Efforts to increase literacy skills have been prevalent in education for ages, but numeracy—think literacy for numbers—is a lesser known topic that can be challenging for we non-math teachers to address. You’ve probably noticed a trend over the last couple of years where people present statistical information with graphics. This new infographic practice is making it easier for the masses to absorb numeric data with an image. The intent is to simplify information and to give context to numbers that may be meaningless or hard to grasp.
Let me show you a couple of examples. But first, a disclaimer. Please know that FLVS is not affiliated with any of the groups I’m sharing today. These are on my “personal favorites” list, and neither FLVS nor I am benefitting by my sharing in any way. I’ll also add that the links below are not intended for classroom use without a teacher fully vetting the safety of the locations.
Information is Beautiful creates and collects infographics on timely topics. To illustrate my love of infographics to support numeracy, check out this visual indicator that represents subscribers to Twitter. I grabbed a screen shot of the top part of the image, but the whole thing is available for you and is called More Truth About Twitter.
Let’s see what we can learn without a lot of reading:
- There are 100 little people shapes in this picture. That means that each little person really represents a much larger number, but I don’t know what that number is from just the top of the picture.
- Colors are not a gender indicator, but shape is. 55 of the 100 are girls; 45 are boys.
- 20 of the 100 people represent dead accounts that are empty.
- 5 of the 100 people have more than 100 people following them on Twitter.
- 50 of the 100 people haven’t posted a tweet in the last week.
- 5 of the 100 people write 75 percent of all the tweets on Twitter.
There is more than what I have excerpted here on the full image, and many infographics allow for drill down by clicking into an image or have scrolling details beneath the main picture.
My English degree and I appreciate the simplicity of infographics. It helps my non-visual, non-number based brain grasp concepts of large numbers and further my understanding. Some infographics are just busy images, and fail to further the cause of numeracy. That’s ok, but when I was seeking examples for this post, I realized just how many are closer to cartoons than a math lesson. Instead of my mission for number literacy, what I really found was that images in infographics are a way to make data points more relevant to the masses. It’s not exactly the same thing as numeracy, but it’s still an awfully good cause.
The Partnership for 21st Century Skills recently shared an infographic in their newsletter from Good Infographics about college grads and their readiness for the workforce. It includes employer ratings of employee skills, info on where graduates acquired their learning, and facts about employment of recent graduates. There are some numeracy-supporting images of data, but mostly it’s just a visually pleasant image of facts on a topic.
Now that you know the word, you’re going to see infographics everywhere and hear references to them. One of my personal favorites is a list of the 100 books everyone should read in a format like Wordle where the items that repeat the most are largest, reinforcing that size in some infographics represents a number.
The Pew Internet & American Life Project, which I’ve mentioned in other posts, has a whole collection of infographics on topics related to kids and social media, health, civic engagement, and even reading habits. Check them out!
So now it’s up to you…what infographics have you seen lately that are worth sharing? Please comment and include a link so that we can all enjoy what you’re seeing!
Post by: Lori Gully