5 Rules of Infographic Excellence

» 14 October 2013 » In Commentary, Visualizations » No Comments

txkcd_infographic

xkcd's brilliant mockery of the explosion of "info-junk" (at left) should remind us that the best infographics should efficiently combine quantitative data, prompt pattern recognition and cogent visual storytelling.

Perhaps aspiring infographic designers would do well to revisit the work of the Edward Tufte, the guru of the art form. I've had a chance to attend one of his inspiring workshops, but you easily appreciate his thinking from his books. In his classic “The Visual Display of Quantitative Information," he lays out his principles of Graphical Excellence (p 51) Graphical excellence is:

  1. well-designed presentation of interaction data - a matter of substance, statistics and design.
  2. consists of complex ideas communicated with clarity, precision and efficiency.
  3. that which gives the viewer the greatest number of ideas in the shortest time with the least ink in the smallest space.
  4. always multivariate.
  5. requires telling the truth about data.

In the same book he showcases what he feels to be the best narrative graphic of space and time - Charles Joseph Minard representation of Napoleon’s ill-fated invasion of Russia in 1812. Six variable are plotted - the size of the army, it's location on a two-dimensional surface, direction of the army's movement, and temperatures on various dates during the retreat from Moscow. The comparative sizes of Napoleon’s invading army (in tan) to his meager retreating forces (in black) tell the story with eloquence.

Click images to enlarge
Minard Napoleon's Iinvasion

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Have a Minute for the Shortest TED Talk Ever?

» 19 September 2012 » In Commentary, Presentations, Visualizations » No Comments

shortest-TED featured

Who needs PowerPoint when you have stones? He even finds time to add a reflective question as a kicker. This talk ‘happened’ during a spontaneous interview with Hans Rosling, the famous TED speaker. Hans joined us at the TEDxSummit 2012 in Doha, April 15 — 20, Qatar for another memorable TED talk on global population predictions.

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Infographic – Six Emerging Educational Technologies

» 24 February 2012 » In Commentary, Ed Tech, Social Web, Students, Teachers, Visualizations, Web 2.0 » 1 Comment

Six emerging featured

The 2011 Horizon report identified six new technologies that will affect teaching and learning in the K-12 education community over the next five years. Head to the vendor area of an educational conference and you’ll see a “top-down” vision of innovation in schools – expensive stuff that delivers information – lots of flashy equipment like display systems, interactive whiteboards, etc. They might give the illusion of modern, but in fact they’re just a glitzy versions of the old standby – teaching as telling. In fact, the best innovation in instructional practice is coming from the “bottom up” – from teachers who find effective ways to harness the creative energy of their students. These teachers don’t simply deliver information to kids, they craft lessons where students can research, collaborate, and reflect on what they’re learning. They harness a flood of new platforms that enable students “see” information in new ways and support a more self-directed style of learning.

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Following the Backchannel at COSA 11

» 04 August 2011 » In Events, Visualizations » No Comments

cosa-11-small

Here’s your backchannel resource to the 2011 ODE / COSA Summer Assessment Institute in Eugene Oregon. August 3-5, 2011. It features both Wiffiti visualizer and Storify social web curating tool.

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My TypePad to WordPress Conversion

» 06 July 2011 » In Commentary » 4 Comments

TP2WP

Thinking of migrating from TypePad to WordPress? When I first started blogging back in ’05 I was a bit confused by WordPress, so I opted for TypePad. TypePad has been easy to use, but I’ve enviously watched WordPress evolve into a far superior platform. Here’s how Foliovision smoothly managed my recent move.

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PBL Resource Site – How to Plan, Manage and Evaluate

» 16 June 2011 » In Strategies, Students » No Comments

stem-pre-conference-featured

Here’s a site I created for my recent project-based learning workshop. You’ll find links to a variety of resources to help teachers get started using a PBL approach in their classrooms – handouts, videos, project ideas – plus tips on how to plan, manage, and evaluate PBL.

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Don’t Teach Them Facts – Let Student Discover Patterns

» 07 June 2011 » In Commentary, Strategies, Students » 14 Comments

leaf

It’s unfortunate that student don’t get to use their innate perceptual skills more often in the classroom. Instead of discovering patterns on their own, student are “taught” to memorize patterns developed by someone else. Rather than do the messy work of having to figure out what’s going on and how to group what they see – students are saddled with graphic organizers which take all the thinking out of the exercise. Filling out a Venn diagram isn’t analysis – it’s information filing. Instead of being given a variety of math problems to solve that require different problem-solving strategies, students are taught a specific process then given ten versions of the same problem to solve for homework. No pattern recognition required here – all they have to do is simply keep applying the same procedures to new data sets. Isn’t that what spreadsheets are for?

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SmartPhone – Dumb School

» 26 May 2011 » In Commentary, Social Web, Web 2.0 » 1 Comment

dumb-phone

The school workstation doesn’t “know” students as well as their smartphone does. Their mobile carries a wealth of information that’s important to them. And the school computer doesn’t do “place” at all. That’s a stark contrast to students’ mobiles, which geo-browse via the growing number of locational apps and geo-tagged information stream.

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Google Chromebook: 1-to-1 Computing for $180 per Student?

» 13 May 2011 » In Commentary, Ed Tech » 4 Comments

This week Google launched the Chromebook – a cloud-based "laptop" priced at $20 per month. That's $180 per student for a nine-month school year. Not a bad price for 1 to 1. It's built on the already popular Google Chrome and Google apps platform. (I'm using both with increasing regularity).  It will be a tempting […]

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The Inconvenient Truth About Textbooks

» 29 April 2011 » In Commentary, Ed Tech, Publishing » 2 Comments

backpacking-textbooks-featured

I just went to the iTunes App Store, and in one impulsive click, downloaded Al Gore’s companion app to his book “Our Choice: A Plan to Solve the Climate Crisis.” It’s an immersive learning environment that begs the question – $4.99 iPad app or $49 textbook? Watch this video and you decide.

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