HealthMarch 07, 2020

Create engaging classrooms using infographics

Using infographics as part of a course lecture, or integrated into an assignment, can help make information easier to understand and digest.

Lisa Shustack, EdD., MSN, MSEd., RN

A decade ago, the technology tools educators had access to were finite in number and limited by both cost and the need for a significant familiarity with how technology works. Today, the options available for educators are quite vast, including many user-friendly free internet applications. Having knowledge of some of these applications can help nurse educators transform stagnant, content-laden lectures into interactive, visually stimulating, learning experiences.

Using creative visual aids as part of a course lecture, or integrated into an assignment, can replace the monotony of PowerPoint and make information easier to understand and digest. Content-saturated courses in nursing education continue to present challenges for nursing educators. With information overload on the rise and dwindling attention spans among Generation Z college students, it is not a surprise that using visuals to help transfer information is also the preferred way of consuming information. Therefore, infographics have become an extremely popular way to share visual representations of data sets or major points related to a course lecture.

An infographic is a visual representation of content that is designed well, tells a good story, and is easy to understand. It gives the viewer a visual aspect of content in a manner that is easy and snackable. It provides small amounts of information, but when used together presents a complete picture. Consider how key topics of a course lecture could be aggregated together into a visual theme that would enable students to take a snapshot of a topic and easily store it to memory. Infographics created by students can encourage them to pull out the most important information from a textbook chapter and build a personal visualization of the material, stimulating individualized, deep learning. Creating these visual representations of content may seem technologically advanced, but with websites such as educators and students can create graphics that are clean, concise, and cohesive in a user-friendly format.

Using easelly to create infographics

Easelly provides an open framework for creating infographics online. It provides ample templates for users to choose from, including frequently-used themes which can be easily inserted into the graphic. The templates provide a starting point where educators can begin to build a customizable visualization of a topic. Users can add, delete, resize, and recolor symbols or texts on the blank canvas. Educators can also upload saved images specific to the content.

The site itself is easy to use; however, nurse educators who are interested in creating an infographic as an instructional tool do need to consider a few important elements prior to jumping in. First, it's important to determine what to share and how to represent it with the clearest images or phrases. This can be one of the most challenging aspects for nurse educators who may feel that if every element of a topic is not taught to a student, they will not learn. 

On the contrary, creating visually engaging representations of a topic may actually stimulate interest and student investigation of further information. Furthermore, extracting the most important content material to place on an infographic may help with long-term retention of material.

During the planning phase of using an infographic for educational purposes, keep in mind that an infographic is nothing more than another way to share information. The heart of it is the content that the creator wants to share with others. Educators who are content experts should spend the bulk of their time determining what information to present and considering the proper way to visualize it. This process is similar to creating an outline for lecture prior to class. Once the back-end work is complete, then the educator can log in to Easelly and create the project.

Benefits of using infographics in the classroom

Engaging Generation Z students in a content-saturated course presents a challenge for any educator. However, using stimulating visuals that pinpoint important information can reduce lecture time and allow for open discussion and the application of the content to real-world situations. Infographics also help to differentiate instruction in order to meet the learning needs of everyone in the classroom.

Here are some of the benefits of using infographics with Generation Z college students:

  • They can help students use critical thinking skills on a particular subject or a complex idea.
  • Infographics can assist students with prioritization and organization of ideas into a logical format.
  • Creating infographics can reach visual and kinesthetic learners, while stimulating retention of material.
  • Infographics allow students to demonstrate their mastery of content in ways other than objective testing.

Ideas for infographics

  • Create an infographic on a particular disease process. Instructors or students can create infographics to highlight the disease pathophysiology, most common signs and symptoms, treatments, and nursing care.
  • Create an infographic for individual medications. Create an infographic for an individual medication or a specific classification of medications will enable students to have digital flashcards to help with recall of information.
  • Create classroom “take-away” infographics. Assign one student per class to create a “œtake-away” infographic of the most important information covered during lecture. Print out the infographic and hang them around the classroom. At the beginning of class, have students engage in a “gallery walk-though” where they view each infographic, take notes, and then openly discuss.
  • Create infographics of clinical case studies. Many times, clinical instructors experience time constraints and are limited in the amount of time they get to spend talking about each clinical patient. Asking students to create an infographic on their assigned clinical patient would require the student to put all of the important pieces of the clinical picture together, enhancing critical thinking. Remaining in HIPAA compliance, students could then easily share the infographics with their fellow classmates during post-conference.
  • Conduct research. Have students conduct research on reputable websites for infographics such as the American Heart Association or the Centers for Disease Control on a disease or condition. Share the infographic with the class in order to analyze and discuss the most current information.

Sharing completed infographics

Completed projects can be shared online or saved offline. Easelly flattens the image and allows the users to download them as a JPG. The image can then be sent via email, posted to websites, or printed out and displayed. Infographics can also be linked to a QR Code that is placed on a PowerPoint or a course syllabus to engage students with additional information. You can easily embed codes into classroom blogs or share on class social media sites. For educators who are seeking new, creative, engaging, and fun ways to reach this new generation of tech-savvy learners, infographics make a great learning platform.

It is time for nurse educators to recognize and accept the type of learner Generation Z brings to the college classroom. Using traditional methods of lecture and teaching the way educators were taught is no longer suitable, as technology has rewired how digital natives learn. In order to remain relevant and achieve the best learning outcomes for our students, nurse educators need to continue on their quest of finding the best educational tools and teaching styles that coincide with how contemporary students learn.

Explore on nurse educators, explore on!

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