Kathy Schrock, an educational technologist, defines infographics as a “visual representation of data. When students create infographics, they are using information, visual, and technology literacies” (1). When incorporated into course work, infographics can serve multiple instructional objectives, especially when they are part of a scaffolded series of assignments with a focus on research. In this context, creating an infographic enables students to develop skills in graphic design and data visualization as well as gain experience in using a different than usual mode to convey findings.
Before introducing an infographics assignment, instructors should consider the skills students currently have to effectively research, integrate, and organize the information to be communicated through an infographic as well as the design and digital technology skills for designing the infographic in a visually appealing way. Assignments should adequately scaffold students’ progress through the various steps involved in designing an infographic as a final product of the research process. Steps could include creating an annotated bibliography, a draft of the key points, and a sketch of the design.(2)
While many students are likely familiar with infographics from social media, they may not have had much experience critiquing or authoring them in an academic setting.(3) In preparation for the assignments, find an infographic in your field to analyze together as a class. Once you’ve analyzed this infographic as a class, have students locate infographics in your field or their area of interest to critique individually or in small groups. This will help them think critically about what makes a good infographic.
Technology tools for creating infographics are abundant and include such common applications as PowerPoint. If you wish to focus more intensively on the research process, you may want to have your students use PowerPoint, as most of them will be familiar with it. However, free web-based tools for creating infographics, such as Canva and Piktograph, offer a relatively easy-to-use interface as well as templates that can help students get a quick start on more sophisticated layouts. Students can upload their own images to include in the graphics or they can choose from a library of clipart. The free versions often limit some of the file export features but do allow the user to download their finished product as an image or PDF.
If you’d like to discuss how to incorporate an infographic research assignment into your course, contact the Learning and Teaching Technology Consultants at LSATechnologyServices@umich.edu!
Infographics. (n.d.). Retrieved January 30, 2020, from https://www.schrockguide.net/infographics-as-an-assessment.html
What are the Elements of an Effective Infographic Assignment? (n.d.). Retrieved January 30, 2020, from https://www.teachology.ca/knowledgebase/what-are-the-elements-of-an-effective-infographic-assignment/
The Whats Whys and Hows of Infographic Assignments. (2015, May 29). Retrieved January 30, 2020, from https://at.blogs.wm.edu/infographics-as-alternatives-to-traditional-writing-assignments-what-why-and-how/