The Deal with Infographics

I must admit that I find the field of infographics fascinating.  In my Zite reader, I’m excited when one of them makes any of the categories that I follow and, to be sure that I get a daily fix, I have the category “infographics” selected.

What impresses me about the whole infographics concept is that one that is well crafted can convey so much information in one document.  Those of us who do presentations regularly will use pie charts or bar charts to identify data or elements of the data.  However, the conventional wisdom has always been to keep one piece of data analysis on a slide to make it readable.

Infographics take that conventional wisdom for a walk by the river and shoves it in.  In fact, infographics puts it all together in one place.  Unlike a pie chart where the experienced designer stands out by exploding a piece, infographics can share just a tonne of information all in one spot.  They’re not intended to be glanced at and moved on.  They are a work of art and data in themselves.  I’d go so far as to say that they’re another contemporary story telling technique.

Here’s one of the infographics that I spent time looking at this morning.  It’s titled “The pros and cons of social media in education” and was blogged by the Edtech Times who credit the authorship to OnlineUniversities.com.  Meet me under the infographic.

If we take a look at the infographic for its design, we see:

  • four major categories identified; (there are two number threes)
  • some bar charts;
  • graphic organizer showing relationships between items;
  • logos that we all recognize and are immediately drawn to;
  • sources credited for the resources;
  • identifier of the author;
  • a great deal of work with an image editing tool;
  • elements of design – colour, alignment, attractiveness to the viewer.

So let’s step away from the infographic per se, and think about this in the classroom.

A simple way to use the infographic would be as a resource from which to pull answers.  I’d like to think that we could move much deeper with the concept of infographics.  Why not make it the end result of a project?  Consider what the student or groups of students would do in order to be successful.

  • more than trivial use of their graphic tool; (Photoshop Elements, Powerpoint, CorelDRAW!)
  • the need to design the story they wish to tell;
  • research for facts, details, authorities;
  • design element choices – fonts, colours, graphics;
  • respect for copyright and the use of others’ efforts;
  • collaboration and agreement within their group;
  • choose the most appropriate way to display and tell their story;
  • determination of ultimate filetype;
  • critical decisions made about what information goes into the final design.

There is huge potential for this particular activity.  Not only is the process so important, the final product will display so nicely in the student or class blog or wiki.  Where do infographics fit with your curriculum?  If you are doing infographic activities with your class, please share challenges and successes below.

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25 thoughts on “The Deal with Infographics

  1. Hey Doug- We are in the midst of a #PBL unit in which my students are trying to tackle an issue of injustice and raise awareness/make a difference. At my encouragement several students are trying to create infographics. I’ve given them little direct instruction choosing instead to turn them loose to research and inquire. I have made a few suggestions of tools to use. I’m going to share your post with them tomorrow as I think you have pointed out some useful suggestions (and a few things they may have overlooked. I’ll let you know how it goes, but I do think infographics can be a useful project tool.

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  2. Yes, I find infographics intriguing because they are like essays cleverly camouflaged into entertainment. What I mean is you can learn more from them than you first realize.

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