Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Seeing Is Believing: Visual vs. Linear Content

Source: ASIDE, 2014
In order for our learners to see how designing information changes how it is viewed, the students this year placed their visual infographics side-by-side with their linear notes to see the transformation. It was the “ah ha” moment, when they could examine how the delivery of content mattered and how the deliberate choices in font hierarchy, color selection, and placement changed the way others perceived the ideas.

Source: ASIDE, 2014
Reflecting on their own work, the students saw firsthand how media could change and enhance a message. Paralleling the visual and linear content enabled them to observe the full effect of how design could give content power. It provided context for the information.

Source: ASIDE, 2014
For more than four years, we’ve been working with our students to think about the design of information and how presentation changes its perception. This newest crop of acronym infographics exceeded our expectations, in part because we worked closely to develop a stronger understanding of both the elements and principles of design. As with any other skill, students need guidance in this area. Design literacy requires the same instruction as media and financial literacies.

To help them better understand "the tools to make art" as compared to "how to use the tools to make art," we supplied them with the charts below to clearly separate the elements and principles of design.

Source: Split Complementary

The students were given other resources and guidelines to help train their eyes to think like designers. They looked at infographics created by professionals and deconstructed what they saw. The process of learning to look at visual information is a core skill of graphicacy. The ability to decode information helps students transfer these visual thinking concepts into creating their own work.

Of course, before the students started, they researched and gathered the information from various websites as notes. This included citations for the resources. We stressed that quality infographics source the information at the bottom. Our students know we stand by our mantra, “Content First, Pretty Second.” Without strong content and the evidence to support it, the message is questionable.

Seeing the shift from linear to visual helped the students teach others about their topic. It’s the same art of persuasion we refer to in media literacy. The best way for learners to understand how to manipulate information is to do it. Attraction and appeal matter, and perhaps it’s a lesson for us as educators as well. Designing information provides context for content; the more visual it is, the stronger the retention.

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1 comment:

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