If I had to sum it up in a single sentence, I’d say: because the learning process isn’t limited to cognitive aspects, it also involves emotional components that are decisive for acquiring new knowledge.
Okay, but what does aesthetics have to do with that, you may be wondering. And my answer would be: everything. Aesthetic elements like design, colors, fonts and images stimulate our senses in multiple ways, activating the “feeling” realm that is essential for faster, more effective learning.
In this way, we can use aesthetics to evoke the so-called “positive emotions” that are essential for any pedagogical or andragogical process. Not surprisingly, many of the main learning barriers instructors encounter with work teams are rooted in emotional rather than intellectual issues.
So how can we make aesthetics work in our favor when delivering corporate training? How can we evoke positive emotions that support people’s development?
In my opinion, by adopting a learning model that incorporates cognitive and emotional factors in a balanced way, you’re taking a step in the right direction. Moreover, the use of visual resources (according to an aesthetic code that’s appropriate for the objective) helps break down these learning barriers, increasing receptivity and absorption of the message we’re trying to get across. It’s what I call the “Sesame Street” or “Baby Shark” effect. Colors, movements, illustrations and sounds are carefully chosen and produced in a way that engages children for hours and hours on a tablet, cell phone or computer screen.
In practice, dedicating attention to the aesthetic elements of a corporate learning program generates many indirect benefits, such as increased perception of value (people make snap judgments based on sensory information, and are instantly attracted to aesthetically pleasing objects while rejecting those that are unattractive) as well as emotional-level gains (when people experience positive emotions, this can stimulate intrinsic motivation or the desire to learn without an external reward).
In addition, well-designed materials that are both functional and aesthetically pleasing help avoid negative emotions (frustration due to difficulty navigating and using the platform, for example), creating a user experience that is more fluid, organic and intuitive. All of this to facilitate learning.
As you can see, talking about aesthetics in learning processes isn’t about making arbitrary value judgments (beautiful or ugly), but about creating trainings that are more effective and connect with people on an intellectual as well as an emotional level. Because it’s on these two levels that learning takes place.