I got sent a link to a great infographic: http://www.onlineuniversities.com/digital-classroom. It’s a visual representation of the battle between e-books and real books, using icons, clever layout and simple, pithy text to get it’s point across. It engaged me, captured my imagination and taught me something. All in all, that’s pretty good going.
Infographics are visual representations of data or knowledge that, when done well, make it easier to consume. They tend to present a narrative through the data, an overlay of a story. Not only can they make the messages clearer, they tend to look good too. But only if they are done well!
There is no doubt that we are seeing a shift towards more audio visual media for the consumption of learning. Infographics sit nicely within this mix. It’s certainly more friendly to view one on an iPad than it is to wade through a page of text, although good presentation can’t make up for poor analysis or data collection to begin with. Just making things look nice doesn’t make them right.
Despite any reservations about the validity of underlying data, and how they are built, it’s worth looking for some good examples of where infographics have been used, almost worth building a scrapbook of the ones that we like.
It’s a comparatively quick, cheap and flexible addition to our armoury of presentational techniques. It can make learning feel easy and much more alive. I suppose you can argue that an infographic isn’t really a picture, as they tend to have a lot of words too, so whilst a picture may be worth a thousand words, an infographic may only be worth 500, but it’s a start.