Saturday, 29 October 2016

Review: Exploiting Infographics by Nik Peachey

Nik Peachey has been at the forefront of educational technology in ELT for many years, always exploring new ideas and media and linking them to best practices and effective learning.

He is now well-established as an independent publisher and in this review, I will look at his latest e-book Exploting Infographics.

Exploiting Infographics by Nik Peachey
Available to buy from payhip.com
A free copy of this e-book was provided by the author for review purposes

Of all the recent trends in digital media, infographics have been one of the most intriguing. They offer the chance to digest topics in a concise but detailed manner with an added layer of engaging visuals. Indeed, the visual element can provide a great deal of support for the struggling L2 reader and this book aims to provide ideas for both using and creating infographics in class.

The book itself is available in pdf format and is quite short at 30 pages. However, much like infographics themselves, there is a lot packed into this volume. It begins with an introduction examining why we should use infographics followed by a useful look at how the students can view them in class. Considering a range of tech settings, Nik gives ideas for sharing the images in the well-resourced classroom with tablets and/or laptops available, for the online classroom, and even for classrooms with just one PC and projector or no digital technology at all.

The next section looks at generic activities that can be adapted to whichever infographics we decide to bring into class. Each activity is presented through a brief overview followed by the rationale for doing it. I personally found the ideas for fact-checking and investigating author bias and motivation interesting as my teenage students have a tendency to view infographics as entirely factual and free of opinions.

Following on from there, Nik shares ideas for getting learners to create their own infographics. These can mimic the factual ones commonly shared online or they can present personal information as an alternative 'getting to know you activity'. My favourite suggestion is that of researching and presenting a grammar point, which sounds like a great way to get students analysing and thinking about the language they have studied more carefully. In fact, combining those two ideas, students could make a personal timeline and then use it to demonstrate examples of past simple and present perfect - a great way to personalise the learning process.

Of course, creating infographics can be daunting so they next chapter looks at the whole process from researching a topic to structure to design. This is a particularly useful section of the book, not only for students but for teachers as well who are looking to create sample infographics tailored to their students' needs.

The final part of the book gives overviews of eight tools available online for creating infographic images. All of them are either completely free or 'freemium' (free basic account with some paid-only content) and Nik provides brief details about the affordances of each site.

As mentioned earlier, the book is not particularly long but it contains a lot of useful information and ideas. It will provide a great reference for teachers interested in exploiting infographics in the language classroom and also for those interested in creating them. The only thing which could have made the book even more appealing would have been a few samples to represent the ideas shared. However, as one of the aims of the book is to encourage critical thinking, perhaps it is better for the readers to be encouraged to make their own.

I am certainly looking forward to adapting some of the ideas for use with my classes in the near future.

If you are interested in doing the same, Exploiting Infographics can be purchased for £2.99 via Peachey Publications.

No comments:

Post a Comment

Thanks for commenting! Your comment will appear after Dave has approved it. :-)