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LESSON 13: Understanding Infographics

Purpose
Develop new communication skills by learning to share information succinctly using language, graphic design, and images.

Key concepts
Infographics arent better than their data With so much available data, attention spans are short Presenting key concepts in a compelling way is an art Appropriate for Grades 7-12

Grades:

Time Required:

30-45 minutes

Preparation
Equipment needed: Internet access, projector, and screen to best show infographic samples. News articles needed: HeyUguys.co.uks Feb.27th article The Oscars 2012 Infographic AnsonAlex.com Feb 20th Facebook User Statistics 2012 [Infographic] Visualization.geblogs.com The future of Solar Visual.lys Feb 1st infographic, Infographic of Infographics The Anatomy Of An Infographic: 5 Steps To Create A Powerful Visual

Accompanying PPT presentation (located at iKeepCurrent.org)

Vocabulary
Infographic also called information graphics, is a popular way to present data by distilling the words, data points, key concepts and illustrations that might be present in a report and creating a visual representation of the material.

Lesson Development
Introduction or Attention Activity
How many of you know what an infographic is? (Ask for a show of hands, and call on students to see how they define an infographic, and then read the following description) An infographic, also called information graphics, is a popular way to present data by distilling the words, data points, key concepts and illustrations that might be present in a report and creating a visual representation of the material. Infographics are being created to help people understand virtually any topic; for example, it only took 12 hours after the Oscars ended for the first Oscar infographics to start popping up. (Show full size The Oscars 2012 infographici) Infographics arent just about entertainment however, look at this one that
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explains the future of solar technology (Show full size The future of Solar infographicii), or this one about Facebook, which is always a popular infographic topic. (Show the full size Facebook User Statistics 2012 infographiciii). The Oscars 2012 Infographic The future of Solar Facebook User Statistics 2012

Lesson
Is a picture really worth a thousand words? Research indicates that visual communication may be more powerful than verbal communication, suggesting that people learn and retain information when it is presented visually better than when it is only provided verbally or as textiv. Every single day we create with 2.5 billion gigabytes of data from sensors, mobile devices, online transactions, and social networksv. That amount of data is equal to a fulllength episode of Glee running continuously for 214 thousand years.vi With this much data being generated, two new skills have become critical for students and all internet users to master: The ability to absorb and make sense of huge amounts of information The ability to present huge amounts of information visually in ways that is easy for others to absorb. Enter the world of infographics, where the combination of relevant data and a visually memorable format bring quick understanding to topics. Infographics however arent without drawbacks. Whenever you look at an infographic there are some critical thinking questions you need to consider. Can you think of what these questions might be? (See if the students come up with critical thinking questions, if not help prompt them to include the following: What are the sources behind the data used? Is the source reputable? Is the data relevant? How old is the data? Are sources cited? Infographics cannot tell the whole story, so is there an angle or bias coming through? What is the motive of the organization, person, or group that created the infographic? Is the motive to educate, entertain, or sell something? Are you being manipulated through the text, colors or graphics? Does the infographic represent an accurate outline of the data?)

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There are three core components in creating an infographic according to the online design and development magazine SpyreStudios. Can you guess what these components are? ((See what suggestions students come up with, then go through the following list). Anatomy of an Infographic: 1. Visual Color Coding Graphics Reference Icons 2. Content o Time Frames o Statistics o References 3. Knowledge o Facts o Deductions In addition to these elements, infographic designers have to take into consideration their target audience. Who will see or use your infographic? Will it be kids, adults, or other experts in the topic area? Who you are targeting will have a huge impact on the colors, icons, images, content complexity, and the knowledge shared. To see how these components come together, there is of course an infographic that can help! (Show the full size Infographic of Infographics infographicvii).
o o o

Here we can see the types of charts and fonts that are most frequently used, the countries most often featured, the colors most often used, how navigation works, the number of sources cited even the number of words in the average infographic title.

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The key to your success in creating infographics will be combining these elements in a way that tells the story of the data youre trying to present.

Wrap-Up
Before believing any data presented in an infographic, and especially before citing the data in your own reports, you need to look at the sources, dive beneath the surface to get a fuller understanding, and know what, if any, motivation was behind the creation of the piece. When creating an infographic, your job is to put the pieces together in a way that tells an accurate story in a compelling way.

Optional Activities
1. Ask students to find and analyze an infographic. They should be able to answer the critical thinking questions: Does the infographic cite their sources? and, Are the sources reputable? Is the data relevant? How old is the data? Is there an angle or bias coming through? What is the motive of the organization, person, or group that created the infographic? Is it to educate, entertain, or sell something? Are you being manipulated through the text, colors or graphics? Does the infographic represent an accurate outline of the data? 2. Ask students to form groups and create an infographic on a topic of their choice, or on an assignment you are currently working on. Based on the age of your students, adjust the level of complexity you require. But all ages should follow the guidelines in the Anatomy of an Infographic section. Older students should leverage the information in the full article The Anatomy Of An Infographic: 5 Steps To Create A Powerful Visual, and may want to leverage additional articles listed under the additional resources. As a stretch classroom project, you could ask the class to vote on the infographics for best data, best creative art, best overall flow, etc. You could also vote on which infographics should be shared with other classes, with the school (if the topic is relevant), and so on.

Alternate Perspectives
Professional Development for Educators
Given the very powerful nature of quality infographics in learning and retaining information, these can be powerful tools in the classroom. Think about material you are trying to teach in upcoming lessons. Have you looked online to see if there are existing infographics that can help your students better understand the material?
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If you have not yet tried your hand at creating infographics, nows is a great time to start. Use the same resources listed for students in the lesson and under the additional resources section, and find other online sources as needed. Once youve created your first infographic, youll find these become easier to do over time. You can measure your infographics success by how well it increases your students understanding of the topic.

Parent Material
Critical thinking, and the ability to communicate information effectively to others, are two key skills every student must learn. In class this week we delved into the expanding field of infographics, and we looked at these from two perspectives. The first perspective was that of a viewer, and we challenged students to ask critical questions like: Does the infographic cite their sources? and, Are the sources reputable? Is the data relevant? and, how old is the data? What is the motive of the organization, person, or group that created the infographic? Is it to educate, entertain, or sell something? Is there an angle or bias coming through? Are readers being manipulated through the text, colors or graphics? Does the infographic represent an accurate outline of the data? Look at some infographics with your child, and see how well they can identify the correct answers to these questions. Make it a game that every time you see an infographic you review these critical thinking questions, and see if you cant come up with additional questions. The second perspective discussed in class was that of an infographic creator. Your child will need to be able to create infographics of their own to convey information in an easily digestible and retainable format for school projects and when they enter the work force. In fact, distilling information down to the key points and learning to make it visually appealing will help them learn to summarize and distill any information they need to learn. Consider making an infographic together for your family. Maybe it shows recurring calendar appointments like piano lessons, sports team practices, work schedules, and so on. Or maybe it outlines the chore list or your media viewing rules. Be creative with color, images and the content to keep your infographic short, clear, and meaningful.

Additional Resources
Infographics: How to Make Them Work Best 5 unbeatable types of infographics and free tools to create them Top Tools for Making Incredible Infographics Tips Tricks and Resources to Make Your Own Gorgeous Inforgraphics Introduction to Infographics and Visualization for Journalists The Dos And Donts Of Infographic Design: Revisited
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Full News Articles


Due to the graphic nature of these articles, they are best viewed in their original forms: HeyUguys.co.uks Feb.27th article The Oscars 2012 Infographic AnsonAlex.com Feb 20th Facebook User Statistics 2012 [Infographic] Visualization.geblogs.com The future of Solar Visual.lys Feb 1st infographic, Infographic of Infographics

http://www.heyuguys.co.uk/images/2012/02/Oscars-2012-Infographic.jpg http://visualization.geblogs.com/visualization/solar/ iii http://ansonalex.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/02/facebook-user-statistics-2012-infographic.jpg iv Thriving in Academe: A Rationale for Visual Communication, National Education Association Advocate Online, December 2001. v The Curious Case of Big Data, Technewsworld.com Feb 25th 2012 vi Calculated by the number of bytes per day (see endnote ii), and the estimation that 3 hours of data ~ 4Gb divided by the number of hours in a year. vii http://visually.visually.netdnacdn.com/makeestablishingclarityfunuseinfographicstobring_4f2a3741c861b.png
ii

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