In this article Grace Alchini talks about her session “Using infographics as a tool for collaborative learning” at the Image Conference in Athens
I firmly believe that, as language teachers, we must go beyond the development of students’ language and linguistic skills. We are teaching people, and in the case of having school and university students, we are even forming them. In this ever-changing world we must also provide our learners with tools so that they are prepared to perform successfully in the 21st century workplace, and train them to be critical when dealing with loads of information circulating among them.
Collaborative work in the classroom not only gives students a unique chance to practise the language (as they have to interact with their peers) but also enhances the social skills that are essential in teamwork, may be used to reinforce values, fosters effective communication and raises creativity to surprising levels.
Similarly, the development of visual literacy is essential in this information age. Our students are used to being surrounded by conceptual visual representations in mass media and technologies, but that does not mean they know how to use them critically, and we have to help them acquire this ability.
Among a wealth of images in various formats and media, there are infographics, graphic visual representations of information, which are very much used nowadays as quick , clear and attractive ways to convey data.
Collaborative work needs a common aim, such as working critically or creatively on an infographic, a very suitable resource for cooperation. Likewise, dealing with an infographic may be more inspiring, creative and productive when students work in teams. So, why not put these two together? What I intend to do in my presentation at The Image Conference in Athens next month is to continue discussing collaboration and visual literacy, sharing some examples of how my learners get engaged as they interpret and produce infographics in teams, and encourage attendees to think of ways they can apply some of these ideas in their own contexts.
Looking forward to seeing you there! Saturday 6th October, 11.45 a.m, New York College, Athens, Greece.