Picture Your Concept

What relies on words as much as symbols and colors, saves as a JPEG and can communicate complicated ideas quite simply to many learners at one time?

An infographic.

Is it a shortcut? Is it an over-generalization? Does it water down concepts? Perhaps. But as an addition to a lesson, it’s pretty fantastic.

As a Pinterest enthusiast I pin lots of infographics to my boards. Some are the steps for a lesson plan; some break down what foods enhance performance for various activities; some explain business strategies I normally would have a lot of trouble comprehending, and some even tell you how to get dressed in the morning. However, I didn’t realize I could make my own until a colleague relayed the these online design tools to me via a group email. Immediately, I google searched. Boom. I made an account. Boom. Next thing you know I was completely absorbed, trying to create all the potential I saw in it.

With an infographic you are both guiding the brain toward a concept while providing evidence like data based charts, illustrating ideas or examples, stimulating the mind with vivid or pretty colors and highlighting main points. Plus, they’re fun to make.

There are some incredible programs online that offer the tools to create infographics. My favorite is Piktochart, which has the option of a basic free program as well as an upgrade for purchase. Not only is the infographic a useful teaching/explaining/review tool but also when you have an account with a program like piktochart, you can save the image not only onto your flashdrive but also the infographic can be saved at the piktochart website and be opened at anytime, anywhere there is an internet connection (pretty convenient).

I can imagine controversy building around the idea of implementing a tool like this in the classroom (only because new things always have opponents, which also makes the new things that much more exciting, no?). I can see academics complaining that it oversimplifies, dilutes the benefits of reading about an idea to learn it. You may as well show them Sesame Street! I imagine someone blurting. I understand the concerns, but the truth is with an infographic, more learners can comprehend more complex ideas. The infographic can convey the concepts to students that struggle with learning in a linear, linguistic way. It plucks out the bones of the idea into a graphic design that could potentially reach out to students’ diverse comprehension tactics. It’s a tough task to read some article from 1954 on the negative effects of social segregation. An infographic can supplement as well as bring focus to the fuzzy dated language and references in the article. After the infographic, they can then go back to the reading for improved comprehension. The infographic can also function as a basic foundation to review when they need to apply or discuss the ideas in a paper.

Here’s one I made to do a review of Character Development. I had a lot of specific ideas I wanted to target but I had very little time. This allowed me to cover much more than if I had done a basic lecture. Plus, they can refer to it when they need to. What do you think of the infographic?

Perhaps an infographic is just what you and your students have been missing. Why you should try to use one in class.

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