Infographics, short for information graphics, recently pop up everywhere. According to Wikipedia they are “a graphic visual representation of data, information or knowledge”. Here is how Cool Infographics explains with legos what an information graphic is.
I checked out three free web-based tools to create infographics. Just sign up for an account and start designing.
Piktochart comes with 7 free themes that can easily be customized. You can also build an infographic starting with a blank canvas and add blocks to it to form the layout. A variety of icons, images or uploaded images, text in various styles and sizes, charts and backgrounds are provided to fill those blocks with graphic content. You save your infographics online and embed the generated HTML code into a web page or export them as PNG or JPG files, however, the free version will contain a piktochart logo at the bottom.
Easel.ly is best suited for visualizing a concept or telling a story. There are a number of themes to chose from for customization but you can also create your individual graphics from scratch. Icons from various categories, backgrounds, shapes and your own uploaded images can be used to create infographics. The canvas size is limited to one page. The graphics are saved online, and may be downloaded as JPG files or embedded using the HTML code provided for sharing.
Infogr.am is great for creating simple infographics containing graphs as there are many choices for charts. There is a variety of design templates available for customization. You can add powerful chart, map, text, picture or video blocks to build your graphic. There are only a few colour shemes and no shapes or icons available. Your infographics are saved online. You can embed them in a web page using the HTML code provided or download your creations as PNG or PDF files.
Choose your infographic tool depending on your needs. For visualizing data using graphs, Infogr.am is best suited and easy to use. Ideas and stories can be best explained using Easel.ly. Piktochart has a lot of great features to offer but has the drawback of adding their stamp to your design when downloading your pictures.
Evernote is a free web tool for note taking, for clipping websites, capturing photos or audio notes. It can be downloaded and installed to the computer, be used online or as an app for mobile devices. Notes get synchronized across devices so they are accessible everywhere. Notebooks and stacks of notebooks help to organize notes. Tags and a search function for keywords and tags support easy retrieval of notes. Notes can be shared on Social media and by email and notebooks can be shared with others for collaboration.
With Evernote web clipper added to the browser website content can be clipped and stored as a note in Evernote.
Together with Skitch for making annotations and sketches Evernote is perfect for saving and sharing ideas.
I use Evernote for collecting ideas about a topic I am working on. On Sundays I take notes of sermons using the Evernote app on my phone and revise their content by adding links to audio recordings and bible verses. I have also started to write my journal in Evernote.
How do you use Evernote?
Since last fall I am using Scratch 1.4 in my grade 8/9 ICT class. Scratch is an easy-to-use programming environment developed by the Lifelong Kindergarten Group at the MIT Media Lab that can be downloaded for free. It helps students to understand the basic concepts of programming by using Lego-like blocks that can be snapped together.
Students create stories, animations, games and much more. They can share their work online on the Scratch website and become part of a collaborative online community. This aspect offers a great opportunity to incorporate aspects of digital citizenship into the curriculum. Check out my ScratchIT class website.
There are several Web 2.0 tools available for creating websites the easy way. For several years I have been using Google Sites to create my class website and some of my colleagues at my school have followed my example. Google Sites is really easy to use as this Beginner’s Guide shows, and there are several templates for class websites available.
Last fall a colleague and I had the opportunity to teach a workshop on how to create a class website for the teachers of my school. Here are my workshop materials.
Dropbox is a free web 2.0 tool I have just started to use for collaboration with a team and for backing up important materials and pictures online. It also helps to synchronize files between several devices.
I downloaded the Dropbox application to my computer and now I am using a Dropbox folder on my device just as any other folder, except that changes in this folder are reflected online.
For collaboration I shared an online folder with my team and anyone who joined the shared folder now can see it inside their Dropbox and will get all files kept up to date automatically.
Dropbox also allows to share links to folders and to individual files on websites. So any updates in the Dropbox folder take effect everywhere. While writing this I just realize the great potential this feature has: No more additional uploading of files to my class website when I make changes. I have to make use of this in the coming school year.
There a many differnent tools available to do screen recordings. Here are two that I recently used.
Screenr is a free and easy to use Web 2.0 tool. I used it to create short instructional screen recordings for my class that I embedded on my class website. Here are some examples stored in my account online.
Another easy to use tool for screen shots and screen recordings is Jing. The software is free to download and to install on your computer. It lets you create screen shots in png format and record videos in swf format. Picture or video files can be saved on your computer or stored and shared in the cloud on Screencast.com.
Do you have any suggestions for creating screen casts?
I usually start my site using a blank template and add one of the themes for a nice touch. For an easy beginning there are also some pre-built templates available. Each newly created site is publicly available on the web unless you choose to make it private.
There are different page types to choose from for creating new pages. I use the webpage type for my home page, the announcement type for what is happening in the most recent class, a file cabinet for all the handouts and a list type for a list of links to more ICT content on the web.
Pages can be edited in an easy to use text editor without any knowledge of HTML and after pressing the “Save” button a page goes public. Switching to HTML view is only necessary to embed code from other services.
Currently my ICT students are building web sites with Google sites. Using Screenr I produced some short instructional videos for them and embedded those on a Google Sites How To page in my class website. Have a look!
Please share your experiences with Google sites or any other website builder here!