Taking Learning Into a Visual Experience Through Infographics

Evolving, progressing, developing. Not always an easy task, mainly for very busy English teachers who have heavy schedules, different groups with varied age range and levels of proficiency. But still, they are up to the challenge of after a long day of work to come to a Teacher Development Course to keep improving to become for full-fledged professionals.

That’s the context I have with my also challenging job of working with these teachers to raise their level of understanding of Ed Tech issues and help them learn about practical Ed Tech ideas for their classrooms. Challenging not because of the educators I have in class. They are a fantastic, enthusiastic bunch. Daring because of the responsibility of having a full month for Educational Technology in the Methodology part of the TDC program. Until last semester we’d have only a 2-hour encounter with TDC students. So, two hours turned into a fascinating monthly opportunity to inspire, go above and beyond with those teachers.

Of course, it is no easy task for them. Besides the heavy duty of going through many different concepts, ideas and practicalities of integrating Ed Tech in the classroom, they still have to deal with the hybrid format of this part of the course (1 face-to-face class + 1 online class per week) and my pushing them to do more than just average. A bit of pressure, I know, but I’m totally in awe of what I’ve seen so far, particularly what I had the chance to contemplate, discuss and learn about last class.

I had assigned Mark Warschauer’s text “Technological Change and the Future of CALL”, part of an ESL & Applied Linguistics Professional Series, “New Perspectives on CALL for Second Language Classrooms”, edited by Sandra Fotos and Charles Browne. Besides classroom discussion, I wanted to profit from the elearning environment and the new trends in Ed Tech to explore the possibilities of the use of infographics in the classroom. There was a bit of whining and moaning because of the complexity of the infographics platforms and technical issues that students faced, but the outcomes were simply way more than one could ever expect…
The student-teachers found their own ways to overcome the technical challenges, and the result was a class full of sharing, discussions and considerations about CALL history, its present state and what the future holds. The infographics were the springboard that inspired us all to learn and share. One of the students, a designer by heart and profession, was even applauded by the class when he entered the room with his infographics created in Illustrator that not only visually represented the text but also enticed the readers to consider our pedagogy in the 21st century in his humorous bottom part of the infographic:

by Gustavo Dias

And here’s the collective effort of the group that makes me certain that, yes, even with some pain, there was an amazing learning gain that I am super proud of. I hope that these teachers understand the power of such an activity to take their own students to another learning level. Not that they will ask students to create an infographic, but what are some of the creative practices we can adopt to enhance learning in an EFL/ESL classroom and really give choice, purpose and audience to our students’ production?

If you are just curious about the infographics platforms that I suggested, here they go:

visually 
easelly
   infogram
    piktochart

Just remember that if you want to try them out, do like my students: persist!

For some cool infographics >>> http://pinterest.com/ctjonline/infographics/

4 Comments

  1. Mark Warschauer March 25, 2013 at 16:02 #

    Thanks so much for sharing these infographics. I really enjoyed them!!

    Since I first wrote that paper, several of these changes have already come to pass, through, for example, the proliferation of portable devices fueled by wireless connections.

    One change, related to these but not discussed at length in the paper, is the movement toward online learning both in higher education as well as secondary education. I’d be interested in hearing more about the growth of online learning in Brazil and what people think of it.

    Thanks again for sharing your wonderful infographics and congratulations on all your great work!

  2. Gabriel March 31, 2013 at 19:47 #

    Wow, thanks for replying, Mr. Warschauer! Yes, the search for online higher education, particularly within post-graduate courses and MBAs, has been increasing in Brazil.

    However, I personally have a feeling that they are not yet full online courses, but actually regular, “by-mail” classes fed to students via the internet. This results in passive learning and observation. We still do not have as much interaction and interactivity as one would expect when hearing about an “online course”.

    Then again, just as the new media “starts out” mimicking older media (the first photographs were used to substitute paintings when making family portraits, and the very first movies were merely animated photographs), there is a chance that this will naturally change for the better. Therefore, perhaps in the near future we can hope to have a real interactive online environment, one that takes full advantage of itself in order to maximize students’ professional, as well as personal, growth and make its experience unique.
    ~Gabriel

    • Gabriel March 31, 2013 at 23:24 #

      Oooops, I meant Dr. Warschauer, sorry!

  3. Gustavo April 1, 2013 at 04:07 #

    Hello, Dr. Warschauer!

    After reading Gabriel’s comment, I would like to quote a very dear classmate: “I agree with him”.

    Cheers.

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