Monday, March 27, 2023

Seven Tips for Good Infographic Design

Last week Canva made waves on social media with all of their announcements about their new AI-powered design tools. While those tools look great and I plan to use them, I think it's still important for students to learn some basic design principles instead of just relying on whatever an algorithm spits out. To that end, here's an excerpt from a review that I wrote of Randy Krum's book, Cool Infographics published back in 2013.   

In his book Randy Krum goes into much more detail on each of these key elements of good infographic design. These are the elements of good design that he outlines in his chapter about designing infographics. You can get a sample chapter of the book here.

1. Be accurate. It seems obvious, but you will find infographics are not accurate. For example, make sure your pie charts add up to 100%.

2. Tell one story really well. An infographic that tries to do too much ends up not telling a story at all.

3. The 5 second rule. Krum shares that most of the page view duration times are 5-10 seconds for infographics featured on his blog. Create infographics that tell a story quickly.

4. Big fonts are not data visualizations. Krum states, "displaying the number in a large font doesn't make it any easier for the audience to understand."

5. Minimize text. Along the lines of #4 above. This is another tip that seems obvious, yet we see text-heavy infographics all over the web.

6. Eliminate chart legends. If the viewer needs a legend, your infographic's story might not be as clear as it should be.

7. Pick a good topic. Some topics are not as suitable for infographic display as others.

Disclosure: I received a free press copy of the Cool Infographics book. 

Sunday, March 26, 2023

All About Explorers - It's Still a Great Site

All About Explorers is a site that Russel Tarr told me about many years ago. I was recently going through my archives to remove links to sites that no longer exist when I came across All About Explorers again. I was pleased to see that it's still going. 

All About Explorers developed by Gerald Aungst and Lauren Zucker, was designed to help students develop their skills in identifying valid information found on the Internet. On All About Explorers students find fake biographies of famous explorers. The biographies do contain information that is in part based on facts, the content is intentionally written to be inaccurate.

Applications for Education
Teachers who want to use All About Explorers to teach their students to be discerning consumers of information should take a look at the All About Explorers lessons and treasure hunts. The treasure hunts are short activities in which students compare information from multiple sources on the web.

The lesson plans are a series of five activities designed to introduce students to web research strategies discerning the quality of information found online. My only criticism of the lesson plans is that lesson four perpetuates the myth that .org domains are generally non-profit organizations and that they somehow have more credibility than .com or .net domains. (A quick glance at or will dispel those myths).

Saturday, March 25, 2023

Science, Slides, and History - The Week in Review

Good morning from Connecticut where we're visiting family this weekend. Yesterday, we had a great time exploring the Connecticut Science Center. We saw big snakes, sloths, and tropical butterflies before heading over the engineering wing where we made and played with all kinds of contraptions. If you ever find yourself near Hartford, Connecticut, go check out the Connecticut Science Center.

Before jumping to this week's list of the most popular posts I'd like to remind you that I'm available for on-site workshops this summer. Please send me an email at richardbyrne (at) or fill out the form on this page to learn more.

These were the week's most popular posts: 

Make More Money This Year!
If you're looking for a way to put a little more money in your pocket this year, my self-paced course How to Create and Sell Digital Products in 2023 is for you! It's one of three on-demand courses that I currently offer.

Workshops and eBooks
If you'd like to have me speak at your school or conference, please send me an email at richardbyrne (at) or fill out the form on this page. Book me for this school year and I'll include copies of my eBook for all of the teachers in your school. 

Animated Explanations
Making and Teaching With Animated Explanations is a five-part, self-paced course that teaches you how to make a variety of animations. More importantly, it teaches you why making animations is a valuable and fun classroom activity for students of all ages. 

Other Places to Follow Me:
  • The Practical Ed Tech Newsletter comes out every Sunday evening/ Monday morning. It features my favorite tip of the week and the week's most popular posts from Free Technology for Teachers.
  • My YouTube channel has more than 45,000 subscribers watching my short tutorial videos on a wide array of educational technology tools. 
  • I've been Tweeting as @rmbyrne for fifteen years. 
  • I update my LinkedIn profile a time or two every week.
  • The Free Technology for Teachers Facebook page features new and old posts from this blog throughout the week. 
  • If you're curious about my life outside of education, you can follow me on Strava.
This post originally appeared on If you see it elsewhere, it has been used without permission. Featured image captured by Richard Byrne.

Friday, March 24, 2023

Students Can Learn About Weather Patterns and Make Forecasts in the Smithsonian Weather Lab

The Smithsonian Science Education Center's Weather Lab is a simple online activity designed to help elementary and middle school students learn about weather patterns.

In the Weather Lab students select an ocean current and an air mass then try to predict the weather pattern that will result from their choices. The Weather Lab provides an overview of the characteristics of each air mass and ocean current. Students should use that information in making their weather predictions.  After making their predictions the Weather Lab will tell students if they were correct or not. In the feedback given to students they will find links to videos for further learning about each weather pattern featured in the Weather Lab.

Applications for Education
The Smithsonian Science Center's Weather Lab isn't the most robust online activity that you'll find online. That said, it is a good starting place for lessons about weather. I would have students use the Weather Lab to learn a bit about weather patterns then transition them to using real-time meteorological data to make weather forecasts for where they live.

How to Use the Latest Version of Focusable

Focusable was one of my favorite new tools in 2022. In 2023 it has continued to evolve to help teachers and students learn how to ignore distractions and focus on important tasks.

Focusable was recently updated with a new user interface designed to help you get focus and get into a flow a little more quickly than before. The new way of using Focusable begins with a short, guided "recharge" activity followed by a five or ten minute block of work time. This is slightly different than the previous version of Focusable in which "recharge" activities were separate from the "focus" workflow. 

Watch my new video that is embedded below to see an overview of how to use the latest version of Focusable

Learn more about Focusable in the following blog posts: