Weekly Teaching Note
Oct 23 2013
Visualizing Data When You're Not an Artist

"Infographics are graphic visual representations of information, data or knowledge intended to present complex information quickly and clearly. They can improve cognition by utilizing graphics to enhance the human visual system’s ability to see patterns and trends. The process of creating infographics can be referred to as data visualization, information design, or information architecture." Wikipedia, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Infographic

Have you ever had the opportunity to see some wonderful infographics, perhaps in the slides provided to you by your textbook publishers, in your disciplinary publications or even popular publications? You may have also heard about the value of using the “assertion-evidence” method for creating effective slides to accompany your presentations, which depends on using relevant infographics.

Wouldn't it be great if you could create infographics yourself for your classes? “Yes,” you say, “but I am not an artist or particularly talented at thinking of ways to visualize information.” Fortunately, there are a number of amazing, free Web 2.0 tools on the Internet these days to help.

Many of them have templates in which you can type or import your data so that visual infographics are created for you! The resulting info graphics can then be linked to from your PowerPoint slides or downloaded for importing into slides or Blackboard or ...

Other sites provide creation tools and templates that make it relatively easy to select and build your own infographics, without much visual talent or experience. And if you have more ideas than you know what to do with, these tools can save you time by providing an efficient way to create them.

Another possibility: give your students the option of presenting information in an infographic as opposed to a more typical chart or diagram.


To follow up on any of these ideas, please contact me at fglazer@nyit.edu. This Weekly Teaching Note was adapted from a contribution to the Teaching and Learning Writing Consortium organized by Seneca College and New York Institute of Technology.

Molly Baker, Ph.D.
Director, Instructional Technology Department
Sauk Valley Community College

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