Using Web 2.0 tools & infographics

I have been using Web 2.0 tools in my classroom almost since I started teaching.  I’ve been fortunate to have almost a 1:1 situation for most of my 14 years of teaching.  Web 2.0 tools allows me to let students explore, create, receive immediate feedback, have endless practice, communicate, be independent, differentiate instruction, remediate, and be fun.

Some of my favorite web 2.0 tools are www.quia.com, www.wordle.net, www.twitter.com, www.pbworks.com, www.photobucket.com, www.compfight.com, www.wordpress.com, slideshare.net, www.animoto.com, www.xtranormal.com, and many more.  For more great web 2.0 tools check out http://www.goedonline.com/101-web-tools-for-teachers

My favorite web 2.0 tools are hands down Google tools.  http://drive.google.com allows me to access and create collaborative text documents, spreadsheets, presentations, drawings and most recently fusion tables.  Note to add fusion tables to your Google Drive you will need to choose “connect more apps” at the bottom of the create button drop down options.

One thing I am know for is my passion for spreadsheets.  Why? Because when you are able to control and manipulate your own data, to have the results display in a way that is useful to you and not in a way that is prescribed by a pre-made report, you are powerful.  You have the ability to make informed decisions and to expedite your time. When looking at student data you are able to modify your instruction and approach to make meaningful and powerful, and make personal impacts on students.

There are many reasons people say they do not like data and spreadsheets and I believe the number one reason is they have been the victim of bad data usage   It is delivered in a way that is confusing, not relevant, not current, and boring.

I have noticed infographics have become very popular.  I would like to point out that infographics are data and statistics.  Somehow what was boring and confusing is actually extremely interesting when presented in a way that is visually pleasing, contexual and gets you thinking.

If I want to front load students with information, an infographic I create is a great way to do that.  If I want students to do research, think critically or engage in the information having them create an infographic is a great activity.

There are many great web 2.0 tools to create infograhics with.
http://visual.ly/
http://www.easel.ly/
http://infogr.am/
I particularly like http://www.ewcpresenter.com/ since it is HTML5

Circling back to Google, even though the above web 2.0 infographic tools are great, I really enjoy using Google Draw to create my infographics.  Although I lose out on pre-made graphics and backgrounds, I gain all the things I love about Google tools.

  • All of my documents are in Google Draw, I don’t have to remember which website houses my graphics.
  • Blue share button.  I can make my graphics publicly visible or private between collaborators. I can allow multiple people to edit it at the same time.
  • Publishing.  File->Publish to the Web allows me to share and display my infographic easily and continue to edit without having to republish or update.

An intro to infographics activity I would do is to have students find an article on a topic that is of interest to them and contains statistical information.  Their assignment would be to make meaning of the article visually through an infographic.  Click here to see a sample template to start students to do this.

Students would be provided with short tutorials in both text and screen cast that demonstrates different infographic techniques.  They could work together with a partner since Google Draw allows for simultaneous collaboration and also a revision history so I can see how each student contributed.

The students would need an understanding of number sense to complete the project, it may be helpful to create a resource page with videos to remind students about concepts such as percentages, ratios, proportions, and other essentials to summarizing data.

The students would be required to analyze the data given and determine what is the best way to express that information visually.  Using the comment features in a Google Doc the students could justify their choices for the different visual elements.

The 4 C’s for 21 century learners are collaboration, creativity, critical thinking and communication.  Using Google Draw to create infographics addresses all 4 of these skills.

Link to the Google Drawing which contains the original infographic that this was modeled after.

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