DigiThings 7: Infographics

This week we will be looking at data visualisation tools.  These are another way in which you can engage your students as they can help to get a concept across in a visual form.  We normally associate Infographics with a highly polished well designed poster that looks like some graphic designer has spent 100s of hour on.  But I will introduce you to some tools that will enable you to get a similar effect in a lot less time.

Data visualisation is effectively another metaphor that we can use to tell a story, much in the same way we use contextual examples. The use of these metaphors or stories make it easier for to whom your are explaining the concept to latch onto it.  To give you a better understanding of what an infographic take a look at the guidance given by the ONS

With this in mind take a look a http://www.easel.ly/ . they have an introduction video at the top of the page showing how to use the software. Under this is a number of templates that you can that you can start working with straight away.

As part of the task for this week, using the Easel attempt to describe one of the following:

(note: on their site they have a number of examples, click on one that you feel is the most appropriate and you will be taken straight into their editor)

  • An explanation on how π relates to the radius of a circle

  • A world map showing some of the cities with the largest populations

  • the consistencies of ingredients of your favorite drink(s)

  • The types of jobs that your students go into once they graduate

  • take some data/concept form your own practice and use the tool to visualise it.

I think how infographics can influence our perceptions of the world is fascinating. They also require good information literacy skills as they can sometimes be very misleading..  One of the most pervasive infographics, that we do not think of as one, is a world map.  http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Mercator_projection_SW.jpg  So many times we have seen this image in so many places we take it for granted as an acurate representaion of the world.  But of course it is not, as when attempting to represent a spherical object on a flat surface distortions will occur.  For example the image that I have displayed above is correct in terms of the shapes of the land masses but distorts area towards the polls. See http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mercator_projection and compare this to http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Peters_projection .   This is another quite though provoking infographic on our perceptions of the world  http://static02.mediaite.com/geekosystem/uploads/2010/10/true-size-of-africa.jpg


  • Has these alternative projections of the world changed your perception of how the world look?

  • Why do you think the Mecator Projection has become so prevalent to how we perceive the world?

  • What effect does this have on our perception of the importance of certain countries?

  • Why is north up?


This manipulation of data to alter our perceptions is not just limited to maps however.  Here in an interesting article on the good and bad of infographics? http://idsgn.org/posts/good-and-evil-of-infographics/

16 Useless infographics


About Edd

As Learning Technologist at Plymouth University I am looking for ways to improve the student learning Experience through the use of E-learning tools. I enjoy exploring new technologies especially platform neutral ones that promote any-time, any-place, any-where learning. One of my goals is to promote and develop the digital literacies of academic staff. My blog is located at : http://technologyenhancedlearning.net/edd/ you can also follow me on Twitter @eddbolton All of my blog posts/ tweets are personal opinion and in no way represent the views Plymouth University.
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