In a world where people struggle with too much information, infographics are fast becoming a powerful learning tool. Despite the continued rise of infographics, little research specifies how educators can take advantage of this emerging tool. The power of infographics lies in the fact that they deliver large amounts of data clearly and quickly.
Infographics continue to spark interest in various educational fields making it difficult for instructors to ignore. This study therefore intends to showcase the benefits and usage of infographics as a learning tool in higher education classrooms.
A picture can portray a thousand words as it is often said (Barnard,1921). More often, people check and scan for headlines or graphics that catch their interest. The consequence of checking and scanning for headlines is that important information can easily be discarded, missed or go unnoticed. Infographics refers to or can be seen as a graphical and visual representation of information, data or knowledge for interpreting, translating and integrating difficult information quickly and effectively (Newsom & Haynes, 2004; Smiciklas, 2012). Infographics improves user understanding by utilizing graphics to enhance the tendency of the human visual system to see patterns and trends (Card, 2009).
The goal of visualization is to relate data or information more clearly and quickly by using graphical means (İnan & Dur, 2012). In the business, social and design world, infographics have become the easy technique for passing on useful information to an audience.
STATEMENT OF THE RESEARCH PROBLEM
The problem that gives rise to this research is that there is lack of sufficient and current information about how infographics can boost learning and knowledge retention in the classroom. In addition, there is a weakness in the extent to which educators and instructors are informed about the benefits and usage of infographics in teaching educational technology as a course and other advanced courses. This study intends to research ways of improving the usage of infographics in institutions of higher learning. Specifically, this study aims at highlighting the benefits of using infographics in teaching educational technology as a course.
PURPOSE OF THE STUDY
The study will determine the infographic tools that can trigger learning.
This study also aims to ascertain the benefits of infographics to students in educational technology and students in institutions of higher learning. Finally, this study will shed light on the areas of infographics that students find interesting.
NEED FOR THE STUDY
This study will provide insights for educators and instructors who are unaware of the extent to which infographics can boost learning and enhance retention of data amongst learners. This study will provide information to educators, instructors and faculty who lack the expertise on how to access and use infographic tools in teaching students especially in higher institutions.
With the significance of infographics for learning and lack of sufficient research on how we can take advantage of this powerful tool, this study explores the benefits of infographics and sheds light on the infographic tools that can boost learning. To explore the benefits of infographics and the infographic tools that trigger learning in the classroom, we intend to provide answers to the following research questions;
1. What tools can trigger learning in infographics?
2. What tools interest students in infographics usage?
3. What are students’ fears on the usage of infographic tools?
ASSUMPTIONS OF THE STUDY
It is assumed that students will complete the pre-experience and post-experience surveys honestly.
It is also assumed that the case study research design is valid and reliable.
DELIMITATION OF THE STUDY
The delimitations of this study include;
- This sample was drawn from only one university that offered the educational technology program.
- This study involves only undergraduate students in the program. Graduate students will not be used.
LIMITATION OF THE STUDY
This study is limited by the low proportion of students enrolled in the Educational Technology program at the university selected in Texas for this study.
STRUCTURE OF THE STUDY
Chapter 1 – The introduction provides a background and overview of the use of infographics in educational technology. Chapter 1 consist of abstract, statement of the research problem, purpose of the study, research questions, need of the study and limitations of the study.
Chapter 2 – The literature review highlights the power of infographics, types of infographics and how schools use infographics. It also analyses the theoretical frameworks in infographics. The visual communication theory coined by John Debes was assessed alongside the dual coding theory.
THE POWER OF INFOGRAPHICS
Studies have shown that vision is our most powerful sense. John Medina (2008) described how vision outperforms all other senses because human memory is evolutionarily wired to understand images. Medina argued that our vision is the best single tool we have for learning. Early studies show that people can remember thousands of pictures after seeing the pictures for just seconds or a minute (Zull, 2002). Visuals can also assist with cognitive processing by providing a context or metaphor. As a result, visuals have the tendency to be an efficient, quick and clear way to communicate than oral and text alone. Visuals often help people understand abstract and complex information, especially when people are not used to the concept and lack a pre-existing mental model to assist with the comprehension of new information. Human beings are all visual learners. Because visuals vary in their intent and aesthetic value, the effectiveness of a visual such as an infographic is seen by how well it achieves its desired goal, how easy it is to review, and how pleasing it is to view.
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Good visuals apply visual organization and structure to reflect relationships, describe how parts of a whole interact, and reveal an underlying story. Duarte (2008) described some types of visual representations that are useful in relating content to people. Visual representations – especially when used together as building blocks for communication – can help convey abstract ideas and complex content that would otherwise require a lengthy narrative.
Infographics are becoming a well-known approach for presenting content in a visual way. Despite this increased popularity, infographics are not a novel concept and has always been in existence. Data visualization has been in place for centuries in the form of maps and other illustrations (Marcel, 2014). Infographics can be an effective visual approach to relaying information and supporting conceptual understanding because humans see with their memory (Oetting, 2015; Smiciklas, 2012). The extent to which the visual input is, the more likely the visual will be recognized and recalled, thus making visual a strong tool for gaining knowledge (Medina, 2008). A couple of learning and message design theories are in favour of this idea. For instance, Nelson’s picture superiority theory discusses how people gain knowledge of concepts more easily when they look at pictures than by reading text alone because the human memory is essentially hard-wired for visuals – the imagination of the visual cortex provides easy access to human consciousness (Clark & Mayer, 2011).
TYPES OF INFOGRAPHICS
Infographics can be classified based on usability as outlined below;
• Statistical Based Infographics
Statistical based infographics make use of diagrams, charts, graphs, tables, and lists. The most common statistical infographics are horizontal bar charts, vertical column charts, and round or oval pie charts that can review statistical information. These types of infographics show how a system works, lines of authorization of the company, shows sequential association. It can be made in interactive manner as well.
• Timeline Based Infographics
Timeline based infographics is used to show sequence of events according to the time each event occurred. A timeline enables an audience to realize chronological relationships very quickly. Sometimes it is showed in tabular or year-by-year formats.
• Process Based Infographics
Process based infographics follow a single flow and are typically accompanied with directional cues like arrows and numbers. A process-based infographic is similar to a timeline infographic. Scholars have, however, a major difference between the two. Unlike timelines, processes do not depend on the progression of time. They focus on the actual events instead of when they occur.
• Location or Geography Based Infographics
Location based infographics make it easy to share information tied to geological locations. If an individual or a business have geographical data it wants to visualize, the location-based infographic would best meet this need.
• Comparison Based Infographics
Comparison infographics are used for comparisons. They compare and contrast two different “things” or “types” of information (objects, brands, places, categories, versions, theories, etc.). This type of infographic can highlight the differences or similarities, and the pros and cons of a set of information and serve as a guide for choosing between two different options.
INFOGRAPHICS IN EDUCATION
Teachers can use infographics to engage students and stimulate learning. However, many educators steer clear of infographics because they don’t know how to make one and they are afraid it won’t make any sense. No fear! Easel.ly takes care of that. They provide templates to start with, their tools and professional images make creating a professional infographic a breeze. In fact, it’s so simple that students in elementary school can use it. It’s as simple to use as a word document or power point and the benefits are so much more dramatic. Infographics used in education are derived from;
• Existing infographics
• Students creating their own infographic
HOW SCHOOLS USE INFOGRAPHICS
School librarians and other educators use infographics as both instructional supports and assessment tools. They use infographics in the following ways;
- Using Infographics in Instruction
Instructors and tutors argue that their students learn best when presented with data in several formats, so making use of infographics tools can make teaching materials more accessible to students. Infographics can be included in a class syllabus, handouts and test review.
Librarians can assist instructors in all curriculum areas to add infographics into their instruction methods. For example, history instructors can make timelines of important events, math teachers can utilize infographics to portray complex formulas, and science instructors can make infographics to teach processes such as photosynthesis or lab safety procedures. Finally, arts and english language teachers can use infographics to help students remember literary devices and figurative language.
- Using Infographics in Assessment
Generating infographics is an innovative way for students to demonstrate knowledge of a concept. This breaks away from the traditional essay and PowerPoint method of presentation and requires more skill. By requiring learners to make infographics, students must employ their organizational, creative, and analytical abilities. They need to understand the information in order to present it accurately. They also need to consider their audience and ensure the graphic conveys their research accurately.
- Using Infographics in managing classrooms
Instructors can limit the amount of time they have to deal with undesirable classroom manners and time-consuming processes by creating infographics that provide detailed instructions about handling issues in the classroom. Routines such as how to submit work on Google Drive, or any other circumstances that usually arise can be handled more appropriately by students with the use of an instructional infographic.
- Using Infographics to Promote School Library Resources
Infographics can help students quickly learn the library’s rules and procedures. It can show students how to access library databases, conduct Boolean searches or find relevant books using your library’s call numbers. (Here’s a sample infographic of the Dewey Decimal System.) Schools create infographics that communicate statistics about your library, such as the size of your library collection or top books circulated.
- Using infographics for Inquiry-Based Learning
Inquiry-based learning is allows students to learn through investigation. Instructors can accomplish this task in a variety of ways such as asking questions and providing factual scenarios about specific topics or issues.
Visual Communication Theory
Visual communication theory was coined by John Debes in 1969. He discovered the International Visual Literacy Association:
“Visual Literacy can be seen as a group of vision-competencies thatna human being can develop by seeing and integrating other sensory experiences. These competencies are fundamental to human learning. When developed, they make a visually literate person to interpret the visible actions, symbols and objects that he encounters in his environment. As a result of the creative use of these competencies, he is able to relate with others, comprehend and enjoy the masterworks of visual communication.” – John Debes, 1969
Dual Coding Theory
Pavio’s (1971) dual coding theory states that when people see an image, they encode the data with a verbal code and an image code. From an instructional standpoint, infographics has the capacity to support attention, produce aesthetically appealing artifacts, build and activate schema by using information and objects known to students and learners (Clark & Lyons, 2010). In an educational environment, effective infographics are used as job aids, advance organizers, content summaries, and study tools. A strong infographic communicates the essence or fundamentals of a message without requiring someone to read the associated text thoroughly (Ware, 2012); a viewer can ascertain the subject of an infographic when it is seen at first glance. Infographics are mostly utilized when tables, charts, or text alone cannot relay a clear, complete message.
This chapter provides a description of the research design, sample, population, instrumentation and collection procedures.
The case study research design is ideal and will be used for this study. This will help the researcher get an understanding of the situation and provide meaning for the participants involved. The mixed-methods approach will also be used for this research to provide richness and depth to each case description. Since this is a qualitative research, the case study research design is ideal.
The population for this study will be undergraduate students in educational technology at The University of Texas. The criteria for selecting the university is based on accessibility and student characteristics.
PARTICIPANTS AND SAMPLE
Participants in this study will consist of 35 college students (millennials). They will be selected from a larger pool of students in a class who were enrolled in a mid-sized, public, four-year regional university in Texas, United States. The research team will contact the students via e-mail provided by the university and invited them to complete a survey aimed at ascertaining their perception on infographic tools.
The primary source of data collection that will be used for this case study design will be pre-experience and post-experience surveys. The surveys will contain demographic, multiple choice and open-ended questions. Participants will be asked to complete a presurvey as the semester begins, at the end of the semester the same participants will be asked to participate in a reflection focused on the infographic tool they decided to use and their perceptions of the benefits and challenges of creating infographics.
This study will be done at The University of Texas at Tyler. The University is a public university located in Texas, United States. One of the comforts we have for using this university is that it is part of The University of Texas system and consists of five professional colleges that offers more than 90 degree programs at undergraduate and graduate levels. Another characteristics that made The University of Texas at Tyler suitable for this study is that it is accredited and approved by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools making it suitable for this research.
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