One of the trends of 2014 is the explosion of infographics. Although they have been around for centuries, the creation of infographics has been limited to specialists such as cartographers, graphic designers, and others who specialize in data visualization.
The popularity of data visualization experienced a surge in 2006 when Hans Rosling created the free Gapminder tool and presented The Best Stats You’ve Ever Seen on the TED stage. He demonstrated the need for easily accessible tools regular people could use to transform complex information into easy-to-comprehend visual format.
The word infographic has undergone a shift in popular usage over the last three years. In the past, it meant anything that conveyed data or complex information in visual format, including charts and graphs. It now refers to digital posters in which graphics are used to present any type of information. This shift is due in large part to the proliferation of many online tools which make the creation of infographics incredibly easy.
Leading the pack among the vast number of online infographics creation tools are Infogr.am, Pictochart, and InfoActive.
The ease of use makes infographic tools ideal for student use. Instructors can create assignments in which students are asked to create infographics which they then share with their classmates. These can be highly engaging when used as discussion starters.
Here is an example of an infographic we created for the course GRAD 550–Introduction to Online Course Development and Facilitation.