attention to a particular feature or increase the emphasis on certain content. Again, using the colour of red is most effective in this instance as it makes content stand out.

By using colours effectively, participants can engage with a kind of learning that keeps them engaged and focused, ultimately breaking the limitations of the traditional classroom. Therefore, colour is a HUGE consideration when designing and developing online courses!

– Farley FH, Grant AP. Arousal and cognition: Memory for colour versus black and white multimedia presentation. J Psychol. 1976;94(1):147–150.