Using Visuals to Reduce Complexity

Our partners sometimes have complex ideas they need help breaking down into a format that students can easily grasp, and Wiley collaborates to develop the right visual framework that makes these concepts accessible for participants.


When developing an operations course within an MBA program for Vlerick, Wiley used source materials about theoretical flow time (TFT) and created an animation with a knowledge check. This narrative provided a familiar, real-life example that students could easily recognize. Most people don’t think in formulas — but everybody can visualize a pizza restaurant.



The Pizza Pazza example illustrates how long it takes to make a pizza when there are bottlenecks in a system. While it only takes 30 minutes to make a single pizza, if there are four pizzas in the system, it now takes 71 minutes to make that pizza! Students are first shown this visual via a bird’s-eye view of the prep and cook area of Pizza Pazza, a hypothetical restaurant, with each step of the process of filling a pizza order labeled and timed. The narration provides introductory information and terms that comprise a process flow chart, and students are asked a follow-up question that allows them to ground themselves inside the example and become part of the action.


The Pizza Pazza visual returns in an animation after students have delved deeper into the content. Students watch a detailed rendering of how to calculate TFT in the prep-and-cook area of the restaurant, with the terms and formulas they were shown just prior to this animation brought to life in a simple, clean style as the pizzas are prepared, cooked, and packed. The visual itself mimics a flow chart, and the narration includes music to maintain a sense of continuity when there is no narration. As the scenario plays out, relevant sections of the flow chart are highlighted, allowing students to easily follow along even as the content itself is a bit more complex. During the storyboarding process, Wiley worked with the partner to define the material in much greater detail, to ensure that the final message was clear and accurate. Students then answer a question that asks them to synthesize what they’ve learned. This knowledge check creates the opportunity for students to gauge their understanding of the fundamental concepts in a low-anxiety, risk-free way.


During the storyboarding process, Wiley worked with the partner to define the material in much greater detail, to ensure that the final message was clear and accurate.

Complex content calls for collaboration, iteration, and innovation. When universities choose a partner like Wiley, we can find a way in that feels accessible and effective.