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The importance of visual learning: infographics in the classroom

2013  |  


cabecera articulo infografias

We live immersed in a predominantly visual culture. In the different communication media, in the social networks, and in the different formats used to provide information for the public in general, we often come across attractive infographics which catch our attention. 





Infographics are visual diagrams with the fundamental aim of transmitting information, whether in the form of numbers or graphs, maps which show the spatial relations among different elements, flow charts or network diagrams which reflect the functional relations among the parts of a whole, or detailed descriptions of processes and procedures.

 The most important difference between an infographic and the mere numerical or graphical exposition of the data, is that infographics tell a story with a clearly informative as well as didactic purpose. On the one hand, they provide an attractive format for reading in which the text is supported by visually stimulating graphic elements and, on the other, they facilitate the understanding of the process or diagram described. We must remember that our brain is programmed to process the text in a lineal manner, where each letter constitutes a symbol which needs to be decoded, while images are processed immediately providing a much faster perception of the concepts. This characteristic promotes a rapid and wider dissemination of the information, an aspect which is highly valued nowadays in a digital society which is overloaded with information and is looking for quick and effective formulas for transmitting and exchanging knowledge.

The immediacy and visual effectiveness of infographics to transmit knowledge is precisely the aspect which makes it ideal for the classroom. Infographics are a resource which provides the teacher with variety and originality in the presentation of contents in the classroom. An attractive medium for the students in a jungle of data which can be easily assimilated and understood, and which promotes critical thinking, contributes to the organization of ideas and helps them to retain concepts and processes.

Let's see what steps are needed to create an effective infographic and the resources we need to have available:

claves infografiaefectiva

Image translation:

1 Designing a good infographic should start with a reflection on the the kind of knowledge, concept, idea or message you want to convey. We begin with an initial draft to organize the main ideas.

2 We will consider also the recipients of that message, because this will condition the degree of complexity of the information and graphics to be displayed and  the use or not of specific technical vocabulary.

3 Once  identified both the message and the recipients you should  select the graphic tools to convey the intended message.

4 We should also select the rhetorical tools that will help us to tell the story efficiently.

5 The infographic requires direct and synthetic headlines, the text block should be clear and concise. The source of information should be always stated. You'd better  include universal graphics to avoid confusion. 

6 We will create contrast and attract the reader's attention by creating contrast with the use color, alternating different fonts, graphics and combining volumes of similar textures.

Every infographic requires different graphical elements depending on the chosen contents and the type of message which we want to transmit. We can opt for the following types of infographics and make multiple combinations of them: 

Numerical and statistical information

This type of data should be presented in a clear and non-distorted fashion, the image should facilitate a correct interpretation and the source of the data should always be cited. There are several options, below we present the most usual ones:  


art info grafico tarta

Pie charts, which indicate the division of the parts of a whole and their proportions, are especially useful for showing percentages. We should avoid the presentation of numerous partitions as the resulting diagram could be confusing.



art info grafico lineas

Line graphs which are very useful for showing changes expressed by numbers over a concrete time period.




art info grafico barras

Bar charts, to represent a set of data or values and which are composed of rectangular bars (arranged vertically or horizontally) of lengths which are proportional to the values they represent. They are very useful for comparing two or more values.


art info grafico areaArea graphs, which are similar to line graphs in that they graphically represent one or several sets of data. They are especially useful for expressing the changes which occur among the different categories of data. 



art info grafico coordenadas

Coordinate graphs which permit the representation of relations and functions and make it possible to draw clear conclusions.




You may find the following free online resources interesting for creating this type of graphical designs in the classroom.


Create a graph

. Disfruta las matemáticas.com

. Infogr.am

.Google Public Data Explorer

.Google Charts

. Hohli



Maps are very useful as infographic resources to show the location of an event or the evolution of a phenomenon and its geographical dispersion.


infografía national geographic


Example of a map infograph. Image source: National Geographic.com.es Title: Elephant poaching Elephant poaching


Links to useful free resources for your infographic maps:


250 monumentos del mundo

Statsilk World bank Open Data




We can use tables to present descriptive data which are easier to visualize when we present them in columns than when we use a line graph or bar chart, for example to indicate timetables, distances, contrast different types of numerical data, etc.

grafico de tabla

Example of a table. Image source: Ranking.com

Representation of processes or description of events


These are especially useful when we want to show a process, an operation or the simple evolution of a phenomenon. They are also used to explain complex relations among different elements or even hierarchies. We can find from simple examples using a single Venn diagram to complex representations which require greater artistic and graphic design skills. 



Image source: MC Autor: Patrice Deré

You may find the following resources which include a type of free licence useful:



The introduction of new ICT tools and the need to increasingly visualize more and more data has given rise to new creative graphic ways of showing the information like bubble charts, scatter diagrams, Sankey diagrams which represent values which evolve and are distributed from a principal value, word clouds, silhouette graphics, which use images to represent data, even animated infographics which are nearer to art than information itself.

graficos de dispersion burbujas

Example of scatter diagram. Image source: : Google charts

infografía eclipse animada

Example of an animated infographic. Image source:  Título: eclipse solar

Whatever type we use, we should not forget the didactic purpose which is our concern in the classroom, which is to concentrate on the information, making the complex understandable by reducing, organizing and synthesising the data, trying to visually represent what we can, but always subordinating the design to the correct visualization of the contents. We should try to convert the learning into a story adapting the vocabulary and explanatory complexity according to the level of our students, focussing the contents on clear, accurate and reliable information based on facts and citing the sources of the information. 


There are numerous web 2.0 tools with some type of free licence which can help us to take our first steps in the world of infographics, like PiktochartEasel.ly. They provide a series of templates which are easy to edit with regard to typographic fonts, colours and graphic icons and basic shapes. In general they are very intuitive user friendly tools, in which the user creates the image using options like "drag and drop" on the work area. We wanted to try one of them, Piktochart to be precise, and to design an example of an infographic for the classroom. We are presenting below a brief tutorial so that you can learn how to use it:   

infografia consejos vida sana

By clicking on the following image you can see an enlarged example of the infographic which we have prepared for the primary school under the title of "Advice for a healthy life".




Infographics are a very useful resource for making eTwinning projects visually attractive. 


We can send the partner school a series of data collected by our students, and then they can mount the infographics, we can share the same account and then the students can negotiate the contents and the design of the infographic itself. They can also be used to relate the development process of the project and the conclusions reached, to show the result of the project evaluation using percentages and representing the positive and improvable aspects using graphical data. In short the possibilities are infinite, the only limit is your own imagination.







FaceBook-handwritten icon


We hope that this article has served to stimulate your interest in the use of this type of visual tools for the classroom and that you are motivated to try them. If you are, we would like to see your creative proposals and facilitate the exchange of this type of materials. So we are proposing the following. We invite you to form part of our eTwinning group in FACEBOOK and to upload an example of an infographic for the classroom based on any curricular contents for any educational level or area. We promise to copy the most creative proposals which arise and publish them in a future article on our web page. We are looking forward to sharing your ideas, and we are sure that you will surprise us.   


Image source for the title graphic and infographics: Photocompositions from the eTwinning National Support Service using free use images from Freepik, Iconspedia and Clipart-fr.   

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