3 Ways You Can Use Infographics to Encourage Student Collaboration in Active Learning Classrooms
The first day (or week) of class usually involves introductions. You introduce yourself to your students. Your students introduce themselves to you. And, your students introduce themselves to each other.
It’s an important part of building community in your classroom and creating a safe and trusted space for students to share ideas, ask questions, and collaborate - all very important for successful flipped classrooms and active learning environments.
It’s also the perfect time to introduce an active learning strategy. The first day of class is one of those moments in the course when it’s worth the time, effort, and energy to create an activity that increases student engagement.
You want to involve students on the first day and give them a glimpse of what to expect throughout the rest of the semester. If you expect them to participate in class and contribute ideas to the discussions, then do it on the first day. This will set the tone for the upcoming semester.
Why Use Infographics in Active Learning Environments?
Instead of just going around the room and asking everyone to introduce themselves, give your students the opportunity to CREATE something.
This makes the process of introductions more memorable, fun, and engaging. Unlike name tags or name tents, infographics give students the opportunity to share more information and make a meaningful connection with other students.
Infographics are designed to convey information in visual formats. They are flexible, adaptable, and easy to create. You can integrate data, text, pictures, timelines, graphs, icons, logos, quotes, social media, etc.
The process of designing an infographic can also encourage creativity and promote more discussion and sharing. Students can infuse humor, show off their artistic talents, or create a “theme” based on their favorite sports team, movie, or colors.
Infographics are easily shareable in online and face-to-face learning environments. Students can post them in discussion forums or on social media to promote more connection and engagement. And, you can get involved too by creating an infographic for yourself!
Here are 3 Types of Infographics You Can Use to Encourage Students to Meet and Prepare for Collaboration:
1. “Meet Our Group” Infographic:If your students will be engaging in group work throughout the semester, ask them to create an infographic for their group. They could include the picture, name, and contact information for each group member.
They could post responses to a series of questions such as: What strengths do the members of the group bring to the project? What questions does the group have about the course content, their project, or course policies related to group work? What do they think will be their biggest challenge as a group?
Give the groups time to create their infographic in class or within the first week of class. Then, allow time for students to present it in class or share it with other groups.
Bonus: This is a good practice or "low stakes" assignment to see how the group will divide tasks, work together, resolve conflicts, listen to each other’s input, etc. You may want to debrief the process so the group members can see how to make adjustments and work together more effectively.
2. “Our Group Policies” Infographic:
After groups are formed and have had time to discuss the group assignment, you may want to encourage groups to create an infographic about their group management policies. They can set rules about how often they should meet, what to do if someone misses a meeting, or how their group project will be delegated among the group members.
You may need to help them structure this document to ensure their rules are fair and everyone understands what will happen when group policies are not followed. Encourage groups to share their policies with each other to promote communication and help hold everyone accountable for being a successful contributor.
3. “About Me” Infographic:
If you prefer, you can encourage students to create an “about me” infographic instead of a group infographic. This works well in a small course where all of the students may need to get to know each other. It could also be a way for individuals in a group to introduce themselves before they create a group infographic or begin working on a group project together.
Bonus: Prepare one for yourself and share it with your students so they can meet you too!
Ready to start creating? Here are three resources to help you and your students make infographics (I'm not affiliated with any of these tools)
- Piktochart: Piktochart.com
- Canva: Canva.com (free and paid options). My favorite!
- Visually: Visual.ly.com (free and paid options)
Pappas, C. (March 13, 2016). The top 7 benefits of using infographics in online training. eLearning Industry. Available online: https://elearningindustry.com/7-top-benefits-using-infographics-in-online-training
The Chronicle of Higher Education. (August 25, 2015). Designing engaging course documents with Piktochart. Prof Hacker Blog. Available online at: http://www.chronicle.com/blogs/profhacker/designing-engaging-course-documents-with-piktochart/60851