The Basics #
An infographic assignment is a great way to get your students thinking about your course content a little differently. A project like this can be designed as a standalone assignment or incorporated as part of a group project, in-class presentation, or recorded video presentation.
1. What is an infographic?
An infographic is a visual representation of information, designed to share knowledge quickly and clearly. Here’s an example:
2. Why might you want to create an infographic assignment?
- Gives students options to demonstrate proficiency (a core tenet of Universal Design for Learning)
- Help with classroom engagement
- Gives students experience with digital tools
- Can be a step towards creating a Digital Intensive course
3. What kind of assignments can this replace or supplement?
- Research Projects
- In-Class & Recorded Presentations
- Group Projects
Designing the Assignment #
Whether you are designing the assignment from the ground up or converting an existing assignment, the steps below can help you think through framing, building, and grading the project.
1. Decide on goals
The goals of an infographic assignment can vary greatly, depending on what you hope your students will get out of the project. A few common outcome objectives for this type of assignment are:
- Demonstrate understanding of course content
- Synthesize concepts to create new information
- Practice communicating information clearly
- Practice research and citation
- Demonstrate technical proficiency with graphic design tools
All are valid goals, and being clear about how much priority you assign to each one will help in designing the assignment (and ultimately your grading criteria).
If you are creating this assignment to be a large final project or other large assignment, you may want to break it down into smaller parts with due dates for each (much like a research paper). Some possible steps are:
- Topic selection
- Source selection
- Information outline and design plan or rough sketch
- Final infographic
Smaller projects, such as weekly “social media post” style infographics, may need fewer steps but the end product will likely be less polished.
How do you imagine your students might apply these skills outside of your classroom? Perhaps you are hoping students will learn to communicate accurately and effectively on social media platforms, or maybe you want them to practice creating informative presentation visuals.
If you are planning to share these infographics on the web, or want the students to practice designing posts for a specific platform that is common in your discipline, the best thing to do is web search for “[platform name] image dimensions.” You could also recommend that your students do that research to plan their project format themselves!
If you aren’t sure where to start or want to give your students some guidelines, here are some common platforms and their dimensions:
1080 x 1080 pixels
Good for smaller projects.
PowerPoint/Full Screen Presentation
1920 x 1080 pixels
Good for infographics designed to supplement presentations.
Website, Blog Post, or Journal Article
This format is the hardest to pin down, and varies widely based on how the student wants viewers to navigate their infographic, where the infographic is placed in relation to text, and how much information the infographic needs to communicate. One possibility is the default Canva template shown below (800 x 2000) which reveals the information vertically as viewers scroll down the page.
Alternatively, you may decide to let the students pick the dimensions that work best for their project (though in this case you might end up with a lot of default Canva template sized projects). This article by Edward Tufte showcases several excellent infographics using various dimensions.
2. Recommend resources
Some students may already have tools they prefer, while others will have no prior experience with these tools. Unless you have a specific reason, there’s no need to require use of a certain tool, but it’s a good idea to offer your students some options. Below are a few we suggest.
Graphic Design Software
A free browser-based tool for graphic design. Canva includes a large library of graphic elements that can be used to design an infographic, but students must be careful to avoid premium assets that require purchase.
Vectr is a free browser-based graphic design tool that uses vectors. Vectors are a bit complicated for beginners, but are a powerful way to creating design that can be shared at many different scales without compromising image quality.
Similar to Canva, Adobe Express is a free browser-based graphic design tool.
Adobe Creative Cloud
Adobe tools like PhotoShop, Illustrator, and InDesign may be overwhelming for beginners, but have many features that can help a project shine. All Adobe Creative Cloud apps are available via AppsAnywere, UMW’s virtual computer lab.
Graphic Design Hardware
With so many browser-based tools for graphic design, students can accomplish simple infographic projects with a basic laptop, Chromebook, or even a phone! But if students want or need more powerful hardware, there are several options available to them.
HCC Computer Workstations
The Hurley Convergence Center contains computers throughout the building that can be used for graphic design projects. The HCC is open 24/7 to students with an EagleOne swipe.
Digital Knowledge Center
The Digital Knowledge Center has several computers with the Adobe Creative Cloud suite, including two Surface Studios that can fold down to become large drawing tablets.
HCC Computer Loan
The HCC Info Desk loans PC and Mac laptops to students for up to six days.
3. Offer support
Make sure your students are aware that they have many options for support for digital assignments (they don’t have to always come to you!).
DKC Class Visits
Consider having the Digital Knowledge Center visit your class to introduce tools and best practices for your assignment. This can go a long way in helping your students get off on the right foot. Visits can be tailored to the needs of your class.
If students run into issues, they can book appointments with a Digital Knowledge Center consultant to help get them unstuck.
DKC Online Guides
The Digital Knowledge Center maintains online guides on many tools for digital projects, including “Getting Started” best practices for audio, video, graphic design, and website-building projects.
4. Consider Accessibility
It is important to consider accessibility in any digital project. Since infographics are a visual medium, providing the information in alternative formats is essential. Here are a few methods to accomplish this:
Provide a written outline of information
Usually the information shared in an infographic can be summarized in a paragraph or two. Consider asking students to share this outline as part of the project, either beforehand (so you can make sure they are on the right track) or alongside the project. This is particularly important if students are sharing work publicly outside of the classroom.
Alternative text (or “alt text’) is used to describe the appearance and function of an image on a page. Alt-text is incredibly helpful for visually impaired viewers who are using screen readers but it also has many other benefits. Most platforms (word processors, social media platforms, web-building tools like WordPress, and presentation tools like PowerPoint) have some method of including alt text. If students are sharing their work on any of these platforms, consider asking them to include a short description of their infographic in the alt text.
5. Determine Grading Criteria
Many of the grading criteria you might use for a “traditional” project still hold true for a digital assignment. If you already have criteria you are comfortable with, great! If you are unsure how to go about grading an infographic, below are some guiding questions and a sample rubric for an assignment.
- Does the student address the prompt and fulfill the assignment effectively?
- Does the student think creatively?
- Does the student clearly state their argument, or thesis?
- Do the visual elements facilitate communication of the thesis?
- Has the student cited sources? Are sources high-quality and support the thesis?
- Are the graphic elements high-quality (not grainy or distorted)?
- Are the graphic elements royalty free or open-license? Does the student credit the creator?
- Has the student included alt text or otherwise endeavored to make the project accessible?
- 40 points | Thesis and argument
- 30 points | Visual Communication
- 15 points | Sources and Citations
- 15 points | Accessibility & Attribution
6. Determine Submission Method
There is no “wrong” way to receive assignment submissions, so choose the one that works best for your learning objectives. Below are a few options.
Canvas is a great submission option if you just want to receive the files directly. You can set the assignment submission type to “File Upload,” and students can upload their image file and supporting documentation all at once.
Alternatively, if you are interested in having your students think about their work as having life outside of your class, embedding their image in a blog post is a great option. This gives students the experience of creating an infographic as part of a larger piece, such as a news article or journal.
Digital Intensive SLOs #
Each Digital Intensive proposal is considered by the DI committee on a case-by-case basis, so there is no “guaranteed” method to acquire the designation. But below are few examples that may help a podcasting assignment address the DI Student Learning Objectives.
These are just a few options – there are countless ways to accomplish the DI objectives. And remember that a single assignment does not need to address every SLO! An infographic assignment could address some, while other assignments could address others.
Students will successfully locate and critically evaluate information using the Internet, library databases, and/or other digital tools.
- Require students to share sources for the claims made in their infographic
- Use the SIFT Method or other criteria to evaluate an online source’s credibility
Students will use digital tools to safely, ethically, and effectively produce and exchange information and ideas.
- Converting a written assignment to an infographic assignment goes a long way to addressing this SLO
- Require a written outline, alt text, and attribution of graphic assets as part the project
Students will creatively adapt to emerging and evolving technology.
- Instead of requiring a specific tool to create their infographic, ask students to evaluate several and select the one that best fits their needs
- Instead of submitting a file in Canvas, ask students to build a public web site using Domain of One’s Own or Sites@UMW to post their infographics
Liberated Learners – Graphic Design
A great resource to share with your students! This walks through the graphic design process from start to finish.
DKC Graphic Design Guides
The Digital Knowledge Center maintains getting-started guides, tool recommendations, and repositories of free media resources for various digital project types.
Free UMW Resources
A list of tools and services available to UMW students that can help with digital projects.
Free Media Resources
A repository of online sources for copyright and royalty-free stock photos, video, and audio that students can incorporate into their projects.
Edward Tufte article on Megan Jaegerman’s News Infographics
A great source of inspiration highlighting the tremendous variety of what’s possible with infographic projects.
Dr. Andrea Smith’s Historic Preservation Infographic Course
Students in this course designed infographics that are still referenced by Fredericksburg City and professionals in the field.