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Information … graphically? August 18, 2012

Posted by IaninSheffield in research, Resources, Teaching Idea.
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byod infographic

cc licensed ( BY NC SD ) flickr photo by ianguest: http://flickr.com/photos/ianinsheffield/7803317018/

I outlined in the preceding post the results of a survey of our students; one aspect of the preparation for our forthcoming BYOD programme. But how to reflect the outcomes back for the various constituents? A report for the Senior Leadership Team? A blog post for the staff? A poster for the students themselves?

And that’s when I realised here was the authentic opportunity I’d been looking for to create my first infographic. A single output suitable for all audiences … and therefore a challenge indeed. So what would be my weapon of choice for such an undertaking. Well the data was already in a Google form, which has its own output option; whilst this isn’t too bad for the numerical aspects of the survey, it’s less than good in showing the free-text responses. Of the other tools, Infogr.am has been stealing the march on generating data visualisations just recently, but didn’t quite offer the features I needed to display the two different data types. In the end another imperative drove my choice and nudged me towards the ‘old-school’ approach with an offline application. A good few years ago, I became quite adept in using vector graphic applications and specifically CorelDraw (if I tell you I was using version 8, this article will give you a clue as to when that was!). I’ve allowed those skills to decline, am in great need of a refresher and recently became aware of Inkscape, an open source vector graphics editor. Reasons aplenty then.

Then reality kicked in! My ‘designer gene’ has always been somewhat dormant and inspiration often eludes me, though as I learned on “edtechcc“, having never really studied nor mastered the design process, there’s an awful lot to it (kudos to Design Tech teachers!). In the end then, it was more a matter of synthesising the data, translating into a more visual form and reducing its complexity somewhat, rather than making it as beautiful as David McCandless might. I hope however that I’ve at least started my journey towards making data more accessible by thinking about:

the creative organization, styling and presentation of information with the goal of increasing interest, readability and comprehension beyond that of pure text.

Joshua Johnson

Knowing the time it took to put together even this simple affair, the skills I had to develop with Inkscape, the interpretation and reimagining of the data and especially the creativity (albeit limited in my case!) involved in choosing and deploying a design, making an infographic would surely provide a worthy challenge for our students?

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Comments»

1. largerama - August 18, 2012

Glad you have dipped your toes in the infographic sphere. I found my students really valued creating them when I had did some lessons with them at the end of last term. I enjoyed putting one together (see http://largerama.creativeblogs.net/2012/05/29/ictfeedback/)

2. ianinsheffield - August 18, 2012

Ah Piktochart! I’d forgotten all about that one Nick. Thanks for the reminder. Wondering about the benefits of using an application which aids the production of infographics … there’s the speed of construction, layout & themes taken care of, more ‘professional’ output, shallower learning curve versus the blank slate, greater flexibility and limitless(?) range of outputs from a more ‘open product. Perhaps the different tools offer different opportunities and therefore choice for any potential producers of infographics?

And how did I miss the student responses to your new approach?! I remember catching your post, but never revisited to see the student responses – aren’t they amazing? Anyone reading this should definitely check out Nick’s link!


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