Tuesday, 23 April 2013

Infographics Made Simple

I've tried out quite a few free online infographics generators and found that they tend to be either:
  • too simple and restricted in their free versions
  • don't have all the functionality I would like to use
  • or put too high a cognitive load on the students when the purpose of the assessment is not to learn to navigate a particular website but to research, analyse and synthesize information and to present it in a visually compelling way.
Hello Powerpoint! Yes you heard me correctly, I was quite excited today when I realised that I could use Powerpoint to create an infographic and more importantly, that my students could easily and simply create an infographic that looks good with a minimum of fuss.  I found several websites that provided me with free templates to use however, in the end I decided to just start with a blank canvas.

The secret...
Well it's not really a secret, is to change the page length in Design > Page Setup

Creative Commons Licence
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License.

Some our students are about to embark on their first infographic assessment involving the creation of an infographic collaboratively as well as having to present their infographic. I have to present some basic information to get them started.  To this end I decided to model the creation of an infographic using Powerpoint. What I really loved was that by using the inbuilt clipart I could bypass the whole attribution process and just focus on getting my ideas across. This infographic is included above.

To ensure we are maximising students' learning opportunities this project will be:
  • Collaborative with both shared responsibility and substantive decision making by the group members
  • Knowledge building with the added bonus that using Powerpoint means that the students can focus on their content and display rather than learning the software
  • Require critical ICT use - although students could create a poster with scissors and glue; we have decided to give them an authentic audience by including various infographics in the school newsletter over the coming weeks.

Thursday, 11 April 2013

Easily Managing Video Production

For quite a while I struggled to find an effective way for students to manage their video projects. Working in a secondary school means most of the projects I work help with are documentaries, however the same problem applied to creative projects as well.

After being fortunate enough to meet and listen to Jason Ohler at a conference last year I rethought my strategy. Jason's focus was on the art of storytelling and he has plenty of resources on this at his website. The most important thing I learned was that students get so bogged down in the search for media that they fail to write an effective story or script.  This process frees the creative writing process from the production process, and by stressing to your students that you don't want them to look for media at first, you minimise this effect.

From Jason's ideas and resources we came up with the following strategy to manage their video projects which is working extremely effectively with our students.

Story Telling

  1. Brainstorm your story (even if it is a documentary it is a type of story)
  2. Share your story with someone else (verbally) - get constructive feedback to identify areas which require clarification
  3. Write your story
  4. Read your story to someone else - again get feedback
  5. Rewrite/edit your story - if you think a first draft is your best work you're being lazy
  1. Create a table with four columns - Number, Story, Media, Source
  2. Fill in the number column 1, 2, 3....
  3. Cut and paste your story into the Story column in small manageable sections (possibly sentences or even words if you want to use different pictures for each word)
  4. Fill in the Media column with descriptions of the types of images you will use
  5. Start finding media
  6. If you take your own images and video life is so much easier as there is no referencing involved
  7. If you are using Creative Commons images get a browser plugin such as Open Attribute  so that you can quickly and easily get citation information which you then paste into the fourth column, Source.
  8. Number your image files. Call the image for row 1, 1.jpg and the video for row 2, 2.mp4 (unfortunately this does not work on an iPad without using a computer :-( )
  1. Record your audio - free software includes Audacity on a PC; if you have a Mac you probably have Garage Band
  2. Import all your audio and image\video files into your video editor (in most cases the numbering will be in order)
  3. Drag your audio to the audio track
  4. Try bulk dragging your images onto the timeline (most video editors will put them in the same order they appear in the media list)
  5. All that remains is to adjust the time each image or video is shown for using the audio track as your guide.
  6. Remember to export or save the file independently - do not try to hand in a project file, no one will be able to view your masterpiece.