Posted by Lisa Marie Gonzales on August 25, 2013

Infographic of Infographics
Infographic of Infographics Source: Zabisco

Have you been impressed as I have by the myriad of infographics on sites like Zite, Pinterest and even Facebook? Wow!  So many are impressive, and I assumed professional designers were hard at work designing them. Then I discovered dozens of sites that allow infographics to be made by your average every day administrator, teacher or student.

Not so new

Infographics are those splashy pictures that transform complex principles and data into easy-to-understand graphics. And believe it or not, there is some solid theory around the use of infographics. Go all the way back to 35,000-4,000 BC when cave drawings and other symbols and pictures were used to communicate ideas. Some of these might have looked decorative in nature, but the intent was to prepare training rituals for the young, report the results of daily work (how many deer were killed on the hunt), and other practical purposes. From there, letters emerged that formed language and then graphics. Let’s not forget the work of Leonardo daVinci who worked diligently to chart mathematical, astronomical, and geographical information.

Fast forward to modern technology and you can make your resume come to life in just a few minutes, but let’s not jump head too quickly.


The world of social media, flashy websites, and new apps have pushed us into the information explosion, where some sort of pictorial representations are needed because text overload could do us all in. Think about when you pick up a newspaper (yes, for the sake of this discussion, pick up a newspaper!).  Where do your eyes gravitate?  Headlines?  Article text?  Pictures?  Graphics?  Cartoons?

Research on infographics says that text-and-graphic combinations better transfer meaning than either text or pictures alone.  The combination allows our brains to process information more quickly and are retain it in the long term. Infographics are also great for right and left brain coordination.

Create your own

Ready to try making some infographics of your own to use with with colleagues and students?  Here are some sites I recommend.

Start with, particularly if you have a LinkedIn account. The tool is still in beta, but I have huge expectations for this site as an easy go-to for pictorial representation of a traditional resume.

Simile Widgets ( is an open source tool you can use to design different types of data visualizations from exhibits to time plots.

Many of us know Tagxedo, but might not consider word clouds to be true infographics.  Yet what’s nice about Tagxedo is its easy of use and the ability to manipulate data into your selected shapes and easily save in different formats and sizes.

Finally, just for fun, Intel’s What About Me? can be used to access your Facebook profile and identify the percentages of time spent posting about certain topics.  Here’s the result from my own Facebook data!

My “What about me?” Infographic
Click image for larger view.



Presentations to Remember

Posted by Thom Dunks on December 20, 2010

Presentation applications, such as PowerPoint and Keynote, are invaluable tools in the workplace and most particularly in the world of teaching and learning.  True, they are often maligned as an impediment to getting the message across, but used well they can help you reach the mind and the heart of your audience and create a truly lasting impression.

Recently, I was impressed with a fellow named David Jakes and his ideas about applying some basic knowledge of brain biology when you are constructing a presentation.  “The optic nerve is constructed of about 1 million nerve fibers; the auditory nerve, about 30,000,” says David.  “There is a tremendous amount of bandwidth associated with the eye, suggesting that presentations should contain a visual component.”  Accordingly, he suggests we should create more visually based materials and move away from too much emphasis on text.

In his hour-long presentation, “Standing Room Only:  How to Create Unforgettable Presentations,” David provides ten strategies for improving visual presentations.  The strategies are constructed around brain-based learning and the principles of visual modalities.  Particularly germane to this discussion are his inclusion of Visual Literacy, Brain Research/Cognitive Load Theory, Locating Images, Understanding Intellectual Property, Design Considerations, and Developing Voice.

David works with high school students in Illinois and is passionate about students approaching the creation of digital presentations with understanding and integrity.

“You first want the kids to write, to write deeply.  Have them make a scholarly argument on paper. Then have them take that piece of writing and create a storyboard.  Plan a presentation. Use visuals. Use emotion.  They should be able to convince me that they are right or their ideas have merit.  You then have a deep backup document that allows you to know that they have a true understanding of the topic at hand.”

Among the important topics David covers is acquiring royalty free images for use in student presentations.  Here are just a few of the resources he recommends for you to check out: