Teaching Tip #11: Teaching infographics to your students

A portmanteau word comprising information and graphic, it includes graphics showing data, text, or both presented in the form of a chart or diagram. It’s a field of design whose function is visual communication. This mode of communication has penetrated many domains of knowledge because it is a way of presenting information. It is an important 21st century skill under digital literacy because it amalgamates all sorts of digital resources to present information, make predictions, and project plans. It is certainly a skill that students would value as a takeaway.

An infographic tells a story compellingly and in a way that is understandable. It tells a pre-defined story with a sense of beginning and an end so that viewers don’t get lost. It needs to bring practical value to its audience, enlightening and entertaining and maybe even providing a new angle, all at once. Visuals supplement the text, often coming with unconventional angles to its visuals, to increase comprehensibility. Take a close look at the examples below and identify what all they contain.

         

These infographics present useful information in bite-sized units of display. They include a lot of information, accurate, researched and complete, but all of the resources need to be structured thoughtfully, by first, identifying the critical issue. Even when there is a lot of information, the key points must stand out with the help of visuals. If necessary, the information may be broken up into smaller units along with the accompanying visuals. See how this has been accomplished in the above examples.

While structuring content, an infographic may use a question pyramid to turn the main issue into 3-5 actionable questions, to tackle the issue. Like this:

The next step should be to decide how to present that data visually. You could use the ICCORE method (Inform, Compare, Change, Organize, Reveal or Explore) to decide your goal. The goal will help you decide what visual you should use. E.g., if you want to inform, you may want to highlight an important fact or data. Now grab attention by pairing icons with text. Or if you want to compare data, show similarities or differences among values or parts of a whole, for example, by using a pie chart, donut chart, pictograph, or a tree map. If you want to indicate change, use a timeline, a line graph, or an area chart. If you need to show organization within your text, use a list, table, Venn diagram, a flowchart or a mind-map. If your text needs to reveal relationships, a scatter plot or a multi-series plot would help.

The above displays also show how infographics may be made visually appealing by minimal text. Remember, 90% of the information absorbed is through the visual mode. Hence, a clean design with harmonious colours and objects are indispensible. Try to stick to a colour palette. The core purpose of an infographic is to simplify a complex idea which makes them great educational tools, especially when presenting an overview of a topic instead of an in-depth analysis. As more and more content is being funnelled through the Internet every day, infographics communicate an idea simply and quickly and is a huge asset for any educator, brand, business, designer, or blogger. Young learners must thus learn early how to read and create them. Some of the tools that help you create an infographic are Visme, Snappa, Pictochart, Googlechart, Vengage, Animaker, etc. They help you convert plain looking data into visually comprehensible input.

 

Author: Sonali Bhattacharyya

 

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