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:
- well-designed presentation of interaction data - a matter of substance, statistics and design.
- consists of complex ideas communicated with clarity, precision and efficiency.
- that which gives the viewer the greatest number of ideas in the shortest time with the least ink in the smallest space.
- always multivariate.
- 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
Here’s a suggestion for high school teachers. Postpone a lesson you had planned for next week and use the time to explore the cacophonous infosphere spawned by the apprehension of the suspects in the Boston bombings. If that media circus tells us anything, it’s that we need a lesson in digital hygiene and responsible use.
It’s also a good chance for students to hone their close reading skills. The events should be fresh in everyone’s mind. Ask students to reflect back on network news and social media coverage of the manhunt using these three critical thinking prompts: What did it say? How did it say it? What’s it mean to me?
This morning, Twitter broke the story of the events in Watertown MA. Following the hashtags #Watertown and #MITShooting, I selected a few of the early tweets for a Storify. Twitter scooped the major news organizations, but are we ready to curate our own news?
I’m prepping for an “iPad in the Classroom” workshop and I thought I’d try Haiku Deck – a free presentation app for the iPad. It’s an impressive and easy to use tool for creating a knock-out presentation on the iPad – a great way for teachers and students to quickly share their ideas with the classroom and the digital world beyond. Here’s a deck I created in a few minutes.
I had a great time recording a podcast with Mark Hofer and David Carpenter for their series Ed Tech Co-Op.
Mark led off by asking me to reflect back on my some of the driving themes in my career. I confessed that as a novice teacher, I mimicked my experience as a high school student and taught primarily via lecture mixed with an occasional “guess what the teacher is thinking” whole-group discussion.
But I recalled an “aha” moment after repeated visits to the art class in the classroom next door. I realized that if the art teacher taught art, the way I taught history, his students would be sitting there watching him paint.
For years progressive educators have known the textbook was dead. Apple’s latest iPad Mini / iBooks Author event (October 23, 2012) suggests we are closing in on the tipping point that should hasten its demise. I’ll let others focus on the viability of the iPad as a textbook replacement in this era of shrinking budgets. Instead I’ll focus on three reasons why teaming iBooks Author (iBA) with the iPad can turn students from passive consumers of information, into active researchers, thinkers, designers and writers.
Internet Archive just launched “TV News Search & Borrow,” a searchable collection now contains 350,000 news programs collected over 3 years from national U.S. networks and stations in San Francisco and Washington D.C. User’s can specify search term, network and TV show.
Users can generate word clouds from broadcast transcripts and share video clips. Here’s some tips on how to use this great research tool for teachers and students.
Data comparing key metrics from Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and Google+. Digging beneath the number of accounts to data on activity and sharing. Some fuel for the debate: Google Plus – “It’s Really Popular Vs It’s A Ghost Town.”
When’s the last time you checked your G+?
I recently gave a webinar on getting started with the flipped classroom. Lots of good questions – seems like many teachers see the value in using “flipping” to redefine their classrooms. They recognize that the traditional classroom was filled with a lot of lower-order, information transmission that can be off loaded to “homework” via content-rich websites and videos. That frees up more classroom time as a center for student interaction, production and reflection.
Download my slide deck.
A recent report by the Pew Internet and American Life Project entitled “The rise of e-reading” details the profile of the e-reader and contrasts that profile with readers of printed books.
The rise of e-books in American culture is part of a larger story about a shift from printed to digital material. Using a broader definition of e-content in a survey ending in December 2011, some 43% of Americans age 16 and older say they have either read an e-book in the past year or have read other long-form content such as magazines, journals, and news articles in digital format on an e-book reader, tablet computer, regular computer, or cell phone.