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Friday, June 15, 2012

Three Free Tools for Creating infographics

This afternoon my friend Ken Shelton asked me in a Google+ post about tools for creating infographics. Ken's question prompted this post. I have reviewed a few tools for creating infographics this year and here they are.

Easel.ly provides a canvas on which you can build your own infographic by dragging and dropping pre-made design elements. You can use a blank canvas or build upon one of Easel.ly's themes. If Easel.ly doesn't have enough pre-made elements for you, you can upload your own graphics to include in your infographic. Your completed infographic can be exported and saved as PNG, JPG, PDG, and SVG files. Watch the video below for an overview of Easel.ly.




Infogr.am is an online tool for creating interactive charts and graphs. Soon you will be able to create interactive infographic posters on Infogr.am too. There are four basic chart types that you can create on Infogr.am; bar, pie, line, and matrix. Each chart type can be edited to use any spreadsheet information that you want to upload to your Infogr.am account. The information in that spreadsheet will be displayed in your customized chart. When you place your cursor over your completed chart the spreadsheet information will appear in small pop-up window. Your Infogr.am charts can be embedded into your blog, website, or wiki.

Visual.ly makes it easy to make your own Infographics from Twitter hashtags. To create an infographic with Visual.ly just sign-in with your Twitter ID, enter a hashtag that you want to see visualized, and select an infographic template.

The Natural iPad

A few weeks ago I wrote 10 Things You Can Do To Make Yourself an Ed Tech Star This Summer. One of the things on the list was, "try a tablet only weekend." I made this suggestion because I think that if we're going to suggest that iPads or Android tablets become the preferred 1:1 device in schools, that we should try to use them for a weekend, a week, or longer in order to really understand to how they work, their features, and their flaws. And if your school isn't going to provide teachers and students with keyboards and other accessories, don't use them yourself during your tablet-only time. In other words, try using an iPad or Android tablet in its "natural state."

Exploring NASA's Earth Observatory

This afternoon on the Google Earth Blog I read a short blog post about the largest volcanic eruption of the 20th Century. That post contained a link to NASA's Earth Observatory website which I followed and then proceeded to spend a good twenty minutes or more exploring the maps and images on the site.

NASA's Earth Observatory features satellite imagery and maps depicting what is happening on the Earth's surface, in the oceans, and in the atmosphere. There is a daily image feed and each image in it is accompanied by an explanation of its context. Some of the daily images are used for a monthly puzzler challenge. The puzzler asks you to identify what is in the image and when it was taken.

The Global Maps collection contains sixteen animated maps depicting changes over time of things like sea surface temperatures, land temperatures, snow cover, rainfall, and carbon monoxide levels in the atmosphere. You can play the animations online or download them as QuickTime files. You can also download the data sets that were used in the construction of the animations.

Applications for Education
NASA's Earth Observatory has a small set of seven lesson plans for elementary school and middle school use. The lessons plans cover biomes, air quality, and water quality. Having students try the image puzzler could be a good way to get them to use their knowledge of geography and use Google Earth to solve the puzzle.

Seven Chrome Apps for Students to Use Offline

Earlier this week Google added a new section off featured offline apps in the Chrome Web Store. The section of offline apps is quite large. I went through and picked out seven free offline Chrome Web Apps that could be useful for teachers and students.

The Daum Equation Editor is a free, online tool for quickly writing equations that you can save as text or images to use in documents. You can use the equation editor by typing on your keyboard and or selecting symbols from the Daum Equation Editor's menu.

Magic Scroll is a Chrome web app that you can use to read ePub files on your desktop or laptop even if you do not have an internet connection.

Quick Note is a sticky note application that runs in your Chrome web browser. You can take notes offline in your browser and sync when you reconnect to the web. If you utilize the Chrome syncing option, you can access your notes from any computer. Quick Note can sync with Diigo too.

Useful Periodic Table is a reference app for chemistry students. Useful Periodic Table contains the information high school chemistry students need. The app also includes some practice quiz activities.

If you or your students struggle to come up with strong passwords, Password Chameleon is an app to try. This app will generate a random, secure password for any site that you visit.

Geo Notepad is a Chrome application that offers a different take on reminders and notes. While most note-taking and reminder services are based on time stamps, Geo Notepad is based on location. When you write notes, you can assign them to locations. Then when you return to that location Geo Notepad will show you a list of your notes from that place. For example, I could create a list of notes that are tied to my house and a list tied to school. Then when I get to school in the morning Geo Notepad will open the list of school-based notes for me.

If you're a frequent user of Google Docs like I am, you will want to install the Chrome App for Google Docs. The Chrome App for Google Docs allows you to edit your documents when you're not online. When you reconnect to the web your documents will be synced to your Google Docs online account.

Evernote Adds Related Items to the Web Clipper

Evernote is the tool that I've been using to manage my bookmarks for almost a year now. I have Evernote installed on all of my computers and mobile devices. Yesterday, Evernote added a handy feature to the web clipper product. The web clipper, which is the tool I use for bookmarking, now includes related items. Now when you clip an item on the web Evernote will show you two related items from your account.

Applications for Education
I've occasionally worked with students on research projects and watched them bookmark the same site multiple times because they had forgotten that they saw it a day or two earlier. In fact, there have been times when I've done that myself. The related items feature in the Evernote web clipper could help me and my students avoid that pattern. The related items feature could also be helpful when you're trying to assemble a bundle of links around a particular topic.

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