Thursday, December 8, 2011

Deconstructing Infographics

Lately it seems like every week a new infographic makes the rounds through the various social media circles of Twitter, Google+, and blogs. This afternoon as I was looking at another infographic that seemed to be making statements that were a little hard to believe, this time it was one about germs found on computer keyboards, I started to think about deconstructing infographics.

The problem I have with some infographics is that they present statistics or statements taken out of context. Some infographics include links to their sources and others do not. I think that a good exercise in research for students could be to investigate the statements and statistics presented on infographics. In the process of doing that our students might begin to see how an individual or organization can skew a story depending upon which statements or statistics they take out of context. Of course, as an exercise in identifying bias you can have students investigate the organization publishing a particular infographic. 

For the inverse of what I'm proposing, see Kathy Schrock's Infographics as a Creative Assessment

What do you think about infographics? Are they useful for classrooms or not? 

Famigo Sandbox - Create a 'Kids-only" Section on Your Android Phone

Famigo is a service offering reviews of and recommendations of apps for kids to use on Android phones and iPhones. I wrote a review of it earlier this year. Since then Famigo launched a free Android app called Famigo Sandbox.

Famigo Sandbox is an Android app that allows you to create a "kids-only" section on your Android phone. With Famigo Sandbox installed and activated when you hand your phone to your child your child cannot accidentally access your contacts, dial the phone, or access apps that are not in the Famigo Sandbox. Famigo Sandbox also provides you with recommendations for new apps for your child to try.

The two minute video below provides an overview of the Famigo Sandbox Android app.

Applications for Education
I don't know of any teachers who are in the habit of handing their phones to young students. But if you have young children of your own that occasionally use your phone to play an educational game, this app could be for you.

NOAA - Explore Extreme Weather 2011

Extreme Weather 2011 is a newer feature of NOAA's website. Extreme Weather 2011 takes you through thirteen extreme weather events of 2011. In the files you'll find videos, weather charts, and articles about the each of the storms. After reviewing each weather event you can evaluate your own extreme weather readiness and learn how to prepare yourself for extreme weather.

Here is one of the videos that NOAA Extreme Weather 2011 has to demonstrate how quickly a wildfire can spread in the wind.

Applications for Education
If you teach Earth science lessons NOAA Extreme Weather 2011 could be a good place to find current, relevant examples to use in your lessons.

Another Edublog Awards Post

On Monday, I posted that voting is open for the 2011 Edublog Awards. In that post I wrote that Free Technology for Teachers had been nominated in two categories. As my friend Beth Still pointed out, I was actually nominated in three categories; Best Ed Tech Blog, Best Individual Blog, and Lifetime Achievement.

If you're so inclined, I would appreciate your vote in the Best Ed Tech Blog category.

Even if you don't participate in the voting I still encourage you to take a look at the list of nominees in all of the categories. The nominee list is a great place to find new-to-you blogs.

Videos - Black Death and Other Germy Things

The Open University, whose works I've featured in the past (here, here), recently released a new series of videos called Seven Wonders of the Microbe World. The Seven Wonders of the Microbe World is a seven part series of short videos exploring things like the Black Death, antibiotics, and food preservation. You can watch the videos individually or watch them as one combined 25 minute long video. I've embedded the Black Death video below.

Applications for Education
If you're going to use these videos in your classroom, you should know that the first video in the series does talk about the role of microbes in brewing beer. If that's not a topic you wish to have in your classroom, watch the other six segments but don't watch the 25 minute combined video. The other videos could be good for introducing students to the role of microbes in many facets of life. Watching the Black Death video reminded me a bit of reading Guns, Germs, and Steel.

H/T to Open Culture

Logotype Maker - Quickly Create Neat Logos

Logotype Maker is a free tool for creating your own custom logos. It's quite simple to use. To create your logo just type in your name or a phrase and Logotype Maker will generate a random selection of logos based on your entry. You can refresh the screen as many times as you like to generate a new set of logos. If you find logos that you like, bookmark them and download them individually or as a complete set of PNG files. You can customize the size, color, and font style of your logos on Logotype Maker. You can also customize logos by uploading your own PNG image to be used in your logo.

Applications for Education
If you have students creating individual blogs or websites as digital portfolios, let them customize the look of those pages by using Logotype Maker to create a custom logo for it.