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Saturday, November 22, 2014

Infographics: For what a graphic is worth a thousand words (or at least more engaging?)

We live in the ages of sound-bytes. The visual sound-byte of 2014 is called an "Infographic". We see them all over the place.  Here is what they are:




Or, in other words, it is an "information graphic" that presents information in a graphic format, rather than only verbal. It aims to make the data being presented understood easily, quickly and concisely. Infographics try to boil the information down to its essential points. Granted, in the age of sound-bytes and infographics, the details can sometimes be lost, but their popularity suggests they achieve their aim.

I have been playing around with infographics in my class recently, and find them useful and full of yet-unused (by me) potential.  There are different sites that can be used to make an infographic. I have been playing around with Easelly (http://www.easel.ly/) but it certainly is not the only one. 

The first one I made was to instruct my students in how to prepare for doing a listening comprehension activity (when the students hear an audio text and need to answer questions about it). They will be having such an exercise on their Module E matriculation exam at the end of this year, and it is a technique that can easily be improved by practice. I discussed what they need to do in order to best succeed, and embedded this infographic on my webpage - so as I explained the procedure, I had this on the screen. Then, when I played the text for them, I left it on the screen so that they could refer back to it.



Here's another one: In tomorrow's lesson, the class will need to write a biography. This infographic will help me present the procedure, and will be on the screen as they write, so that they can refer to it while they work.



  (I made this infographic in conjunction with the textbook Bridges, p. 17)

Another rich potential for infographics is student presentation. I have not incorporated this into my class practice yet, but intend to offer it as a mode of presentation for the biography that they write. 


If you are interested and want to learn more about making and using infographics, here are some sources I found useful:



  • Adam Simpson has some interesting insights about using them in the English teaching classroom.  
  • Larissa also has some clever ideas for taking advantage of infographics in language teaching.



Have you ever used infographics in your teaching practices? If so, please share your ideas here!

Digitally yours,
@dele