Tuesday, February 21, 2012

The State of Infographics in Education

The ubiquity of infographics in popular media has nearly reached a saturation point in terms of interest and novelty. Print and online outlets, such as GOOD, Visual.ly, Mashable, and The New York Times, have promulgated these graphics to readers eager for crisp designs and concise messaging. It is surprising, therefore, that infographics still remain scarce in K-12 classrooms. Education has yet to catch up to the public fascination with visual displays of information. Perhaps this is because infographics do not fit neatly into district-defined, test-focused curricula. Infographics by their nature are interdisciplinary, combining layers of text, statistics, and creativity.

Source: The Millions, and Alberto Antoniazzi
Students naturally find infographics engaging, because they:
  • Portray ideas in colorful, pop art sensibilities
  • Appeal to visual learning styles 
  • Entertain the eye while encouraging decoding 

Teachers can find value in using infographics, because they:
  • Contain data-rich concepts within single snapshots
  • Promote the crucial skills of graphicacy 
  • Advocate critical thinking and cross-curricular learning 

Source: MakeUseOf
Infographics reinforce pedagoptics, which is a method of teaching with optical tools. This type of visual pedagogy relies on edsign, the educational design of information. In other words, pedagoptics represents the cognitive meeting point between the mental skills of iconography and semiology. Pedagoptics applies ocular acuity and analytical skills to academic contexts.

These visual tools are now more important than ever. Steve Lohr, in the New York Times Sunday Review, recently claimed that the "Age of Big Data" will require more and more students skilled in information analysis. Tim Kastelle, of the Innovation Leadership Network, argues similarly that "There's No Such Thing As Information Overload." Instead, thinkers need to be able to find and filter facts in a detail-driven world.

Maybe that's why this write-up from FastCoDesign, one of our favorite sites, strikes such a chord in explaining "Why Infographic Thinking Is The Future, Not A Fad." In this clip, Francesco Franchi, the art director for IL-Intelligence In Lifestyle, gives insight on "Visual Storytelling and New Languages In Journalism." He says infographics offer a "narrative language," using "representation plus interpretation to develop an idea:"


Francesco Franchi: On Visual Storytelling and New Languages in Journalism from Gestalten on Vimeo.

In the online magazine The Millions, Reif Larson recently offered a thorough recap of the evolution of graphic thinking. His essay, “This Chart Is A Lonely Hunter: The Narrative Eros Of The Infographic,” presents an engaging summary of data displays and visual storytelling. Larson even points to a new popular reliance on pictures as the fuel of social media:

"We’ve given today’s visual storytellers considerable power: for better or worse, they are the new meaning-makers, the priests of shorthand synthesis. We’re dependent on these priests to scrutinize, bundle, and produce beautiful information for us so that we can have our little infogasm and then retweet the information to our friends."
Source: Infogr.am

There are numerous tools to aid these emboldened visual storytellers. Our "Resources" page has a list of chart- and graph-makers, as well as infographic generators. Two promising new sites include Infogr.am, for creating custom graphics, and Maps For That!, for browsing a gallery of mind-mapping diagrams.

Source: Maps for That!
Check out our page of "Infographics" to find images for all academic disciplines. Listed by subject, the infographics are effective for daily lessons or presentations. For further reading about visual thinking and data visualization, here are some high-quality, recent articles:

3 comments:

  1. Well it is a worthy information about infographics.Hope it is useful for many people.Nice sharing.

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    ReplyDelete
  2. I’m glad to locate so much of informative data in your blog. infographic design

    ReplyDelete
  3. We must take advantage of social media such as infographics. I believe the public school system in every country can be resurrected by the use of social media in the classroom.

    ReplyDelete

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