4 Quick Tips For Using Infographics As Learning Tools
If you've followed my blog for some time you know I make infographics. What you might not know is why. You probably guessed I enjoy it. You're right, I do. It allows me to be creative and that's important to me. However, the main reason I make them is because I want to learn.
I study brain science of learning. I want to know how the human mind acquires, understands, and applies information. I want to know the most effective ways to do that, so I can use them in my practice and help my students be successful in school, but more importantly in life. I want to know what makes them tick; what will get their attention and how to hold it. I want to know how to help them overcome fear and doubt and be able to solve problems and find new problems worth solving. I make infographics, because they help me remember, process, understand, create, and become more.
And this is what I want for my students.
We have a tendency to overwhelm students with information and don't give them enough time to process it. In a mad rush to get through the curriculum, we often push for quantity and quality suffers. We have to change this approach. It is better to do less, but meaningfully, than a lot haphazardly. If we want our students to learn, we need to give them adequate processing time. For me, creating infographics is what the brain doctor ordered.
1. Process Information to Make It Your Own.
Students need to process the new content. Whether we lecture, or ask them to read the textbook, or to watch a presentation or video, we must have students do something with this information right away. Therefore, it is best to limit the amount of stuff and increase the amount of time. Some quick ways to get students to process are discussion, recording 30 second videos, writing collaborative summaries, comparing/contrasting, drawing diagrams etc. The idea is to give students the opportunity to make meaning and make information their own before they begin creating their infographics.
2. Paraphrase, Combine, and Condense Text.
When I create my infographics, I always paraphrase what I'm learning to make it my own. I often pull concepts from several sources (books, articles, videos, and other online sources) in making of one infographic. I combine fragments into a whole. This requires additional processing during which new connections form in the brain and the acquired knowledge and understanding amplifies. Thus, it is beneficial to require students to use at least 3 sources of information, so they can thoughtfully combine them while getting repetition. Next, we can challenge students to condense the text as much as possible and replace it with images.
3. Be Intentional with Images.
Reading text is inefficient. Our brains process images much quicker, so it makes for a more effective teaching and learning tool to limit the infographic text and use images and speech when presenting. The very act of adding images makes for a powerful learning experience as the learner has to consider adequate images to represent each concept. Additional neural connections form when the mind considers the image to pick, the reasons for it, and whether the audience will be able to understand the concepts better as a result. The key is to make it intentional. If the teacher shares the creative space with her students, picks their brains as they work, and gives constructive feedback, she fosters such deep learning.
4. Empathize with and Present to an Audience.
It's helpful to use images that evoke strong emotions if the infographic is to be presented to an audience. In the old paradigm, we'd just tell students to create a presentation. But what if we teach them to put themselves in their audience's shoes? This leads to students experiencing creative struggle while making decisions about images, text, and speech. They make better choices when encouraged to empathize with the audience. As they predict what the audience might think and feel, the presentation evolves. This is how they should prepare and why they should present. Then, they teach, they learn, and they get mad skills.
And who doesn't want their kids to have mad skills?
You have the power to change lives. Use it often.
Hey! You can grab a bunch of free infographics I created here. There are a few paid products on the page, but don't freak, just get what you need.