Today, students have more homework than the generations of students before them.
They also have plenty of distractions in and out of the classroom like social media, social media marketers, online gaming and online streaming.
With countless distractions and piling assignments, holding students’ attention in the classroom can be challenging. Helping them to absorb and retain new information requires more and more creative approaches.
Research shows that presenting information visually makes a huge difference. Visual content gets processed faster and remembered for longer periods of time (as opposed to plain text). That’s why using visuals in the classroom is a great approach to helping your students learn effectively, and even enjoy what they’re learning.
So it’s time to step away from traditional teaching materials, and embrace an arsenal of visual content. Equipped with the right online design tool, you can create engaging visuals easily and without any design experience at all.
We’ll cover 10 different kinds of visuals that can help you engage your students in the classroom:
- Process infographics
- Informational infographics
- List infographics
- Comparison infographics
- Research reports
- Lesson plans
- Mind maps
- Progress reports
- Charts and graphs
Present Information in the form of infographics
Infographics are a popular form of visual content that can be simple and general, or highly detailed and complex. They’re the most shared form of online content today, which is probably why so many organizations have learned to communicate using infographics.
Infographics can communicate a number of things relevant to the classroom. You can use different styles of infographics to visualize processes, provide detailed information, create memorable lists and present comparisons.
1. Process Infographics
Process infographics help students understand the steps involved in accomplishing long-term tasks or carrying out specific activities. Many students will have personal academic goals they wish to accomplish, and a visual guide to help them is invaluable. Here’s an example of a process infographic on how to find internships:
Students also have plenty of processes to memorize, like formulas, equations, and other procedures. To help them understand complicated processes easily and quickly, visualize your course materials as infographics. Here’s an example of a process infographic describing the steps to the scientific method:
2. Explain a number of topics using informational infographics
Informational infographics typically provide background information on a topic. In a classroom it could be course-related content or current events. Below is a helpful infographic describing different types of chemical reactions with examples:
But you can go far outside the classroom and teach them about how the world’s changing, like environmental concerns that may affect them directly. Below is an infographic highlighting key points regarding the water shortage crisis:
3. Keep students on top of things with memorable list infographics
Students can get swamped with work, sports, clubs and a ton of extra-curriculars. As stress mounts and deadlines pile up, they can forget to take care of themselves. Simple list infographics can be ways to provide students with support, reminding them to do things like sleep well and believe in themselves.
The list infographic below is a playful, attractive way of teaching students how to get a good night’s sleep.
In the same way, to keep students feeling motivated and optimistic, list infographics help validate important values and concepts. This particular list infographic highlights the importance of self-confidence:
4. Highlight similarities and differences with comparison infographics
Comparison infographics are great ways to compare different concepts and ideas. Comparison adds another layer through which to remember things. The infographic below helps the reader understand things in terms of their differences:
Of course, your visual materials don’t need to just help the students. Instructors also need to easily access new perspectives. For example, this comparison infographic highlights the different types of teachers in the world, and can help instructors reflect on the kind of teacher they are, or want to be.
You can take the teacher’s personality quiz and see what type of “educator” you are by clicking here.
5. Format research reports visually to highlight important data
A lot of reading materials provide important, but often dry information. While it’s important to share with students, how much they’re likely to absorb is questionable. Rather than force students to make notes in margins and commit points to memory, you should format materials to foster memorability.
This Research Report is structured to highlight key points of information, to optimize how much the reader actually takes away:
6. Use color and graphics to design exciting lesson plans
A standard lesson plan can be lengthy, filled with technical jargon, and often ignored. However, adding some color, icons and a unique layout creates something attractive. A lesson plan that students actually want to read, means they’ll have a better understanding of what’s going to happen. That means less confusion and more productivity.
7. Use mind maps to understand complex concepts, solve problems and more
Mind maps, pioneered by Tony Buzan decades ago, are still one of the most effective forms of brainstorming, exploring ideas and collaborative problem solving. Mind maps help students understand and remember how different concepts and subjects are interconnected. Even providing mind map templates encourages students to creatively brainstorm and learn on their own.
Below is a mind map that organizes the essential traits and features of a protagonist in a novel:
8. Provide simple, personal progress reports for students
A typical report card can be lengthy or standardized to the point it no longer speaks to the individual student.
However, a simple progress report, personalized to each student can help them quickly identify their own strengths and weaknesses. These types of visual reports can be encouraging for students.
Below is an example of how a simple progress report can be designed, providing clear and direct feedback to a student:
9. Design charts and graphs to effectively convey complex data
Charts and graphs are the best ways to visualize data. At a glance, students will see patterns, trends, similarities, correlations and more. Plain tables of numbers would confuse or overwhelm students instead. As well, charts provide an overview of a topic and create a framework for a more in-depth understanding later on.
Below is an example of charts highlight plastic waste and production. The similarities are easily noticed by comparing these charts side-by-side:
Charts can also be creative, tying back to the subject visually. This makes the data more captivating for your students and helps them retain it. Below is an example of a chart design that gets creative, incorporating the theme of the topic:
10. Promote, inform, remind, guide and more with classroom posters
Finally, posters are great for sharing all sorts of information with your students. To list a few things, they can be used for:
- Reminding students of important facts
- Informing students of different causes
- Displaying formulas, rules and guidelines
- Generating buzz for upcoming events
- Informing students of deadlines
- Providing inspiration and motivation
- Adding some humour to the classroom
Posters can be pinned up around the classroom, adding color and life to the space. They can also be shared on social media accounts and on websites.
The poster example below announces an upcoming science fair. Without doing anything complicated, it invites excitement and mystery:
Posters can also motivate students to act on something. They can inform them of important issues that impact them. Another poster example focuses on the issue of man-made trash in our oceans, prompting readers to learn more and get involved:
Unless she’s a design instructor, educators aren’t expected to know how to use complex design tools. It may not be earth-shattering news, that visual content is highly engaging, but it hasn’t always been easy to create it.
Online design tools, created for the non-designer, are perfect for creating specific types of visuals. They’re often easy to use, free or very affordable, and become an invaluable asset for content creation.
If you need help getting started, just shoot a comment below. I’ll be happy to chat!