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Infographics: types and methods of use in eLearning courses

Everything you need to know about the use of infographics in eLearning: main formats, when to use them and how to make them didactically effective.

Most people learn visually (read also " Learning styles: how do learners learn?"). With this in mind, infographics prove to be very effective in educational contexts because they use images to highlight, explain or enhance textual information. When done well, infographics have the unique ability to capture attention and break down complex information into easy-to-understand components, facilitating retention. For these reasons, infographics are great tools for conveying content within an online course.

In this article, we will illustrate:

What are infographics?

An infographic is a representation of information in a graphical, visual format designed to make data easy to understand at a glance. Infographics allow you to scan, assimilate and retain information quickly and instantly. 
To see some examples, check out our collection of Infographics on eLearning.

Why use infographics in an online course?

Since most people learn visually, infographics can make remote learning more effective and fun. They in fact:

  • are visually appealing
  • draw attention to a specific element and help eliminate irrelevant information
  • suggest analogies and comparisons between pieces of information
  • help students to organize information logically
  • support understanding of difficult concepts

Types of infographics for eLearning 

There are different formats of infographics, each suited for specific purposes and content. Below we'll walk you through the main types of infographics and when to use them within an online course.

Statistical infographics
Statistics can say a lot about a topic, but figures alone do not always make for the most compelling reading material. 
With this in mind, statistical infographics allow you to add graphs and short text explanations that help make a string of numbers much easier to understand and remember. 

Comparison infographics
Comparison infographics allow you to highlight similarities and differences and are excellent tools for effectively comparing two or more products or concepts.
They generally include readily understandable charts, graphs and pictographs or side-by-side lists of similar data.

Temporal infographics
Temporal infographics (or timelines) consist of a timeline that highlights key events during a specific period. This type of infographic helps students understand how events connect and affect each other or, more simply, memorize dates or stages of a specific topic.

Process Infographics
Process infographics allow you to break down complex processes into simpler components, summarize essential steps, and visually represent them in sequence for easier understanding. For example, they can be used to describe the operation of a piece of equipment or the assembly line of a manufacturing unit.

Informative infographics
Informational infographics are particularly useful for providing an overview of a specific topic. Typically, an informational infographic is divided into sections with descriptive headings (often numbered) and illustrative icons.

Geographic infographics
This type of infographic uses maps as the main visual element and is particularly effective for representing information based on location or demographics. Maps can also be used as a background against which to project additional graphics, bulleted lists, and specific measurements.

Hierarchical infographics
Hierarchical infographics organize information into predefined levels and are particularly effective for showing how information is organized into different levels and how these levels are connected. Generally, these infographics use pyramid charts or flowcharts.

List infographics
This type of infographic allows you to organize information into a graphically appealing list. They can be used to share a collection of tips or examples. Just because the content is a list, it doesn't mean you have to use a basic top-down layout. In fact, there are several creative ways to display the items in a list: S-shaped layouts, circular layouts, etc.

When not to use infographics

Infographics are visually very beautiful, but they require time and resources to be made in the best possible way. Therefore, we advise you not to create an infographic just because it's trendy: you'd risk producing low-quality content that doesn't bring any results. Also, avoid using infographics when you can use simpler graphics: if a graph or a pie chart is enough from an educational point of view, avoid creating challenging and redundant infographics.  

How to make infographics educationally effective

1. Choose the right infographic according to the content
As we've seen, there are different types of infographics, each suited to different content and objectives. Choose the one that best suits your purpose and allows you to show all the relevant data in the clearest and most complete way.

2. Be as visual as possible
Try to turn your data into visual elements and limit the use of words whenever possible. Be concise and choose colors, icons, graphics, backgrounds, images, symbols, etc. carefully.  Use lines, borders and shapes to group related information together.

3. Guide the reader through a logical hierarchy
Sort your content logically and draw the reader in with exciting titles and subtitles. To do this, make sure they are short and descriptive. 

4. Highlight the most important information
Infographics give you the opportunity to showcase a wealth of information. Make sure the main information doesn't get lost in a maze of colors and icons. Infographics are easier to read if they contain little text. 

5. Introduce the topic
Provide a short two- or three-sentence introduction that introduces the topic and provides context for the content.

6. Include a conclusion
Provide people with a conclusion to summarize useful information and highlight key elements of the infographic.

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