“What exactly is an infographic?” is a question that I was asked many times in the last year or two. Sometimes I even asked myself the question as I attempted to wrap my head around exactly what it was that separated an Infographic from a graph with a text description. The common definition these days is that it’s a representation of information using a combination of graphics, statistics and descriptions. Infographics have numerous practical applications in a teaching and learning format, where they can be used to demonstrate complex ideas in an easy on the eyes format. Literature and evidence is in plentiful supply that illustrates the effectiveness of using more than one medium (through text, images, sound, video etc) to capture student attention whether online or face-to-face (Here is a paper on multimodal learning from QLD, Australia), and Infographics (done well) can hit the sweet spot of images+stats+words+colours = learning!
There are various resources available online which provide examples of Infographics that I recommend you check out to see what is possible. (note: As a starting point, visit TheNextWeb and have a perve at some of their groovy examples. Their descriptions are also a useful starting point for thinking about how, when and where you might like to use them in your own teaching. If you’d like to read up a little more on Infographics generally, check out Infographics: The Visual Power of Storytelling by Jason Lankow and Josh Ritchie, which is heavily cited in Academic circles and receives excellent ratings from readers.)
History and context lesson aside, I’m assuming you’re here because you already know what Infographics are and just want me to get to the bit where I tell you what tool you can use to make them yourself with minimal graphical design expertise, time or money.
Canva is the tool you are looking for.
Canva is based on the web, and can be used across multiple platforms – and best of all, it’s free! All that is required is a very basic knowledge of computers and the web, how to drag and drop things on a page, what you like to look at, a few factoids, and a willingness to experiment.
The website claims that the program can be learned in 23 seconds…I would say that is a slight exaggeration, but not by much. The Infographic I created in this post took 5 minutes using a pre-loaded template that I modified a little. What was the hold up? I attempted to publish my design, only to be told it was going to cost a dollar to include some boxes. I had trouble finding the part of the design that had a cost associated with it as it was not exactly signposted. The suspicious ones out there will say – “aha! there is the catch – it does actually cost money!” (to be honest, i’m one of those people too). And it’s true, creating a design using Canva can cost money, but it’s entirely possible to just use the free templates and images the software provides to create good-looking and engaging Infographics. Once I figured out the part of the template I used that wasn’t free, I just clicked on the offending section and deleted it (my original design had some boxes around cameronmurray.asia – not exactly missed in the final product). It should be noted that Canva makes its money from selling additional images from its library, but you’ll find the majority of your needs will be completely, and utterly, free. The best things in life…. (are Canva). If you’re not too sure how to get started, Canva has published a series of tutorials online that you can use. Super easy! Let me know how you go!
Have some Canva experiences that you’d like to share? Pop a comment below and let me know what you think – even if you hated it!