Using Infographics in the Classroom to Differentiate Instruction

 I have another article out for the Yellin Center.  This time I dig into how to use infographics in the classroom to differentiate your instruction and meet the core mandates of Universal Design for Learning. Below you will find my article where I discuss a few excellent, easy to use resources for making infographics.  Happy Learning!

Using Infographics in the Classroom

One of the major principals of Universal Design for Learning is multiple means of expression. The underlying idea of this mandate is that students should be allowed to express their learning in multiple ways, particularly through their personal areas of strength. Traditional classroom environments rely heavily on students demonstrating their learning through written expression in the form of papers, oral communication during presentations, or test taking skills. However, there are a variety of ways for students to showcase their learning. For example, a student could draw a picture, create a photo essay, or devise a song. One new medium that media outlets and businesses have been using to synthesize, display, and share information is infographics. Doug Newsom and Jim Haynes (2004) define an infographic as “a graphic visual representation of information, data or knowledge intended to present information quickly and clearly”.

With infographics becoming popular, there are now a variety of child-friendly tools that enable students to create their own visually pleasing, graphic representations of their learning. The following tools are a few of the resources available for creating infographics:

Easel.ly

Easel.ly describes itself as “a website that features thousands of free infographic templates and design objects which users can customize to create and share their visual ideas online.” The big merit of Easel.ly is that it is incredibly user friendly. The website allows students to drag and drop images and input their own text and information to create robust visual representations of the concepts they are learning in class. Don’t just take our word for it. Easel.ly also received the Best Websites for Teaching and Learning Award in 2013 from the American Association of School Librarians (AASL) – and it’s free!

Infogr.am

Infogr.am allows students to input information and data into the site and then organize it into a visual, infographic, or chart. This tool would be especially useful in mathematics classrooms during a unit on data analysis and graphing. Infogr.am is a subscription-based tool. However, its reach extends beyond the classrooms as it also has the capacity to be used by teachers and administrators for professional development purposes or reporting student performance data.

Piktochart

Piktochart has the potential to be more complex than the aforementioned tools, as the scope of this program extends well beyond classroom usage. Piktochart was created as a way for non-graphic designers to build high quality, engaging infographics.  As a result, a teacher may elect to use this resource only with older grades or tech savvy students. Although more intricate, Piktochart is still incredibly user friendly. Students are able to create high quality infographics and presentations using a variety of templates and embedded high-res images.

References
Doug Newsom and Jim Haynes (2004). Public Relations Writing: Form and Style. p.236.

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