Thing 23: Infographics & Data Visualization

INTRODUCTION

What is an Infographic by HotButterStudio.com
What is an Infographic by HotButterStudio.com

Using graphics and text to present data and information in not a new idea. Infographics, or ‘information graphics’, have been appearing in print, advertising, on tv news shows and more, for a very long time. But it’s only recently that easy to use (and free/cheap) tools for creating them have become available.

Pictures really can be worth a thousand words. Images grab our attention. And carefully created representations of data and other information can help us quickly grasp what is being presented and communicate a message more effectively. This topic makes me think back to the dark ages when I was a kid and infographics in newspapers and magazines often caught my eye. They helped me understand stories that were often beyond my reading level and pushed me to read and explore further.

“We are bombarded by slick images every minute of everyday. The aim of an infographic is to parse what might be perceived as an overwhelming amount of information into manageable bites or small nuggets that transform text into memorable images and meaning.” (from Transliteracy Librarian )

Data Visualization & Infographics? Is there a difference? A data visualization is really just a special type of infographic. An infographic may not include any actual data, while a data visualization must. Charts and graphs that clearly present real data are data visualizations.  An infographic may present ideas, trends, information, but no real data. To illustrate, look at these infographics:

The beauty of data visualization: TED Talk by David McCandless

PURPOSES

Infographics can be used in so many different ways: for advocacy, creating persuasive arguments, as teaching tools, as learning assessments, for presentation slides, in research presentations and more.

You can use infographics to showcase what is happening in your library and include them in your reports to school administrators, on your blogs and websites, in newsletters, posters and more. Students can create them as part of all sorts of learning projects. And it’s essentional that students understand how the representation (and mis-representation!) of data can help shape opinion. Knowing how how to analyze infographics is a vital information/media literacy skill.

Infographics as a Creative Assessment from Kathy Schrock on Vimeo.

PROCESS

Creating an infographic pulls together many skills:

  • Defining an issue & deciding what questions to ask.
  • Finding reliable information and data.
  • Analyzing data to test arguments.
  • Creating a story line for presenting the information.
  • Considering the audience and what they need/want to know.
  • Making choices about colors, design, and layout.

The Anatomy Of An Infographic: 5 Steps To Create A Powerful Visual is a great introduction to the process of creating a good infographic.

THINGS TO EXPLORE

Analyzing Infographics

Articles, Tips, Resources

Collections of Infographics

Tools

  • Easelly – One of AASL’s Best Websites for Teaching and Learning in 2013
  • Piktochart – Free and Pro accounts.
  • Infogr.am – Upload data, create graphs, charts and more. Free and pro acounts.
  • Viz – Handy, easy to use iOS app for creating colorful, simple graph charts.
  • Create A Graph – Tools to help students (and adults!) understand & creat basic types of charts and graphs.
  • Visualize.me – Highly specific tool, creates an attractive “resume” (of sorts) from your LinkedIn account. (Polly’s example)
  • Canva – In addition to creating posters, banners, resumes, etc, you can create infographics too. (Canva Tips)
  • Venngage – Free and paid accounts. Templates for a variety of purposes.
  • PowerPoint, Keynote – An overlooked tool. Lots of options within these common programs. Save a slide as a jpg with a a simple screenshot.
  • Juice Labs Chart Chooser – Helps you select the type of chart you should use for various purposes.
  • Over 100 Incredible Infographic Tools and Resources (Categorized)

LEARNING ACTIVITY

  • Create an infographic
    • Pick a topic – something about your library/classroom, something you can use in teaching, an example for a student project.
    • Gather some information and/or data.
    • Using one of the tools above or other tool of your choice, create an infographic.
  • Your Blog Post:
    • Embed your infographic or link to it.
    • Explain what the infographic is about, why you chose to create it.
    • Talk about the process.
    • Consider how you can use infographics with your students or in your professional practice.

*TURNING IN YOUR ASSIGNMENT

  • Write & publish your blog post.
  • Copy the URL for the post.
  • Return to the lesson page on the CanvasLMS site.
  • Use the SUBMIT ASSIGNMENT button in the CanvasLMS page and paste in your URL.

*Only for students participating in the workshop for PD credit hours through the Canavas LMS system.

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