HD Links: Let’s Get Visual

Copyright © 2005–09 Joe Lencioni used under Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 2.5 License

In our push to adapt teaching to match the needs of 21st century learners, we often look for new ways to present information for our students. Often lost in more antiquated methodology is the visual learner. Luckily, there are many options for presenting information visually all over the internet.

Check out Mashable’s infographic on “The Staggering Size of the Internet.” The vast amount of information being processed and exchanged is incredible, especially when expressed so well in a tidy infographic. If anything, this data represents the direction of our society and how people get and exchange information.

Although it’s great to learn so much about the Internet, there is many other kinds of data that can be represented visually. IBM brings us Many Eyes which attempts to demonstrate a near-infinite amount of information in graphic form. There are visual aids for Martin Luther King’s “I Have a Dream” speech; a complex graph representing the timing of flower blooms and ripened fruit; there’s an enormous collection of crimecensus, and economic data to name just a few categories. One could get lost in Many Eyes, but it is sure to reveal the “look” of data to our more visual learners.

For more encyclopedic, even wikipedic, information, visit Qwiki. Qwiki is like Wikipedia except that the articles are visual narratives with voiceovers that bring the information on many, many topics to life for students. Watch the engaging presentation on the Great Barrier Reef or watch the biography of George Orwell during a unit on 1984 or Animal Farm.

Still haven’t found what you’re looking for? I suggest subscribing to the amazing Information Aesthetics, a blog dedicated to the latest and greatest visualazations from around the internet. Just this morning, IA shared the enhanced video of the State of the Union address given last night by President Obama, complete with statistics and graphs to explain the President’s claims. There’s a video explaining the “Space Fence”: a network of ground-based radars that detect, track, measure and catalog thousands of objects in low-Earth orbit. Another post explains how to best tell a story with data. This blog really is a great resource that should be in your RSS feed.

If you’re looking for a tool that can allow students to create their own visual presentations of their research, try Middlespot. Middlespot allows users to “mash-up” various forms of media and information around the web into one place. The tools are easy to use and feature many drag-and-drop options.

Hopefully, these tools and resources will provide new ways for you to visualize your teaching. What are some ways in which you improve the visualization of your lessons?

Zac Early is an instructions specialist for the eMINTS National Center.