I don’t remember how it happened or 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 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:
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?
Three Strategies to Creating Infographics
While chatting with Peggy Reimers (Director of Professional Development) during aTCEA Lunch and Learn (free weekly webinars available only to TCEA members), she made the following recommendations. I have followed each strategy with some reflection and ideas from the Lunch and Learn chat:
Strategy 1: Voice and Choice
Voice and choice are powerful motivators. That sense of ownership can be quite beneficial when designing infographics, whether alone or as part of a team.
When creating an infographic, voice and choice may manifest as 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. And some might find this rubric for digital infographics helpful.
Did You Know?
TCEA Lunch and Learn webinars (there are other webinars that you can sign up for, too) 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. This limitation actually enables you to carefully select what would be most helpful and engaging and avoid information overload. One way to narrow 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 and Learn, several TCEA members shared some of their “go to” infographic creation tools. For example, Casey Phelps recommended PiktoChart (which Laura Howard [Twitter @saisdtechtrain; San Angelo ISD; read her blog] said World Geography students in her district also employ) andInfog.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 the 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. Combining PiktoChart (used to create the infographic) and Thinglink (add interactivity for web posts) can extend the reach and usability of your new creation. Another supportive infographic tool is Easel.ly, which I have used to create some of my first infographics. It features, as most of these tools do, templates and clip art that make it easy for the art-challenged to spruce up words and numbers.