Thursday, April 12, 2012

Tools And Resources For Creating Infographics


 You have probably seen them before. There are so many out there on a wide variety of topics. Here are just a few. (Click the images to see more):

The Computer Can Be A Dirty Place
Visualizing Wikipedia
Even Batman has an infographic
These really are a great way to visualize data. And believe it or not, you don't have to be a graphic designer to create them. All it takes is some data you want to visualize and knowing where to go to create them.

Here are a few of my favorite sites and tools to use when creating infographics.

Wordle: Chances are this is one you have heard of. But in case you haven't, Wordle takes chunks of text, speeches, songs, or just lists of words and creates graphics out of them. The larger the word, the more often appears in the text. It's a really great tool for seeing which words are most emphasized. While it might not look like the others above it's still a visual representation of data, it's just the data is words instead of facts or numbers. It doesn't get much simpler than using Register for a free account and select a story. They have a limited amount to choose from. They all revolve around Facebook or Twitter in someway. Here is one I created on #edchat. You can change the design, look and feel so there is some customization but you can't import you own data...yet. According to the site, there are plans to open it up a bit and make some of the creation tools available.

Stat Silk: This is a set of tools that you can download to create interactive maps and charts. You have the ability to import your own data and some of the stuff you can create is pretty slick. You could then take the static images and use them as part of a larger graphic or let them stand alone. It's very easy to use, multiplatform and free.

Creately: Creatly is an online mindmapping program that is pretty powerful. You can create all sorts of diagrams and you can do it collaboratively so this could work really well in the classroom. You can even try it out without signing up for an account.

Google Public Data Explorer: It probably goes without saying but Google has access to lots of data. On this site they make it very easy to mine public data and return some amazing visuals and animations. Want to know what the unemployment rates in Europe or the birthing trends in the U.S. look like? Here is one I created on the population sizes of various states after the last census. Again, this would be a great site for gathering images and graphs.

Aviary Phoenix-Once you gather your images, charts and graphics, you are going to need a way to put them together. It doesn't get much better than Aviary Phoenix. A very powerful, browser-based, image editing program, you can import images and create many layers to produce the infographic of your dreams. It sounds complicated but it is a fairly easy program to learn and use. Oh and its free!

Kathy Schrock has an entire webiste dedicated to using infographics in the classroom. She has gathered a ton of apps, sites, lessons and ideas. It's definitely worth checking out.

What other sites do you use to visualize data? Come across any interesting infographics you have used in the classroom? Leave a comment below.

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