I am going to start this post by admitting that I absolutely love infographics (information graphic)! I find them more engaging than paragraphs of text and I love seeing the information visually displayed in an aesthetic manner, I am somewhat of a visual learner and as the blog title suggests I am a bit of a geek! If you aren’t familiar with here is an explanatory image:
I believe that, likes memes and trending YouTube videos, infographics can be a great way of presenting information through a platform that students are familiar with. If you type in the word, “Infographic” into Google to see just how popular they have become (126,000,000 results at the time of publishing this).
What are they?
An infographic is a representation of information in an artistic format designed to make the data easily understandable at a glance. People use infographics to quickly communicate a message, to simplify the presentation of large amounts of data, to see data patterns and relationships, and to monitor changes in variables over time.
Infographics abound in almost any public environment — traffic signs, subway maps, tag clouds, word clouds and weather charts are just a few examples, among a huge number of possibilities. Further, Research shows that approximately 65% of us are visual dominant learners. According to research conducted by Sidneyeve Matrix (Queen’s University), and Jaigris Hodson, (Ryerson University), an infographic assignment inspires students to practice strong multimodal communication skills – without requiring you, the instructor to rehearse basic composition lessons. Furthermore, an infographic assignment serves as an experiential learning tool that can allow students to apply key competencies necessary for the digital skills class.
That being said Infographics aren’t exactly new, infographics predate writing as a means of disseminating information – cave drawings are probably the earliest known example. The process of creating infographics is sometimes referred to as data visualization. Further, traditional infographics include bar graphs, pie charts, histograms, line charts, tree diagrams, mind maps, Gantt charts, and network diagrams. As the amount of data being amassed in the enterprise and elsewhere increases, infographics are being used more and more frequently to help people understand the information contained in that data. But how can they be used? How can pupil’s benefit? How can they be used to improve outcomes?
In the most general sense, infographics can be a great tool to use in order to differentiate instruction in your classroom. By including textual information, diagrams and images they can effectively meet the needs of both linguistic and visual learners. Furthermore, the text that is included is often written at a simpler reading level than standard formal text on the same subject. As such, infographics can be an easy way to present information to students who are experiencing difficulties when it comes to literacy skills. Depending on the graphic, information is sometimes visually displayed in order to show connections between different topics which can assist students in making connections between the concepts.
Infographics can be a great activating tool to incorporate when introducing a new unit or a specific lesson. Most good quality infographics do a great job of answering an interesting question or summarising a specific topic. Either type of infographic could be used to activate student’s prior knowledge, stimulate interest and/or provide a framework for future learning.
Create an Infographic Project
There are several online tools that allow users to create their own infographics. These could be used by students to create their own infographics as summative projects. Infographics require the creator to summarise information, selecting the most important concepts. As such, they require students to fully comprehend the subject, apply their knowledge, classify it appropriately, create diagrams and evaluate what information is the most important in order to get their point across. Students won’t even realise they are hitting all the levels of Bloom’s Taxonomy! Instead of writing a traditional paper on the “The 100 Years War “or a non-chronological report on ‘dogs’, why not give students the option of creating an infographic on the same topic?
Appropriate Sourcing Example
Many infographics, however, provide no references or provide general links that do not go to the specific information like this one on. Infographics can be a good example to showcase the importance of appropriate sourcing to ensure that copyright is maintained and information can be easily accessed by the audience. Please note I attempted to search for pictures that filtered as ‘non-commercial reuse with modification’ but I was unsuccessful for the most part so instead I have credited the authors in the captions. This brings with it Copyright and Creative Commons implications.
Next Steps and How:
If you would like to learn more about infographics and the role that they can play in education there are several great resources out there that can help you out. Here are some that I’ve found useful:
- This LiveBinder features almost 200 pages about infographics including general information, infographic sources, infographics organized by subject and how to create original infographics.
- This LiveBinder was organized by Carolyn Starkey who has curated several different LiveBinders on library-related topics. http://www.livebinders.com/play/play/143539
If you are interested in finding various infographics to use with your students on a variety of topics, here are some good options to start your search:
- Pinterest Educational Infographics Search
- Pinterest is an incredibly popular bookmarking site and is used by many teachers around the world. A quick “Educational Infographics” search brought up thousands of individual pins as well as boards specifically devoted to infographics that can be used in the classroom. http://pinterest.com/search/boards/?q=educational+infographics
Infographics Archive: Education & Careers
– The Infographics Archive is an online library completely devoted to infographics that can be searched by category. The “Education & Careers” category features several pages of infographics that could be used in the classroom.
– It can take a while to search through all the pages within this category but there is also a general keyword search if you are looking for something specific. http://www.infographicsarchive.com/category/education-careers/
Jet Propulsion Laboratory
The Jet Propulsion Laboratory from the NASA website has put together a great collection of infographics on planets, parts of our solar system and different NASA projects like different missions and rovers. Users can also create their OWN infographics using different information and designs from the NASA website. http://www.jpl.nasa.gov/infographics/
Larry Ferlazzo’s “The Best Resources for Creating Infographics” List
This list features almost 100 links to resources and most feature multiple resources! http://larryferlazzo.edublogs.org/2011/01/11/the-best-resources-for-creating-infographics/
If you would like to make infographics yourself or have your students create them as a project, here are some online tools that can get you started:
Everyone loves infographics and easel.ly gives users the options to create their own! The drag and drop option is really easy to use but because it is still in beta-form and there are not a lot of provided options. Luckily, users have the option to upload their own images which allows for full customization. http://www.easel.ly/
Piktochart is a great way to visualize just about anything. You can drag and drop your way to visual success by using Piktochart’s themes and other ready-made tools. Piktochart lets anyone (even those without design skills) become a graphic designer in no time!
Want to spice up your next faculty or staff meeting? Gliffy lets you whip up flowcharts, floor plans, and pretty technical renderings with ease. It’s similar in some ways to Prezi but generates static images. Useful for presentations by both teachers and students.
Using silhouette images from google, children could create Infographics based on a topic. This could then be combined with some Wordart or text in a Textbox. In the coming weeks I’ll be adding a how-to blog post on creating these. For now I have included a link to a brilliant article by Saikat Basu which demonstrates how to create excellent Infographics: http://www.makeuseof.com/tag/longform-create-free-infographics-powerpoint/ Also here is a SlideShare from a teacher, Kimberly Gauthier, whom has tried to do something similar. http://www.slideshare.net/kimberlygauthier/creating-infographics-with-ms-power-point
You could try to make infographics in a practical rather than a digital way as one teacher did wither class:
To summarise, infographics are a part of modern society. Now statistics are ready at the touch of a button and so companies and people are looking for newer, more aesthetic ways of portraying information. As well as, traditional and 21st Century thinking skills your pupils may benefit from by using infographics in a business sense that could help them in their future. If you start using these approaches and you may see improved outcomes in your class. Integration of infographics inside a school is not a one-step process but as a teacher you can start with little steps.
Don’t forget to share your success with this as well as your thoughts in the comments below.
Adam Chase (@_geekyteacher)