Designing Animated (and Interactive) Infographics for Remote Learning

Designing Animated (and Interactive) Infographics for Remote Learning

Shalin Hai-Jew (Kansas State University, USA)
Copyright: © 2020 |Pages: 32
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-7998-4516-4.ch007
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In remote learning, “animated (and interactive) infographics” combine—visual representations of concepts, data, information, and in-world phenomena; designed motion; designed interactivity; designed learner control; setup of learning contexts and learner sociality; and other factors—to enable various types of learning: observational, (disembodied) experiential, review and practice-based, and other approaches. This work explores the available best practices of designing, development, and deploying animated infographics for learning based on much of the available academic research and some present-day technologies.
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“Graphics” have been a part of humanity since antiquity, with various visual stories depicted on cave walls and carvings in rocks. “Data visualizations” are transformations of quantitative data in visual or graphical format to enable easier access to data, ensure that data is readable, and support “information literacy” (Zentner, Covit, & Guevarra, 2019, p. 1). Data visualizations involve integrations between “statistics and graphic design” (Krafte, n.d., p. 1). A newer form are “narrative visualizations” that include “pictographic representations and animation techniques,” and a subtype of the narrative visualizations are “data videos” (Amini, Riche, Lee, Leboe-McGowan, & Irani, May 2018, p. 1). Data stories are told via various visualizations of data, with particular labels, annotations, and sequences. Infographics are as “visual presentations in which graphic drawings (illustrations, symbols, maps, graphics, etc.) are combined with verbal language to transform complex data and concepts into images and drawings that can be clearly and interestingly understood and assimilated” (Afify, 2018, p. 204). They are pictorial representations of data, information, and knowledge, in “an organized structure” (Yildirim, 2017, p. 248). In the digital age, people consume information objects and “graphic representations of information” (Lankow, Ritchie, & Crooks, 2012, as cited in Lazard & Atkinson, 2015, p. 6) as part of news acquisition, political activism, health behavior efforts, and learning. Some digital infographics are harnessed for political persuasion and serve as “complex intersections between interfaces, people and data” (Amit-Danhi & Shifman, 2018, pp. 3540 and 3543).

Infographics encourage people to “engage in greater levels of issue-relevant thinking when shown infographics compared to messages that rely just on text or just on illustration, with learning preferences and visual literacy as moderators” (to that thinking) (Lazard & Atkinson, 2015, p. 6). Further, infographics have “long been part of the production of knowledge” (Amit-Danhi & Shifman, 2018, p. 3540), which is also central to academic work. The creation of educational information graphics has to adhere to “copyright, publicity, references, design preferences, production environments and production processes” even as different designers focus on “different approaches and preferences in terms of design concept, design process, readability level, sharing and contribution to the personal development, visual components, colours, information sources, themes and quality perception” (Yildirim, 2017, p. 248). Informational graphics are composed of various visual components: “graphics and drawings, diagrams, visualizations / photos (illustrations, maps, organizers (Concept maps, cause and effect modifiers, venn (sic) diagrams, etc.), photographs, (and) symbols” (Lamb & Jhonson, 2014, as cited in Yildirim, 2017, pp. 249 - 250).

Animations are “simulated motion picture(s) depicting movement of drawn (or simulated) objects” (Mayer & Moreno, 2002, as cited in Senoymak, 2017, p. 20). In another sense, animations are stills that are viewed in animated ways as a sequence of changing frames. From the Latin, “animation” refers to the giving of life to something inanimate, through “motion and growth” (Ploetzner & Lowe, 2012, p. 782). Animations may be experienced as a full sequence, as piecemeal elements in a distributed sequence, or as interrelated discrete “atomic substeps” (Tversky, Morrison, & Betrancourt, 2002, p. 256).

Key Terms in this Chapter

Transient Information: The impermanence of visual and other access to information in an animated infographic (resulting in a higher cognitive load and often lower comprehension, depending on the pacing and repeatability).

Interface: A designed surface (of an application or software program) that enables people to interact with computers.

Visual Literacy: A learned skill to enable extraction of symbolic meanings from visual information.

Framerate: The frequency of consecutive images (such as in a video or animation).

Interactivity: The ability of a user to engage with a software application to attain various outcomes (like access to information, the running through of a simulation, and others).

Frame: A rectangular (or regularly shaped) still image (which in a sequence with other frames may create a sense of moving imagery).

Motion Graphics: Computer-created graphics that simulate motion through keyframes containing various shapes and tweening to show changes over time (and output as image snippets, short videos, learning objects, and games, among others).

Segmentation Effect: A learning advantage gained by chunking or phasing an animated learning sequence into smaller parts.

Learner Control: The designed ability for a user to start, pause, stop, replay, and otherwise direct a learning object, software application, software program, website, or other digital content for learning; such controls may also include ways to engage a visualization from various levels of zoom, from various perspectives and angles, and others.

Animated Infographic: A motion-enabled (and interactivity enabled) visual representing informational content for various purposes (including learning).

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