5 Ways to Use Educational Comics to Enhance Training

Level Up and use educational comics! 

I know – using comics may seem like child’s play. Only children, or child-like adults, read comics. Or maybe you work for a company where culturally, leaders may be resistant to embrace comics in training materials. However, there is a growing body of research supporting the effectiveness of educational comics.

Addressing barriers against using educational comics requires raising awareness about their benefits. This may require providing leaders with resources, success stories and evidence-based research to demonstrate their effectiveness. By realizing resistance exists and heading it off at the pass, we can overcome the barriers and unlock the full potential of educational comics in training and development initiatives.

Benefits of using educational comics

Incorporating comics as a tool in training programs allows participants to connect concepts with visuals and possibly trigger or reframe past knowledge. But wait, there’s more! Not only are participants engaging in visual processing, but educational comics also activate higher levels of thinking: 

  • Comics often involve dialogue between characters, requiring readers to interpret and understand the implied meaning, tone, and context within the speech bubbles. This fosters critical thinking and inference skills, as participants must analyze the language used and make connections to the visual elements.
  • Comics frequently employ narrative structures, including plot development, character arcs, and storylines. Understanding and following these narrative elements would require participants to comprehend cause-and-effect relationships and character motivations.
  • Comics, when well thought out, incorporate visual symbolism, metaphors, and visual storytelling techniques. Decoding and interpreting these visual elements require your participants to engage in abstract thinking, making connections, and inferring meaning beyond the literal representation. 

Who knew so much could be accomplished with something as seemingly simple as a comic? 

The top five ways comics can revolutionize your training

1: Engaging Visual Medium.

Forget about boring resources and PowerPoint slides that put your students to sleep faster than a lecture on tax law. Comics are an instant fix to monotony. With their vibrant illustrations and dialogue bubbles, they grab attention and keep them hooked like a Netflix binge. 

Consider that comics can serve as a valuable outlet when combined with traditional learning materials like workbooks or reference materials, providing cognitive relief when discussing complex subject areas. 

We can think literally outside the training box to utilize comics as a means of expanding the overall learning experience. Besides incorporating them into the learning process itself, perhaps have the participants create comics that illustrate the concepts being taught as a way to debrief or reframe lessons.

2: Enhanced Comprehension.

How can we help people who might struggle to grasp complex concepts? Let educational comics swoop in to save the day! 

Educational comics can break down information into bite-sized chunks and present it in a visually appealing way. Suddenly, those dry facts become as clear as day, leading people to more “aha” moments. In fact, studies have shown that education featuring comics in lessons not only increases comprehension but also increases learner enjoyment of the course. 

An example used in the report, Connecting Through Comics: Expanding Opportunities for Teaching and Learning, is this, “For example, in the comic strips For Better or Worse (Johnson, 2004) (see Figure 2), Liz freaks out while studying and wishes that she can organize her mind, while surrounded by the reflective untidiness of her bedroom. The comic is used in the course as a humorous example of information processing and meta-cognitive approaches. The resulting discussion connected information processing, network and schema theories, Bruner’s constructivist theories, and concept mapping.”

3. Cultural Appreciation.

Comics have an incredible ability to represent diverse cultures and perspectives. By using comics from different countries or featuring diverse characters, you’ll not only promote inclusivity but also spark conversations about empathy, tolerance, and understanding.

Here are some ways in which educational comics can contribute to cultural appreciation:

  • Representation: Comics can depict characters, stories, and settings from different cultures, representing the diversity of the world. 
  • Cultural Context: Comics have the ability to present cultural contexts, traditions, and values in a visually rich and engaging manner. They can explore cultural practices, celebrations, historical events, or everyday life.
  • Breaking Stereotypes: Comics can challenge stereotypes and misconceptions by portraying characters and stories that defy common cultural stereotypes. By presenting nuanced and authentic representations, educational comics encourage readers to question assumptions and develop a more nuanced understanding of diverse cultures.
  • Language and Folklore: Educational comics can introduce readers to different languages, dialects, and folklore traditions. By incorporating phrases, idioms, or folktales from various cultures, comics can ignite interest in learning languages and exploring cultural heritage.
  • Global Issues and Perspectives: Educational comics can address global issues like social justice, human rights, and environmental challenges from diverse cultural perspectives. 

4: Creative Expression.

Education isn’t just about memorizing facts; it’s about unleashing those creative juices! Comics provide a canvas for you to channel your inner artist and storyteller. You can create your own characters, plotlines, and dialogue and bring relevance to the business in a completely different and unexpected way. 

Who knows, you might discover you’re the next Stan Lee or Neil Gaiman!

5: Emotional Engagement.

Let’s face it, in order for learning to connect, we not only have to connect with the learners intellectually – but emotionally. Comics aren’t usually the go-to modality for tugging the heartstrings but consider the typical hero journey. An emotional gut punch is typically what brings us in to read more. 

A good comic can combine powerful visuals with relatable narratives, evoking empathy and connecting people with characters and their experiences. Suddenly, your training becomes a rollercoaster ride of emotions, leaving a lasting impact on the learner. Think of what this can do for boring compliance training

To wrap this up!

Comics aren’t just ink on paper; they’re a game-changer for training in general. 

By harnessing the unique combination of visual storytelling, engaging narratives, and interactive learning, comics can provide a dynamic and innovative approach to how you can design workbooks, handouts, and reference materials, not to mention how you can level up your elearning designs. 

It’s time to unleash your inner creative spirit and give educational comics a chance. 

To learn more about using Education Comics in your training,

join the Learning Rebels Coffee Chat featuring Kevin Thorn.

Or to learn more about other Learning Rebels Events (and how you can receive ATD APTD/CPTD points)

Shannon Tipton

Shannon Tipton

As Owner of Learning Rebels, Shannon Tipton is a skilled learning strategist, content developer and International speaker. Shannon has over 20 years of leadership experience developing successful learning strategies and infrastructures for training departments within organizations in North America, Europe and Korea.

Shannon works with people and organizations to develop learning solutions that brings actual business results. Recognized as bringing real-world expertise into the learning field, Shannon integrates technologies and social learning tools to strengthen workplace alignment, enhance collaboration and increase learning connectivity.

As author of “Disruptive Learning” Shannon frequently speaking at conferences across North America and Europe and ranks as one of the top 100 L&D influencers on Twitter (@stipton).

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