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.




Posted by Devin Vodicka on April 18, 2011

Do you have a fitbit?  I do.  It’s  a tiny device that can be worn on a belt clip or armband and tracks movement at all times.  When I get within range of my wireless sync station, my activity becomes available via an interactive website with a number of analytic tools.  These activity reports track calories burned, number of steps taken, net mileage, and a “performance level” of my movement for the day.  Here is one of my recent reports on a day where I was reasonably active.

Notice how the data is recorded in 5-minute increments.

The fitbit also creates a record of your sleep, including the number of times you awaken during the night.

Individual data can then be compared with peers to determine relative performance:


Finally, there is also a food log with numerous reporting options as well:

This abundance of data is typical of the potential that we have now in the digital age.  One tiny, relatively cheap device is generating detailed, drill-down performance metrics that can be displayed in a number of different ways to help me understand my own activity and performance.

Imagine the potential if every student had their own fitbit, tracking their performance in real-time with immediate feedback that can be used to help the students to understand themselves, set goals, and make adjustments in their own behaviors.  Now imagine that it wasn’t just tracking physical activity, but also the ability to apply learning in a meaningful way.  How would schools change?  How would teaching change?  How would kids change and how would society begin to change?