October 4th, 2018 E-Learning

Looking for creative ways to illustrate course content? Try these infographic types.

We all know how valuable and popular infographics are with teachers and students alike. But when it comes to creating them for their own course, many instructors struggle to find good inspiration for their infographics. For some, it’s a simple matter of being more oriented toward words or numbers rather than graphics, but for others, the challenge lies in knowing what kind of information lends itself toward presentation as an infographic.

If you are eager to try infographics in your own course, here are eight common types of infographics to give you inspiration.

1. Lists

Lists are some of the most popular types of infographics out there. They’re easy to write and relatively easy to visualize. All you need is a topic, an image or symbol for each item on the list, and the arrangement practically lays itself out.

Furthermore, lists are naturally helpful for many learners to remember. It relieves a memory burden by letting us know how many concepts we have to keep track of. And the number itself can give us a sense for how important those items are. Is the list three items long? Those must be three important things to know. A hundred items long? Wow, what a treasure trove of information!

People like lists. Use that to your advantage.

2. Timelines

I remember seeing a timeline in eighth grade that completely changed my perception of history. It lined up the events of the American Revolution in the 1770’s with those of the French Revolution twenty years later. Prior to that moment, American and European history were completely distinct areas of study. Once I saw them lined up together, something clicked, and my interest in history skyrocketed.

Timelines are important because they place information into context. They show when events happened in relation to other events, both in a sequence and in the world at large. So, for instance, if you’re teaching a course about changes in mobile technology, it’s relevant to know when iPhones were first released, and how quickly other smartphone technology developments followed.

3. Geographical or Map-Based Infographics

Most of the maps we see today represent national borders, but as infographics, they can show a lot more. You’ve probably seen maps that focus on geographical terrain, the distribution of natural resources, historical migration patterns, or the prevalence of different language groups. Maps are also a great way to show consumer trends, or regional profiles.

So, if you run a course that involves geographic information, think of how you could show it using a map. It will likely be much more effective than merely writing it out.

4. Comparisons

Infographics are a natural place to show comparisons, because they make it easy to align similar information next to each other. Whether it be comparing the pros and cons of an item or decision, an X vs. Y post comparing two items against each other, or a visual representation of grades in a pricing plan, comparisons are a flexible infographic for almost any situation.

5. Statistics and Visualizations

Statistics can provide powerful proof points to backup material in your lessons and help learners quantify abstract concepts. An infographic creates a quick reference guide for learners by keeping some of the most important numbers close to hand.

Creating visualizations for your numbers is even more helpful. Whether it be a pie chart, a graph, or a map, your learners will have an easier time absorbing complex information when it is presented as a thoughtful visual aid.

6. Anatomical Infographics

You’re probably used to seeing anatomy drawings labeling different parts of the body, but have you ever thought of those as infographics? What about illustrations of machine parts, or some other manufactured good? Infographics of this nature break down the components of a complex machine or organism to help learners see how they function.

7. Process or “How-To” guides

Need to show someone how to do something? You can’t go wrong with a “how-to” graphic. These guides are helpful walk-throughs, showing every step of a process with illustrations to help prevent mistakes.

These kinds of infographics are especially popular on social platforms such as Pinterest, because they have a way of making anything seem possible. If you can spell out the steps with matching illustrations, who can’t follow along?

8. Flowcharts and Decision Guides

If you’ve tried scenario-based learning, you’re probably already used to mapping flowcharts for your learners’ decision trees. Once you work through a scenario with your learners, however, it can be useful to sum up the lesson through a flowchart infographic. You can even design these to be used as print outs or posters, so learners can have them readily available when handling that kid of situation.

A variety of infographics will help learners retain information.

Don’t feel you have to restrict yourself to just one kind of infographic. In fact, most courses can benefit from a broad variety—including ones not mentioned here. So long as the information is relevant to the material in your course, it’s hard to go wrong.

Also, remember that infographics are popular on social media and as downloadable content. While you should use them wisely in your course, they also make for valuable marketing material. Get the most out of your infographics by sharing them in your email newsletters, on your blog, and on social content platforms. A well-designed infographic could even land you your next sale.

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2 responses

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Great, concrete suggestions Laura; thanks! Each one you mentioned has lots of possibilities. I read Dan Roam’s Book – “Back of the Napkin” – and he talks about how talking in pictures is so natural for us – even more so than speaking in words. I like it!

Thanks, Doug! Glad you found it helpful! Hope you can find ways to use some of them in your own course.

Avatar Laura Lynch

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