During the last several years I have noticed a change in how I obtain statistical information. As a child and a young adult when I read statistical information I would struggle to figure out what the data were telling me. Paragraphs on analysis didn’t help. But viewing the information in a graph format made it easier. Then again I can only look at so many bar graphs and pie charts before I get bored and start confusing one set of statistics with another.
A few years ago I noticed that media outlets were starting to present information more in colorful pictures with a theme representative of the subject. I later learned that they were called infographics. I found these bright images to be engaging and helped to make data more memorable and interesting. I also found that my ability to retain data improved because I was able to associate a picture or an image with the data. The video below explains some of the science of why they work so well.
I know my students will come across a lot of data in their lives. Data and statistics are everywhere and it is always a struggle to help students understand the information that they come across. Kathy Schrock has a wonderful video that not only demonstrates how teachers use infographics but also provides suggestions for how to get students to create their own.
I love infographics personally, but I have struggled using them in the classroom. The overall quality and difficulty level in the language used on the infographics ranges widely (link to two). However, I am thinking of using this infographic. As this graph uses a combination of powerful images that relate to the facts written below them. I also like this infographic as is it highlights two sides to the issue of hydropower. While a lot of people think that hydropower is great and should be used more, they do not necessarily think about the changes that are necessary to the local habitat.
To introduce the graphic I will ask the students to look at it at home and write down any thoughts that they have about it. This will allow them time the opportunity to thoroughly analyze the image. Once the students arrive in class we will look at the information together and analyze the information. This will lead to a discussion and debate on hydroelectric power and whether or not it is good for the environment.
Video and Image Credits
The Power of Data Visualization by Column Five, found on Vimeo
The Belo Monte Dam in Brazil by GDS Inforgraphics, found on Flickr, Creative Commons Licensed