Teaching Infographics

I’m planning a mini unit about infographic design for the middle school students. We are going to start with an ‘About Me’ project to learn the elements of graphic design. As a bonus, the kids are looking for an interesting and attractive visual for the home page of their ePortfolio websites – I’m hoping this can fill that need.

While reading through other Course 3 posts, I found an excellent infographic on design principles that I will use to introduce the elements of CARP.

Image courtesy of Reid Wilson @wayfaringpath

To help them understand The Big Four, I will provide some printouts of others’ personal infographics. The kids will work in groups to find and label examples of contrast, alignment, repetition, or proximity. Because these students are prone to over decorate their portfolio pages, I will also prompt them to look deeper into the color schemes and texts.  In addition to a couple relevant examples on 9 Dynamic Digital Resumes that Stand Out from the Crowd, here are samples of what I will provide for analysis:

Image courtesy of Visual.ly
Image via Ioanna @ioannakoliou.com/about-me/

One of the challenges will be the understanding that every choice of the designer, from colors to images, was for a reason. Each element must symbolize or communicate something. For instance, we can look at how they used colors in this infographic to show where the changes are happening in the body:

How Quitting Smoking Changes Your Body
Image via Visual.ly

http://a.visual.ly/api/embed/189865?width=900

Our next step will be to sketch out some basic plans on paper. As a class, we should be able to look at our examples and create a list of details that everyone should include, as well some optional categories like interests and skills.

Before they get too far into an actual design, I will need to show them the tools. I’ll give them the choice of  PiktoChart, Easel.ly, or Google Drawings. With Google Drawings, to avoid clicking and copying, I will also need to include instructions of how to use sites like Font Squirrel, DAFonts, free clip art, or images licensed for reuse. Since they are all basic design programs, I won’t want them to get too far into drawing their design and then being disappointed that it can’t be recreated. I chose these three sites because they were the least confining if you already had a vision in mind and they all have the option to start from a blank page in order to practice their new CARP skills.

Here is a basic example I quickly made on a Google Drawing and can add to during instruction. 

We’ll see how it goes and I’ll be sure to post an update here about changes I had to make. And of course, I’d appreciate feedback or ideas you may have thought of reading my plans.

5 thoughts on “Teaching Infographics”

  1. Hi Randi,
    I found your post very useful. You have made teaching infographics seem less daunting. I’ll be introducing infographics to my Grade 5 class this week and have a quick question for you. Which of these programmes do you think will be most suitable for younger students?
    Thanks!
    Amanda

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    1. Hi Amanda,
      I found that Piktochart was easier to use than Easel.ly, but when testing them out for the creation of my resume infographic, I found that the pre-made designs and graphics distracted me from my purpose and vision that I had in mind. For that reason, I used Google Drawings to create my class sample and InDesign for my resume infographic. Perhaps you could assign an investigation of sorts to your students and have them trial the three tools for homework.(It might prove useful as a teaching point when they bring in creations that are either all over the place or on point?) In class, they could then choose the tool they ‘clicked’ with best in order to create the assignment. I’ll let you know how it goes this week.
      ~Randi

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  2. Hi Randi,
    First of all I love that you are teaching some of these basic design principles to your middle school students, graphics and visuals are becoming more and more important so it’s good that we’re exposing students to this.
    My only concern is that you’re trying to do a lot of stuff with one project. I think your students will need quite a bit of direction along the way to make sure they don’t get lost. I’m coming at this from the perspective of a yearbook advisor and I’ve struggled every year to teach some of these basic design skills.
    I like your idea of looking at all the sketches and then coming up with a list of what everyone should include. My suggestion would be to do the same for the layout, if you’ve decided for example that you should include a picture and a name you could decide as a class where those should go and how big they should be. That way you can create a basic template that all students will follow and they can still be creative within the template by picking colors, fonts, …
    It’s not an easy choice to make, if you give students complete freedom you will have a few that look good but you’ll probably have quite a few that don’t look as good. On the other hand you’ll be limiting their creativity if you have them all work from the same template.
    Good luck, keep us posted on the results.

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    1. Thanks Rob! I’m sure you have a wealth of knowledge from your trials and tribulations with yearbook! The first lesson, where we looked at the elements of CARP, identified them on a sampling of infographics, and listed ‘must haves’ went really well – but you’re right, creating is a whole new beast! Their homework was to put in a background and their name (the first item on the list of must-haves), but I think from there I could use your idea and decide as a class (luckily there are only 8 students!) how we should design the lay out to fit our identified ‘must have’ elements.
      I’m finding that when creating my own infographic, using pictures to communicate can be so much harder because you are making a good guess at how your audience will ‘read’ or react to it; where with words, for the most part, what you say is what you say. The positive is that my struggles are directly feeding into my teaching!
      Thanks again for the feedback,
      Randi

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