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ISTE Standards for Coaching

Using infographics to communicate: An important skill in a dietetic intern’s toolbox

An essential component of a dietetic internship program is providing opportunities for interns to practice communicating food and nutrition information information to the public. Dietetic interns demonstrate their verbal and written communication skills in a variety of ways, including conducting one-on-one counseling sessions with clients, providing in-service presentations to staff, presenting cooking demonstrations, participating in group nutrition education classes, and educating the public through social media platforms. 

One learning competency that dietetic interns are required to achieve according to the Accreditation Council for Education in Nutrition and Dietetics (ACEND) is CRDN 3.5: “Develop nutrition education materials that are culturally and age appropriate and designed for the literacy level of the audience” (ACEND). The specific learning activity our program has in place to evaluate this competency is that our dietetic interns will develop infographics that are culturally-sensitive and suitable for low-literacy level audiences. Since our program has a community nutrition emphasis, it is important that our dietetic interns understand how to communicate about food and nutrition in a culturally-sensitive manner. Further, experience developing infographics to convey information is a valuable skill to acquire due to the benefits to the consumer offered by this unique communication tool.

My question, which relates to ACEND CRDN 3.5, is as follows:

How can dietetic interns use the digital tool Piktochart collaboratively to demonstrate communication skills? 

My question stems from the International Society for Technology in Education (ISTE) Standards for Educators 4: “Educators dedicate time to collaborate with both colleagues and students to improve practice, discover and share resources and ideas, and solve problems.” More specifically, in my review of Piktochart, I will be focusing on ISTE Standards for Educators 4C: “Use collaborative tools to expand students’ authentic, real-world learning experiences by engaging virtually with experts, teams and students, locally and globally” (ISTE).  

Why is communicating through infographics beneficial?

Source: www.venngage.com

An infographic is “a collection of imagery, charts, and minimal text that gives an easy-to-understand overview of a topic” (Nediger, 2020). Due to the reliance on graphics to explain information and share data with limited text, infographics are an effective tool to provide food and nutrition education to low-literacy level audiences. Also, due to the graphic design emphasis, infographics can be used to tailor educational messages to various target audiences with a focus on age, cultural background, socioeconomic status, and more. Some of the advantages of communicating through infographics include the following: 

  • “Complex information [is] easy to digest” (Nediger, 2020) 
  • “Offers a visual step-by-step task guide” (Pappas, 2016) 
  • Can be designed to:
    • “explain a complex process (Nediger, 2020)
    • “simplify complex concepts or ideas” (Pappas, 2016) 
    • “compare and contrast multiple options” (Nediger, 2020)
    • “provide a quick overview of a topic” (Nediger, 2020)
    • summarize a long blog post or report” (Nediger, 2020)
    • “raise awareness about an issue or cause” (Nediger, 2020)
    • “increase knowledge retention” (Pappas, 2016). 

Further, in an article titled, “Infographics and public policy: Using data visualization to convey complex information,” the authors stated that “…visual communication design as applied to food and nutrition science offers a number of advantages (Otten, J.J., Cheng, K., & Drewnowski, A., 2015). One advantage discussed by the authors highlights interdisciplinary collaboration in the development of infographics to prevent misinterpretation of data shared with the public. This suggestion reflects ISTE Standards for Educators 4, which emphasizes use of digital tools in collaboration with others (ISTE). 

Review of Piktochart 

Piktochart is a visual communications tool which provides users with access to a variety of templates to design infographics, posters, reports, and graphics for social media (Piktochart).

This Youtube video provide a quick overview of Piktochart:

Source: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LdRMqJWyvik

Brigham (2020) provided a review of Piktochart in the Journal of the Medical Library Association. One point discussed is that people can use Piktochart successfully even if they are lacking in graphic design skills and experience. This is due to the variety of templates provided as well as ease of use of this web-based application. Further, Piktochart has a free version, which offers many options for no cost,  as well as monthly subscriptions for their Pro, Team, and Educator options. Below is a comparison chart, which depicts the similarities and differences of the various options: 

FeaturesPiktochart – Free versionPiktochart – Paid subscriptions
Number of templates40>600
Template categoriesInfographics
Presentation
Printable (posters, reports, and flyers)
Infographics
Presentation
Printable (posters, reports, and flyers)
Variety of Icons and graphics?YesYes
Option to insert external graphs, maps, videos, graphics?YesYes
Accessibility – Requires a desktop computer and access to InternetYesYes
Integration: final product can be uploaded as a link to social media platforms, but posting Piktochart visuals directly to social media platforms is a bit more complicatedYesYes
PricingUnlimited use of 40 templatesPricing options: 
Lite version: $15/month
PRO version: $29/month
PRO team version: $13.50/user/month
Education: $39.99/user/year

Piktochart for Teams, which emphases group collaboration, seems ideal for online collaboration of dietetic interns due to the well-thought out features that promote and support teamwork. The Pro Team option includes additional storage capacity as well as organization of team assignments and projects. The video shown below demonstrates the teamwork aspect of Piktochart: 

Comparison of Piktochart with two other visual communication tools 

Beck (2020) conducted a hands-on comparison of three visual communication tools – Piktochart, Canva, and Visme. His evaluation outlines his perceptions of the pros and cons of these three storytelling tools. I have summarized Beck’s review in the following chart: 

PiktochartCanvaVisme
ProsEasy to use; includes a share feature; offers numerous free graphics; offers ability to upload your own graphics; tutorials and how-to guides available.
Overall grade: A-
Video tutorials available; broad offering of design templates; infographic templates are organized by categories;
can create “interactive and animated graphics.”
Overall grade: B+
Can create “interactive and animated graphics;”
Includes a “foldering” organizational system; includes a keyword search function for graphics. 
Overall grade: A
Cons“No rich media export options;” 
Maximum of 5 infographics in workspace at a time with free version.
“No rich media export options;” usability; 
limited infographics available.
May take more time to learn to use compared to Piktochart and Canva.

In summary, Piktochart appears to be a promising digital tool for dietetic interns to create infographics to disseminate food and nutrition information to the public. My evaluation is based on Piktochart’s ease of use for those who don’t have a graphic design background, the plethora of features available, and the Pro team option that promotes collaboration and project teamwork.

Utilizing a digital tool such as Piktochart to communicate food and nutrition information to the public demonstrates competency in several 21st century skills, including collaboration, technology literacy, and communication skills – all of which are necessary for the success of budding professionals in today’s workforce (Stauffer, 2020). 

References 

The Accreditation Council for Education in Nutrition and Dietetics. https://www.eatrightpro.org/acend

Beck, B. (2020). Piktochart vs. Canva vs. Visme. We put 3 visual storytelling tools to the test. ClearVoice. https://www.clearvoice.com/blog/piktochart-vs-canva-vs-visme-put-3-visual-storytelling-tools-test

International Standards for Technology in Education. (2021). https://www.iste.org/standards/for-educators

Nediger, M. (2020). What is an infographic? Examples, templates, and design tips. Venngage. https://venngage.com/blog/what-is-an-infographic/

Otten, J.J., Cheng, K., & Drewnowski, A. (2015). Infographics and public policy: Using data visualization to convey complex information. Health Affairs. 34, 11. 

Pappas, C. (2016). The 7 top benefits of using infographics in online training. Elearning industry. https://elearningindustry.com/7-top-benefits-using-infographics-in-online-training

Piktochart. https://piktochart.com/ 

Stauffer, B. (2020). What are 21st century skills? Applied Educational Systems. https://www.aeseducation.com/blog/what-are-21st-century-skills