3 Strategies to Create Infographics for the Art-Challenged

posted Mar 30, 2016, 12:11 PM by Miguel Guhlin   [ updated Mar 30, 2016, 1:55 PM ]
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Want to join the cool kids with infographics that spellbind and inform but afraid your art skills aren't up to snuff? Don't despair, read this blog entry for 3 strategies to creating infographics with quick, free tools, while "silencing your inner critic" for good measure!  I don't remember how it happened, what I was working on, but the "F" in Art on my kindergarten report card painted its own picture. And, that "painting" hangs on my mental wall of shame, a constant reminder that I am terrible at art.  In fact, we probably all need to be a little more conscious of grading policies that are letter-focused and their negative effect:
...if the purpose of academic grading is to communicate accurate and specific information about learning, letter, or points-based grades, are a woefully blunt and inadequate instrument. Worse, points-based grading undermines learning and creativity, rewards cheating, damages students' peer relationships and trust in their teachers, encourages students to avoid challenging work, and teaches students to value grades over knowledge. (Read More)
In that context, that is why the act of creating infographics can be stressful and frustrating--nothing you create will be good enough to meet the standards of your inner critic. That inner art critic may be saying any of the following to you:
  • You can't draw.
  • Stick figures will be as good as you ever get.
  • You don't know enough to make an infographic.
By taking action against the inner critic, you can silence that inner voice that stops you before you begin! But how DO you take action?

3 Strategies to Creating Info-Graphics

While chatting with Peggy Reimers (Director of Professional Development) during a TCEA Lunch & Learn (available only to TCEA members), she made the following recommendations and I have followed each strategy with some reflection and ideas from the Lunch & Learn chat:

Strategy 1: Voice & Choice

Voice and choice are powerful motivators. Just thinking about the TCEA Area 20 supported events, like #edcampsa, and it's easy to see why it has grown so popular--conference attendees have voice and choice about the sessions in this "unconference" conference. In fact, when planning the TECSIG Spring Meeting, having a portion of the day be an unconference immediately stirred people's creativity. That sense of ownership can be quite beneficial when designing infographics, whether alone or as part of a team!
[caption id="" align="alignnone" width="320"] #edcampsa - Participants identifying session topics[/caption]
When creating an infographic, voice and choice may manifest as you having a say about what information you are sharing, finding a way that uniquely expresses who you are and intersects with the content. As an infographic creator, do not forget to ask yourself, "What could I create that would make this more helpful to viewers?" To do that, I ask myself, "In each of my respective roles as a teacher, administrator, parent, how could I make an infographic that answers my questions and meets my needs? Once you have overcome your fear, consider using a site like Daily Infographic as inspiration...not for examples that you may never be able to replicate ("Be silent, inner critic! Silent!"), but for examples of design elements you can incorporate into your own creations.

Did You Know? TCEA Lunch and Learn webinars are FREE for TCEA Members and membership is only $49 a year! Wow! And, you get access to LOTS of resources that might take you days to find via your favorite professional learning network! And, reflecting on building your PLN, have you considered adding these accounts to those you follow on Twitter? @preimers, @diben, @drbruceellis, @mguhlin and, of course, @TCEA ?

Strategy 2: Start with a specific topic

Starting with a specific topic, the more specific the better, you are able to shed the vague unease of creation. It enables you to carefully select what would be most helpful and engaging. This is useful because of information-overload, it may be hard to make sense of it all. One of the ways I narrow in on a topic is to make a semantic web, or concept map (spider map). This is a relatively simple approach that makes it easy to focus on key concepts, information and data. And, while I may not use all the data in one creation, I can still develop it in another.

Strategy 3: Use easy tools

In Peggy's presentation at the TCEA Lunch & Learn held on March 30, 2016, several TCEA members shared some of their "go to" infographic creation tools. For example, Casey Phelps recommended PiktoChart--which Laura Howard said World Geography students in her district also employ--and Infog.ram for use with students and staff. Smore was another easy tool Casey recommended, saying, "We use Smore as our Instructional Technology newsletter for our staff! On Smore, multiple users can collaborate... they just have to be signed in using the same account."  Others suggested Canva iPad app, and especially their infographics site. And, finally, for overcoming your inner critic when it comes to infographics, Alison Berquette suggested beginning with Thinglink to start. Combining PiktoChart (used to create the infographic) and Thinglink (add interactivity for web posts) can extend the reach and usability of your new creation!

References

Infographic. Average Temperature of Six Major Deserts. Created with Infog.ram
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