Information Graphics

Introduction

Teachers have known for decades that students will retain information better if they see it, hear it, and do something with it. In our classrooms we use and teach Venn diagrams, concept maps, charts, timelines, and graphs to help students focus and learn concepts in all areas of the curriculum. Infographics involves all these tools. Simply, infographics involves putting data or any type of information in a visual format to make the data easier to understand (see Rick Mans’ infographic about infographics).

This week, we will explore some great sites to find completed infographics and look at a few tools you can use to create infographics with your students or to add to your own toolkit. Two of the tools we will be trying are Many Eyes and Dipity.

Silvia Rosenthal Tolisano, an advocate of using infographics in education, explains in her post “Creating infographics with students” that there are several reasons to use infographics with students including the following :

  • help students make sense of vast amount of information
  • organize and group related information together
  • tell a story
  • connect information
  • make raw data more appealing to most learners who are visual
  • understand complex relationships between data over time
  • analyze and interpret information

The Basics

  • Please review the slideshare by Jessica Fries-Gaither and Terry Shiverdecker entitled Visual literacy for an overview of using infographics in schools.

Examples of infographics

Infographics can be used in their simplest forms with elementary students or combined to create visual essays for secondary students. The following is a text cloud I use with my grade 9 students when introducing the information literacy program:

So, for week 5, please choose one of the following tools (Many Eyes and/or Dipity) and create an infographic. You may decide to simply create a graph or a chart or you may take some varied elements and create a larger infographic. Take time to explore the many sites of infographics; perhaps bookmark some of your favorites.  I used Many Eyes and Glogster for my example. Please remember to post a link to your infographic(s) and blog about the tool you tried and your experience with it.

Tool 1

Dipity is a fun way of creating interactive timelines. Although it can be used in high school, it is a perfect fit for many elementary and junior high curriculums. Please be aware that there are advertisements in the free version. Dipity allows a user to add text, images, or video segments to the timeline.

  • Watch this video (2:19 mins.) for an overview of Dipity.
  • Watch this video (3:25 mins. )for a short tutorial of Dipity

Activity: Give it a try.

  1. You can search timelines without logging in. Take a look at some of the artifacts (pictures, videos) that have been included. We recently used one on All Quiet on the Western Front and another on the Great Depression.
  2. Create an account.
  3. Create a timeline. Please notice you can make it public or private. You may want to consider allowing anyone to contribute and invite someone else to collaborate with you.
  4. Blog about your experience. What topic did you choose? How can you see using this tool with students. Post a link to your timeline.

Postscript: Dipity has proven unreliable recently (April 2012). Please note Dipity works best with Google Chrome and Safari. A participant indicated she prefers timetoast for online timelines.

Tool 2

Many Eyes is a site created as an experiment by IBM. Many Eyes allows the creation a variety of visualizations (infographics) based on data sets that are uploaded to the site. A user can choose to use data already uploaded onto the site to create visualizations or a user can upload new data to manipulate.

The thing I like about Many Eyes is that a student can experiment with different ways of visualizing the data with a click of the mouse; I can create bubble, bar, or pie charts with the same data. Students can also manipulate text data to word clouds (like Wordle) but also showing links and relationships between text.

It is probably too complicated for elementary students. It is, however, a very effective tool for middle and secondary students  who need work with primary documents such as statistics; particularly if they are creating a web-based project as many of the visualizations are interactive.

  • Watch a short video (1:13 mins) describing Many Eyes.
  • View this example of a visualization.

You will have to create an account if you decide to create a data set. You can create visualizations based on the data sets you find on the site without signing in.

Activity: Give it a try.

  1. Watch this video for a short tutorial for Many Eyes.
  2. View this page for an overview/tour of Many Eyes.
  3. Choose a data set and create a visualization.
  4. Create an account.
  5. Create your own data set and make some visualizations based on it. Optional: invite someone to collaborate with you.
  6. Blog about your experience. What data did you use? What visualization(s) did you create? How could you use this tool in your school? Post a link to your visualizations and data set.

Helpful hints when creating infographics:

  • locate and analyze relevant data – reference where the data come from
  • Consider the story you want to tell
  • Keep it simple – don’t try to do too much
  • Focus *** quickly convey the meaning
  • Reference your facts

 

 

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