The Art of Infographics, a general education course available to both art majors and non-art majors, will be offered for the first time in Fall 2014.
As an assistant professor of graphic and interactive design and a graphic designer herself, Abby Guido said she started to notice a change in the field in recent years, requiring much more experience in the creation of infographics. Guido said since news and information is presented to readers on multiple platforms that include visual representations of information, it calls for further development of artists’ skills.
“There is so much data out there, and you look at numbers and think, ‘What does it mean?’” Guido said. “But when you learn how to tell a story and how to visualize it and how to express it to your audience, it makes that information valuable.”
To help adjust to this development toward visualization of the news, Guido said she decided that students from all departments could benefit from an additional course that teaches the importance of infographics in the modern world.
Beginning next semester, The Art of Infographics will be available as an online course on Tuesdays from 5:30-6:50 p.m., along with an additional day and time that has yet to be announced. The course will also be separated between graduate and undergraduate level with the graduate students having an additional project requirement.
Guido said having the class online rather than in a classroom is just another way in which the course represents modernity.
“The idea of bringing all these different students together from different backgrounds seems a little intimidating possibly, where students think, ‘I don’t have this art background, how do I take this class,’” Guido said. “I think having it online kind of makes it an even playing field for everyone.”
Guido said that while students will be learning basic principles of design, the class will be focused more on an understanding of what goes into creating an infographic.
“There will be a history, so we will look back and see the development of infographics and when they started to appear,” Guido said. “The design part will be discussing visual literacy, so techniques you can use to critically analyze infographics. We’ll look at contemporary infographics, but we will also do a lot of technical demonstrations in the Adobe Illustrator software.”
Over the course of the semester, students will also be creating their own infographic, which they will build upon as they develop new skills and techniques. One aspect Guido said she is particularly excited about is the Web X program utilized by the course. Students will log in to the class at a specific time and will be able to communicate with one another, similar to other video chat software.
“What happens when you ‘show up for class’ is that you will see my screen,” Guido said. “I can present lectures this way, I can talk about work, and it’s actually kind of like ‘The Brady Bunch’ – you see everyone’s little faces up there. It’s really great.”
Guido said she can also “share the ball,” by selecting certain students to present their work to the rest of the class. The software also allows students to break into groups where they can form separate virtual classrooms.
Artistic fields like graphic design are often chalked up as being something that anyone can become good at with practice, Guido said, but she hopes that with the introduction of this course, students will better appreciate the work it takes to create complex infographic designs.
“I think [the class will promote] understanding and appreciation and being able to have the ability to look at a piece of design – an infographic – and [in addition to] infographics, I’m hoping students will take this appreciation elsewhere as well,” Guido said. “I’m sure some students will fall in love with [the course] and that’ll be really cool, too. You never know where it could take you.”
Alexa Bricker can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.