Critical Literacy Media: The Infographic and the Word Cloud

There are multiple ways that we as educators can generate interest in literacy. We attempt to get them involved by making it social and exciting and creating meaningful learning opportunities. Some of our tactics work and some we have to go back to the drawing board on. Critical literacy media may be able to minimize us going back to the drawing board. Critical literacy media can be viewed as an educational response that expands literacy to include forms of mass communication, pop culture, and technology (Garcia, Seglem, & Share, 2013). According to Garcia, Seglem, and Share (2013), critical literacy media deepens literacy education by critically analyzing relationships between media and audiences. Students are able to express themselves through media which fosters a creative learning environment.

There are many tools that can reinforce the use of critical literacy media, but for the purpose of this writing, we will address two; the infographic and the word cloud.

Infographics

An infographic is basically a data visualization. The Marriam Webster dictionary defines the infographic as, “a chart, diagram, or illustration (as in a book or magazine, or on a website) that uses graphic elements to present information in a visually striking way” (Marriam-Webster, 2017).

Why use an infographic in the classroom?

There are several reasons as to why we should be using the infographic in the classroom (hundreds actually). Below are three (good) reasons

Comparing and Contrasting. Students are able to visually see a comparison and easily identify the differences which can enhance their analytical abilities. There are two ways we can do this; either the students can create an infographic which compares and contrasts a topic, or instructors can create an infographic to visually represent a comparison of two topics. See an example of a comparing and contrasting infographic here.

 Reflection and Recall Activities. Students can share their reflections through an infographic which can tell us whether or not they understand the information being provided to them. This can be seen as retrieval practice and can help reinforce learning. See an example of a summarizing infographic here.

Statistical Analysis. Students are able to share visuals of statistics to their classmates. Statistics are not generally fun and/or appealing to students, but if we have them produce graphic images, ultimately statistics become a little more interesting. See an example of a statistical representation infographic here.

Tools to Assist in the Design of Infographics

At this point, you may be wondering where to start. Below you will find web based tools to create an infographic**

Easel.ly

Piktochart

Canva

Infogr.am

Venngage

** This is not an extensive list of infographic software. See Further Reading to get the full article

Word Clouds

A word cloud is just that. A cloud of words. They can be seen as a graphical representation of word frequency that give greater prominence to words that appear more frequently in a text (Better Evaluation, n.d.).

 Why use word clouds in the classroom?

Engaging. Word clouds are colorful, and beautiful to look at. They have the ability to capture attention and can be used to generate an initial interest in a topic

Break the Ice. Word clouds can be an effective way to get to know the prior knowledge of your students. Instructors can create a word cloud before a lesson with all of the words that the students know and then one after the lesson to compare a before and after (Lemke, 2016).

Digital tools to make Word Clouds

Below is a list of technologies that can help you or your students make word clouds.

Wordclouds.com

Wordle

Word it Out

**See further reading below for a more extensive list.

Infographics and word clouds are just two ways to incorporate critical literacy media into the classroom. They are beautiful and creative ways to present information, and can help catch the eye of your learners.

Hope you enjoy!

Further Reading

46 tools to make infographics in the classroom

How to Turn Infographics into Effective Teaching Tools 

Inventing Infographics: Visual Literacy Meets Written Content

The 8 best free word cloud creation tools for teachers

 

References

Better Evaluation. (n.d.). Word Cloud. Retrieved from http://www.betterevaluation.org/en/evaluation-options/wordcloud

Fanguy, W. (2017). Using infographics in the classroom. Retrieved from https://piktochart.com/blog/using-infographics-classroom/

Garcia, A., Seglem, R., & Share, J. (2013). Transforming teaching and learning through critical media literacy pedagogy. LEARNing Landscapes, 6 (2), 109-124.

Lemke, E. (2016). Word cloud activities: Engaging learners in an online classroom. Retrieved from https://dl.sps.northwestern.edu/blog/2016/01/word-cloud-activities-engaging-learners-in-the-online-classroom/

McCartney (2013). How to turn infographics into effective teaching tools. Retrieved from https://visual.ly/blog/how-to-turn-infographics-into-effective-teaching-tools/

Merriam-Webster. (2017). Definition of Infographic. Retrieved from https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/infographic

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