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Visual Learning

The subtitle of this post should be Why I Ask My Students to Make A Concept Map, Mind Map and Infographic. This post is also my assignment for a course I am taking on Coursera, eLearning Ecologies: Innovative Approaches to Teaching and Learning for the Digital Age.   

I teach health informatics in graduate school. I use project-based learning in my course to make my students’ learning visible. I guide their work by asking a driving question.


The driving question stems from simpler questions.


So for week 2, these are the questions. The students deliverable is a concept map.


For week 3, these are the questions. The students need to make an infographic.


And for week 4, the students submit a mind map.

What’s a concept map? Infographic? Mind map?

According to –

A concept map is a type of graphic organizer used to help students organize and represent knowledge of a subject. Concept maps begin with a main idea (or concept) and then branch out to show how that main idea can be broken down into specific topics.

In contrast, a mind map according to Wikipedia

is often created around a single concept, drawn as an image in the center of a blank page, to which associated representations of ideas such as images, words and parts of words are added. Major ideas are connected directly to the central concept, and other ideas branch out from those.

An infographic is an “information graphic.” says it

is a representation of information in a graphic format designed to make the data easily understandable at a glance. People use infographics to quickly communicate a message, to simplify the presentation of large amounts of data, to see data patterns and relationships, and to monitor changes in variables over time.

So what am I asking my students to do? I am asking them to do visual thinking and they experience visual learning.

A post on says visual learning helps the students in the following ways:

1. Visual learning helps students clarify their thoughts
Students see how ideas are connected and realize how information can be grouped and organized. With visual learning, new concepts are more thoroughly and easily understood when they are linked to prior knowledge.

2. Visual learning helps students organize and analyze information
Students can use diagrams and plots to display large amounts of information in ways that are easy to understand and help reveal relationships and patterns.

3. Visual learning helps students integrate new knowledge
According to research, students better remember information when it is represented and learned both visually and verbally.

4. Visual learning helps students think critically
Linked verbal and visual information helps students make connections, understand relationships and recall related details.

Let me share some examples of my students’ work on their blogs this semester.

What is the Relevance of Informatics to Global Health and E-Health?




Sustaining the health information system in developing countries



Let me end by sharing the rubrics I use for grading from Kathy Schrock’s Guide to Everything.

1. Rubric for concept map from University of Wisconsin-Stout. Can also be used to assess mind maps.

2. Checklist for 7 components of student-created infographics


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