School’s out Friday

David McCandless is a data journalist and information designer who maintains an excellent website called ‘Information is Beautiful‘.  Here’s his mission statement from the site.

Myself, and the rest of the crack team here at Information is Beautiful, are dedicated to distilling the world’s data, information and knowledge into beautiful, interesting and, above all, useful visualizations, infographics and diagrams.

If you spend even just five minutes on the site you will see that their dedication has paid off. I’ll bet you’ll be there for longer than five minutes too, because the representations of data are compelling. I used the video above in my ‘Language of our Times’ class this afternoon, and my students were blown away by what they saw. They were so impressed with the ability of the visuals to illustrate the textual information displayed at the top of the screen.

At the moment my students are researching disruptions to the Music Industry over the past 30 years and will be conducting an investigation into an artist or group of today to see what is necessary to build audience and be successful in today’s world. They won’t be writing a report, they’ll be demonstrating their knowledge through an infographic using the site easel.ly to help them create it. Believe me, this is no easy task – they need to make decisions about what is important to include and must determine how best to represent that using visuals. They know it’s going to be challenging, but they’re excited to be using easel.ly  and I can’t wait to see what they produce.

The weekend ahead looks magnificent here in Melbourne – 23 degrees celsius tomorrow and full sun. My bones are craving the sun, so I’ll be sitting in my backyard soaking it up. I hope you get to do much of the same. 🙂

6 Replies to “School’s out Friday”

  1. The video shared in this post blew my mind! I literally had to watch it three different times to get a complete intake on it! To see what the U.S spends money on is actually quite interesting, but it is even more interesting to see find important to spend money one, such a video games. The fact that the actual cost of the war in Iraq was that much more is astonishing! I agree with your students, using the visuals to explain the text helped me understand what I was looking at so much more. As I was navigating through the shared website, “Information is Beautiful, I found myself clicking on the links just to read about them. A round of applause to David McCandless for such an awesome page!! Twenty minutes later, I was still looking around the website!!

  2. Hi Jenny, I heard you speak at Edutech and was very encouraged by your words. I work as a (recently appointed) elearning coordinator in a large (1300) regional NSW school and am also a Science teacher. You mentioned that your students found the infographic task hard and I had a couple of questions. I am helping re-design a Year 10 Science issues task. Students are expected to research an issue and come to an evidence-based decision about it. I am suggesting that they present their main points in an infographic as a way of integrating technology into their task in a meaningful way. Do you have any recommendations from your own experience with it? In terms of guiding students/setting the task? I’d also like to try to incorporate a share/peer review element but have no sense of a web tool that may work for that relatively easily. We have 8 classes of ~27 so a bit unwieldy. Any advice you have time for would be appreciated.

    1. Hi Katie,
      Apologies for my delay in replying. My students used Visual.ly and Piktochart to create their infographics – one of the keys things they had to do was continually save their work – some of them lost what they’d updated along the way and this was very frustrating for them. I’d encourage students to save screenshots of their work as evidence of what they’ve done and as a reminder if the work does not save properly. Canva has come on the scene in recent times and my class this year will be seeing how that site works for infographic creation in weeks to come. I had students look at David McCandless’ site ‘Information is Beautiful’ before we commenced the task and had them do searches for infographics to find exemplar models that we could discuss as a class and analyse why they were effective.
      In terms of the peer review element, I’d use a shared Google Doc for this purpose for groups of three to review and provide feedback on one another’s work. If it’s difficult to use Google Docs at your school I’d set up an Edmodo class and share the class code with the class so that everyone can join. You can then set up small groups for the class and have the kids share their reflections/feedback within the small group. As a teacher, you automatically become a member of each small group you create.
      I hope this helps,
      Jenny. 🙂

      1. Thanks so much, Jenny – that is all really helpful.

        Our students will be using Piktochart so thanks fro the saving tip. Google Docs is an option for us for sharing as well as our LMS (MyBigCampus) – your small group idea makes it very manageable.

        Browsing “Information is beautiful” is one of my favourite procrastination activities 😉

        A staff member sent me this article today which I shared with the Year 10 teachers in the hope it gives them an insight into “why”?
        http://www.edutopia.org/blog/infographics-visual-literacy-written-content-brett-vogelsinger

        1. Thanks for that link Katie. It will be really useful for the work I’m doing with my class later this term. Reading it reminds me that we did in fact use Easel.ly and not Visual.ly for our task last year! I gave students the option of using Easel.ly or Piktochart – they found it useful as some moved from one to the other throughout the course of the task. The new nature of these sites means they are a bit buggy I’m afraid. We definitely needed to be digitally resilient!

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