When a picture is worth a thousand words… without a thousand evils!
By Anik Lessard-Routhier
A file produced jointly by École branchée and Carrefour éducation
There are tons of ways to make it easier for students to learn. If, traditionally, reading textbooks was the basic method for appropriating information, new technologies now make it possible to make content more attractive, of course, but above all easier to assimilate and remember. In this context, educational infographic seems a solution that should not be overlooked in the classroom!
- What are the basics of this content transmission technique?
- With what tools can you easily create educational infographics?
- In what contexts will they allow you and your students to derive the greatest benefits?
These are some of the questions that this dossier will answer.
SUMMARY OF THE FILE
1. Educational infographics: a visual tool for learning
- The advantages of computer graphics in the classroom
2. Characteristics of a successful infographic
3. Making an infographic: how to do it?
- Online tools
- Other tools for visual learning
4. Computer graphics at the service of the teacher
- To convey information
- To plan your teaching
- To assess the students
5. Computer graphics at the service of the student
- To supervise the work
- To facilitate certain tasks and learning
Educational infographics: A visual tool for learning
At first glance, the term "computer graphics" may seem daunting or imply the need for complex technical skills. But fear not! Applied to education, computer graphics is a very user-friendly and effective learning method.
In fact, we could define computer graphics as a synthesis tool to appropriate and transmit various content visually. It is therefore a kind of presentation (think, for example, of a poster) that brings together in a single document and a single glance, all the information you want to convey. This obviously has the main advantage of making it easier to understand and retain content for those who use these infographics, whether as a designer or a receiver.
In order to get a more concrete idea of what an infographic can look like and its main uses and benefits, take a look at the following one. You will kill two birds with one stone, since this infographic, precisely, summarizes what there is to know about them. You will also notice that by reading the next section of this file, you will obtain the same information as if you had only gone through this infographic, but in more time.
This is the opportunity to compare how you perceive the information. Will you have better remembered what you have perceived thanks to the infographic or what you will have read in this file? Do you prefer to combine the two methods, that is to say reading complete texts + synthetic infographic? Which of these methods do you think should be introduced first? You will understand that there are no right or wrong answers to these questions, it all depends on the tastes and the way you learn.
The benefits of infographics in the classroom
Whether you are the one making the infographics or entrusting the task to your homework students, and whatever the context in which you use them, these educational presentations will win you over with their many benefits, both cognitively and motivational. .
In the first place, this method promotes the development of the analytical mind. Indeed, in order to create an infographic, you must first appropriate the content. The teacher who creates them will therefore be better able to transmit his material, and the student will have a better understanding of what he conveys in his own work, rather than copying sentences without any meaning or real link. The visual aspect of this type of tool indeed requires prior reflection on the best way to present its content. A choice will therefore be made in order to determine what is essential to transmit, as opposed to secondary content. In addition, links between the contents will have to be established, which obliges the creator to properly structure the data. All of this mental effort and personal appropriation of information greatly reduces the risk of plagiarism in the completion of assignments and enhances the true understanding of learners.
Motivation linked to the use of ICT
In addition, students' motivation is solicited when work is required in the form of computer graphics, since this involves ICT. Aesthetics and creativity are also involved, which is likely to amuse students and appeal to those with a more developed artistic personality. Moreover, sharing these works is interesting: by publishing them on the Web or projecting them on the TNI, for example, you make the students proud of their achievements.
Alliance between image and words to promote assimilation
Obviously, once brought into the world and shared, a good infographic can make the material easier to assimilate. In this sense, they are an excellent preparation tool for exams, since students only have to revise them to check if they have understood everything, which can moreover be done with the support of parents, who can they also consult the infographics. In addition, the alliance between the visual and the words promotes short and long term retention. What could be better?
Now let's take a look at the characteristics of a successful infographic.
The characteristics of a successful infographic
Before designing your first infographic (we also suggest some online tools in an other part of this file), learn about the elements that will make your creations real successes! A well thought-out infographic can make all the difference in students.
Consider first the key message that you want to convey. The latter will be coupled with some essential information. Obviously, when you teach, your words and examples will orally complete the infographic and will add significant but secondary information to it.
The data that you want to make known can be of any kind, both quantitative and qualitative. Moreover, the combination of these two types makes your work even more complete. Moreover, the form that the data will take should be varied: text, figures, graphs, diagrams, charts (see on this subject our mind maps folder), images and sometimes even videos. The idea is to make the data appear complementary in their form, so as to attract more attention and interest from the pupils.
The layout, meanwhile, must be user-friendly, that is to say airy and easy to understand. The links between the information will be obvious and the keywords used, evocative, which will make their retention easier. While it might seem like a given, a successful infographic includes citing sources and signing the person who made it.
Regarding the form of your infographic, aim for minimalism. Your creation will take you less time to complete, and in addition, its impact will be amplified. In terms of colors, three or four appear sufficient. Do not hesitate to opt for gradients or colors of similar or complementary tones. As for the fonts, it is to your advantage to limit them to one or two, for example by distinguishing the titles and sub-titles from the texts themselves. Instead, use the character options to emphasize certain elements, adding bold, highlighting or underlining, or changing the size of the letters. Finally, consider balancing groupings and empty spaces.
Ready to give it a try? Your process starts now!
How to make an infographic?
Now let's get into the practical part. To make an infographic, you can use software you already have, but you might also like to check out some free online apps that specialize in easy infographics.
Among the well-known software that allows the creation of infographics, you can opt for PowerPoint (and save your files in image format, for example). More sophisticated software like Illustrator, Gimp or Photoshop are also suitable. If you want to create diagrams, some free software like FreePlane and Xmind can be downloaded for free (see our mind maps folder to know more). In addition, word processing software could also be used to make infographics, but they are usually a little less practical for this type of realization.
By choosing software that you already own and master, you save a little time, since you don't have to learn how to use it and it is already installed on your computer. That said, a few drawbacks remain. Indeed, these tools will probably be less user-friendly than those which are primarily intended for visual creations. Also, sharing or posting to the web does not happen automatically.
In order to overcome these disadvantages, you should know that there are free online tools especially dedicated to computer graphics. Among these, we can mention :
- Can go
- Infogr.am (paying after 10 infographics)
- Venngage (5 free infographics)
I tested some of these applications to see what a lazy neophyte in the field like me (!) Could get out of them without too much effort. Indeed, whether you plan to use them for your teaching or that you plan to offer this activity to your students, they, like you, do not have all your life to understand the workings of new technological tools. They must therefore be able to be used easily and allow the production of quality infographics without requiring too much time.
So I had fun using Piktochart and Canva to compare them. See the result of my comparison in this infographic, created with Piktochart.
Although my personal preference is Picktochart, I recommend both tools. The basic visual models offered vary, as does how they work, and since all tastes are in nature, you might not come to the same conclusion as I did.
EDITOR'S NOTE: As this brief was written in 2015, it should be noted that Canva has evolved tremendously since then and is a great choice for educational purposes, even allowing for simple video creation.
Other tools for visual learning
In addition, you should know that some websites offer other options for making infographics "by the strip". In fact, we are talking about infographics in the broadest sense of the word, i.e. visual creations, but oriented towards a specific presentation style. See what you can do, among others:
- The schematics : fans of mind maps or mind maps will like SpiderScribe. You can save your creations there and share them. Check out our mind maps folder for other options online or download.
- The word clouds: all the keywords relating to a subject can be amalgamated into an evocative cloud. The site Wordle lets you get there in no time.
- The interactive presentations: Do you want a more attractive presentation than those obtained on PowerPoint? The site Prezi will delight you. You can create interactive presentations from scratch, but it's also good to know that site users share thousands of presentations that you can freely copy (users give permission) and edit as you wish. So, if you like a presentation template, you can keep the shape while changing the content. In addition to text, presentations allow the integration of images and videos.
- The pictorial timelines: Since a picture is worth a thousand words, add more to your timelines to make them even more meaningful. This is possible with tools like Timeline JS and Dipity.
- The interactive images: On an image of your choice, add clickable elements that will lead to videos or web pages. This is what allows Thinglink.
- The edited videos : surprise your students by showing them videos of Youtube, on which will appear your comprehension questions or even your written or audio comments. Thanks to EdPuzzleYou can even cut out videos that seem to go on forever. You can even cut out videos that seem to go on forever, or where only a portion of the video caught your attention, and get a shorter version. You can even have fun asking your students from time to time, for example: "Charles, are you listening well? Laughter and concentration guaranteed!
As you can see, these possibilities are only the tip of the iceberg. Now that you know some tools allowing you to put the image at the service of learning, the next section will allow you to distinguish various contexts of educational uses, so that your horizons extend even further ...
Computer graphics at the service of the teacher
Here are some uses of computer graphics in the service of the teacher.
To convey information
By creating your infographics, you will be able to present information in an effective and structured way, whether it is the material seen in class or the content of a parent meeting at the beginning of the year. Obviously, the presentation of your creations is perfectly suitable for use on TNI, whether as a single document or within a slide show. When you present your infographics, you can complete them with oral explanations. By also providing a paper copy of your achievements to your students, they can take notes directly on them, in order to better appropriate them.
All of the infographics from your courses can be compiled into a collection and made available in print as a reference tool. By sharing on the web instead, you kill two birds with one stone: you ensure a more environmentally friendly and sustainable distribution (as you can leave your infographics online from year to year), but you also allow parents to read them and better support their child if needed. Feel free to invite your students to review the infographics as test preparation.
Printed in large format, your creations can also be used as posters in the classroom. Laminate them and keep them for subsequent years, in order to highlight them at the appropriate time. As examples, here are infographics created by teachers that will surely inspire you ...
|This one illustrates brilliantly the writing of numbers up to the billions. As you can see, tables, words and numbers come together, all in a sober presentation with only one color tone.|
|Here, simplicity is at the rendezvous. This sober visual uses the addition technique. Colors are used to differentiate the units from the tens.|
|The understanding of sounds and their possible spellings is very suitable for the creation of computer graphics. On the site from which this one comes, you will find many to download.|
|The site The keys to the classroom includes a wealth of infographics for learning French and math. You will find diagrams, including this nice mind map on prepositions. Other infographics focus on specific concepts, like this one on adverbs.|
To plan your teaching
The creation of an infographic can also be a way for each teacher to summarize the main contents that will be transmitted during a stage or a school year. You will thus obtain a visual of the expected course for a period X and the material to be evaluated. Everything can be transmitted to the students, so that they can identify where they are at in their learning.
This pictorial progression will also be useful during parents' meetings, in order to present them in a schematic way the development of their child. You will find a basic infographic example going in this direction on the CEFES site of the University of Montreal.
Similarly, the homework for the week can be presented using an infographic template including, for example, icons for each subject. You could also make an aesthetic calendar that provides an overview of all the work to be submitted during a stage. Otherwise, using Thinglink, it is possible to make an image clickable, which will lead students to the necessary links in order to revise their lessons (to vocabulary pages, sections of Alloprof or other online infographics, for example). On this blog page If that's not unfortunate!, you will find a table created to visualize the homework for the week.
When you present a work to be handed in, your requirements and instructions could also be collated on an infographic. Let’s bet that the students will conform to them better, because they will remember them better.
To assess students
By having students create infographics, you end up with an output that on its own can be a comprehensive assessment. As this realization requires a good understanding of the material and the ability to make links between the contents, it allows to evaluate in an individualized way.
Of course, plan formative assessments of the same type first, as producing quality infographics requires some practice. For example, after X number of periods, you could invite the students to create an infographic of the subject, a few times before the summative exam. Another option might be to divide the material into teams so that in each class, one team becomes responsible for creating a summary infographic, which is presented at the beginning of the next class as feedback. This will help you provide meaningful feedback to students on their understanding and assimilation of the content, as well as adequately prepare them for a "create your infographic" assessment.
Schematic infographics can also be used as a correction grid. In this case, the evaluation criteria are presented on an infographic that includes spaces for recording observed elements. This comes in handy, among other things, when evaluating an oral presentation. You can then take time with the student to provide feedback on each of the criteria, by presenting your annotated infographic. On the page Build a criterion-referenced evaluation grid, you will be able to see a very simple evaluation diagram, with which you could carry out your evaluations by indicating your criteria.
Computer graphics at the service of the student
Here are now some uses of computer graphics in the service of the student!
To supervise the work
The more infographics you present, the better your students will become. You will thus transmit to them a technique which will serve them all their life and will promote their spirit of synthesis. You can create a thousand and one opportunities for your young people to manipulate the material with the help of infographics.
Simply put, all traditional research can have an infographic component rather than just text. See, for example, this image which summarizes the functions of the two hemispheres of the brain: it could have been created by students while researching this topic. Not only will you save time on proofreading, since this type of work is quicker to complete, but you will avoid plagiarism of portions of articles, since the infographic sort of forces the use of keywords rather than sentences. Of course, you can also combine the two methods, i.e. require a text that will be complemented by an infographic. Don't hesitate to publish the work on the Web, to increase the motivation of your troops.
Source: Canopy Academy of Besançon
If the students are to present their work orally in class, it is highly relevant to simultaneously present the infographic on TNI as a visual aid. This process allows the audience to follow better, but above all it reduces the stress of the presenter by serving as a reminder sheet.
As mentioned earlier, class time can be made available to create personal or sharing review and study tools. This cooperative and creative learning promotes meaningful exchanges between students.
To facilitate certain tasks and learning
While most of the possible content is suitable for infographics, some repetitive data will particularly benefit from their creation. Vocabulary words, for example, could be the subject of a new infographic each week, posted in the classroom and shared on the web. In this sense, the use of Wordle is an option. You can even delegate the task to students.
Illustrating the operating tables is also proving to be a stimulating challenge. How could we present the tables so that their visual appearance becomes embedded in the brains of young people? Launch the idea directly to them and see what they create! As an example, this infographic offers a simplified version of the multiplication tables. Can they do better?
Several grammar rules, like that of the famous past participles, could be better understood and remembered if they were presented visually. See it by observing this infographic on the subject.
Artistically, computer graphics are a tool of expression par excellence. Students could use this technique to set up their creative journal online in which they sleep their feelings or their daydreams in a virtual way.
It is also a great creative tool. For example, an infographic could bring a story character to life or even be a portrait of yourself. You could ask children an essay question (e.g., what will you be doing when you're thirty?) and let them answer with an infographic that includes images and short texts. The presentation of poems goes very well with infographics and can be very simple (as in this example). It can also be considered to create recipe books, alphabet books, etc. In another creative vein, the children could create a poster identified with their first name to stick on their locker or desk.
In addition, at the organizational level, computer graphics can facilitate the creation of promotional posters to put up throughout the school to advertise extracurricular activities. This example of the evolution of a project, although not school, offers an interesting visual.
In short, the possibilities are immense. Just have fun seeing how the information, activities and content around you can benefit from images. Go for it: your teaching will never be the same again, and that's good!