the Dragonfly journal

Infographics: An Answer for Numeracy?

By Steve Garnett - @Garnett_S

I love infographics…but why?

I first came across the phrase when watching a short environmental film featuring American politician Al Gore. In the film, he mentioned the phrase ‘infographic’, and it has had me intrigued ever since. I began researching the nature of infographics and initially came across the work of a Swedish academic called Hans Rosling.


From here, I was taken to a self-proclaimed ‘data journalist’ named David McCandless and a super TED talk on the beauty of data visualisations.


McCandless inspired me to find even more examples of infographics used across numerous subjects, and I discovered just how easy it is to find wonderful infographics on a range of topics through a normal Google search. Simply type what you are looking for and then follow it with ‘infographic’ – e.g. ‘coffee infographic’.

The website describes itself as the biggest source of infographics on the web listed into helpful categories 

So how are they the answer to improving levels of numeracy?

Any analysis of an infographic shows that they are rich in ‘number representations’ with everything from line graphs, number lines, pie charts and pictograms – and this is just the start of the list. They also present an enormous amount of information that has been compressed into a relatively short amount of space.

So what can teachers do with them?

On one level they exist as wonderful display opportunities to brighten up wall space in the classroom or corridor. They have a value even if just for students to look at whilst they are waiting to enter a classroom.

However, whilst on the wall they could also act as a teaching resource – pupils may be given tasks to complete with the answers found on the infographic. There are lots of numeracy related tasks that could be set with the majority focused on interpreting and reading the data.

However, I am really interested in the prospect of pupils trying to create their own versions of an infographic. They first have to gather the data and this could be as straight forward as a class questionnaire on their likes and dislikes. Alternatively, in the example here it could be based on an analysis of Macbeth in English or a geography lesson on tourism to Mexico.

The real power of these infographics is that they invite pupils to think in a numeracy way. They have to gather data, represent it and then interpret it.

If pupils want to go one step further and use ICT based tools to create their Infographics electronically they could use:

Alternatively, the iPad App Grafio works well too.

Or Finally, I’ve heard of @DanDesignThink who can design some for you.