Wednesday, October 29, 2014

World Wisdom With Weaver - Global Learning with Infographics

Yes, I know, Diane Glock-Cornman is our tech guru...but at the World Food Prize/Global Youth Institute, I had the awesome opportunity to take part in a teacher's professional workshop hosted by Donna Nesbitt (Director of GlobalEd Network of Central Ohio). She is also a consultant with the Asia Society. Although this organization is devoted to promoting understanding and developing relationships between Asia and the United States, they have a large collection of education materials that can be applied to global learning in a much larger context. Check out their Educational Resources for some ideas.

At the WFP/GYI, Donna led a group of educators from around the country in a lesson centered on infographics.  First, Donna defined global competence - "The knowledge, capacity, and disposition to understand and act on the dynamic interrelated global issues that confront humanity."

Then, we discussed 4 aspects of a globally competent student - the ability to Investigate the World, to Recognize Perspectives, to Communicate Ideas, and finally to Take Action. (Global Competency Matrix)

Finally, Donna provided us with an activity to develop an infographic. Not sure what an infographic is? I'm sure you've seen one...

Infographics are  visual way of representing information to an audience. These can be used for a variety of topics, but are utilized quite well for the concepts discussed in a global leadership curriculum or class. Infographics are also a way for the lesson to be SAGE (Student Choice, Authentic Tasks, Global Impact, Exhibition to an Audience). These are absolutely relevant and authentic tasks as they are used in a wide variety of professions. Students are probably pretty well-versed in these already! This lesson would be great to culminate a unit on global issues.

So, how do you use this in class?  Start by introducing infographics as a way to represent data. Then students will do this:

  • Choose an issue
  • Define your position on the issue.
  • Gather numerical data.
  • Identify your audience
  • Choose the best format to tell a story with the data.
  • Choose design elements like colors and symbols
  • Create the infographic
  • Get feedback on your infographic.
You can provide students an article or source of data, or you can give them free reign on the issue/information.  Be sure to check all sources for validity.  

As far as making the infographic - there are many options! Students can choose "old-school" and can make one with paper. Particularly artistic students may even prefer this as they can cut apart  magazines or create drawings and juxtapose images with content. Students who are kinesthetic/artistic may prefer this method. Student who prefer technology can try their hand at creating one on the computer. They can simply use Publisher, Powerpoint, or Word. If they want to get a little more creative, here are some websites that provide free (or free versions) programs to help create infographics:
  • Google Developers - You can create a website that is is an operational infographic. 
  • (get it?!) This is a free web-based infographic tool that offers a dozen or so free templates to start, and these are able to customize to fit your needs. There is a library with shapes like arrows and shapes and you can even upload your own graphics and photos to use.
  • Piktochart - This is the one a fellow teacher at my worktable recommended to me. She has been using it for a while and enjoys it. You can modify fonts and color schemes, and it has some pre-loaded graphics and basic shapes and images. There's a free version of this, or you can really commit and upgrade to a pro account (about $170 per year)
  • (get it?!) This site makes infographics, videos, web experiences, and presentations. This one is cool because you can easily share the infographics you create on social media (There's that "exhibition to an audience" piece!!)
  • Venngage - This one was pretty awesome and I think the one that I'll be using in my International Agriculture Leadership class the next semester. It's easy, it's free and you can publish your infographics! You can even animate them!
So, get started! Your students are sure to love this engaging and interactive way to use technology and data to learn more about global agriculture. Please share your results in the comments, or even tell us about other infographic websites we can use! Sharing is caring :)

Agriculturally yours,

Nicole Weaver
PSU Global Teach Ag! Fellow
Agricultural Science Educator

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