Four Tools to Make Infographics

I love infographics. There is no better way to visually describe or illustrate our world than a proper infographic. These graphics are engaging, aesthetically pleasing, and informational at the same time.

I regularly read the blog Information Aesthetics, an essential resource for all kinds of data representations. In recent days, IA has uncovered three great tools for creating one’s own infographics. Check each one out and choose the one that would best fit your students’ needs.

Visual.ly has actually been around for months which is decades in internet years. Visual.ly once focused on creating a community around sharing inforgraphics and other visual representations of data but now offers a rather easy-to-use tool where users can insert their own social media data into several highly-customizable inforgraphics. Despite the customization of the appearance, Visual.ly appears to be limited to infographics using social media data. That’s crucial in the 21st century but it’s still a bit limited. [IA post]

Easel.ly is a start-up that is offering a beta service for average users to create their own infographics virtually from scratch. The online editor allows users to drag and drop vector images they have created onto a canvas created by designers so as to insure an aesthetically pleasing infographic. However, as easy as it is to make your graphic look like an infographic, it doesn’t work with actual data to make your inforgraphic come to life. [IA post]

Like Easel.ly, Infogr.am offers some simple templates which users can manipulate to fit their needs. However, Infogr.am differs in that users may enter their data to create visualizations based on the numbers and not just designer aesthetics. Again, this is an online tool with a simple interface to navigate. [IA post]

Venngage is an infographic tool from visualize.me, the resume infographic generator. This tool differs from previous tools in that the images display as HTML elements, affecting the Google hits and online traffic. Like Infogr.am, Venngage feeds data into the resulting graphics but allows more flexibility in design elements. [IA post]

Each tool offers varying degrees of freedom and support in design elements and data entry.    It all depends on the kind of project one might have students use these tools for and the amount of technological experience among students and teachers. All of these tools make it easier to create engaging infographics, providing another alternative to the PowerPoint presentation or poster project.

How have you used infographics with your students? How would you use these tools both to present information and to offer students as a publication tool? Which of these tools would fit your needs best?

Zac Early is an instructional specialist and blogger for the eMINTS National Center.

Tuesday’s Tool: Online Tool Roundup

Click for source.

This busy week has caused me to fall behind with the posts. So, for the online tool feature, I will give you five six for the price of one. Enjoy…

Students have a difficult time putting into context statistics involving large numbers of people. The BBC now offers How Many Really?, an online tool that allows one to put historical and current statistics in a context students can better understand. There are options for using Facebook or Twitter lists for comparisons, but one can also enter their own number of people (maybe a classroom’s worth) in order to see how these statistics would play out in a smaller, more manageable context. One could visualize how many of their Facebook friends would have died at Gettysburg or how many would be homeowners.  via Larry Ferlazzo,  via Infosthetics)

SafeShare is the tool for which schools weary of questionable YouTube content have been searching. With SafeShare, teachers can enter a YouTube URL and the tool will filter out ads, related videos, and comments. This makes YouTube a much safer resource for the classroom.

WikiHow has always been a fantastic resource for the how-to’s for almost anything. WH’s list of commonly misused words is just one example of how this site can be used as a help tool for your students. The list links to easy-to-understand anecdotes and definitions that explain when and where a word is best used. Now, there’s a simple way to explain the difference between “affect” and “effect.” (via EdGalaxy)

Chrome Experiments brings us the Web GL Globe, a tool that allows us to visualize world data in a prety slick, 3-D image of the earth. There are a few globes already submitted on the site, but it is easy to grab the Java Script and insert your own data sets.

Moritz Stefaner has created a fantastic real-time visualization tool of Twitter content. Simply enter any topic and the tool demonstrates what’s being said on Twitter in a constantly-updated timeline. It’s easy to keep up with nearly any trending topic with this tool.

Over the last few days, new tool to help with classroom management has been floating around the eMINTS discussion list. Class Dojo is an online tool that allows teachers to keep track of both positive and negative behaviors during class. Students might be rewarded for participation or helping others. Conversely, a teacher can track negative behaviors such as disruptions or missing homework. Data is collected in nice inforgraphics for the entire class as well as individual students. This data can then be easily shared with stakeholders for each student. One can even remotely record data with a smart phone, although no app seems to be available at the moment.

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

Thursday’s Tip: Handmade Visualization Toolkit

Via collection of data visualizations.

Reading and creating visualizations of data is a key part of schooling. Graphic visualization is covered in the social studies, sciences, and mathematics.  Instead of looking at textbook graphics or creating aids on graph paper, why not use a Homemade Visualization Toolkit like the one created by “visual thinker” Jose Duarte and create three-dimensional, real-life models of data similar to the one above.

The kit includes all the pieces you see below. This is how Duarte describes his project:

I am exploring new and simple ways to represent information. That is why [I] made my own visualization kit-tool that [I] use to make any kind of graphics quickly.

With it you can make any kind of graphics including: abstracts maps and diagrams, area graphs and charts, arrow diagrams, bar graphs, venn diagrams, time line charts, bubble graphs, circle diagramas, proportional charts, organization charts, and really, whatever you want.

All rights reserved by jose.duarte

Duarte is making his kit available for free. All you have to do is email him and make a request. Of course, if you don’t want to take full advantage of his generosity, you could create your own kit(s) and send him some of your results.

All images are from Jose Duarte’s Flickr page. Hat-tip goes out to the incredible visualization blog Information Aesthetics.

Zac Early is a instructional specialist with the eMINTS National Center.