V is for Visuals #EdublogsClub

This is my response to the this week’s prompt as a part of the Edublogs Club challenge: write a post that includes an image.

Picture This
“Picture This” by mrkrndvs is licensed under CC BY-SA

Robert Schuetz posted about the power of images for blogging. He argued that,

Readers are more likely to view and remember blog posts that include visual content.

Schuetz provides a range of evidence to support this.

I like to include visuals in my posts. They involve a quote from the village, with a corresponding Lego graphic. I often use the pictures created by JustLego101. Although I used to use Google Drawings, more lately I have turned to Google Slides as I can then have a master template and it works on mobile. I have elaborated on this here.

Some might say this is branding, however I prefer to see it as just another form of expression. I don’t think everyone goes to the same length for images, happy enough to post whatever comes up in Compfight or making quick quotes with Quozio. Here then are a collection of bloggers whose visual choices have inspired me over time:

#3ofme via Amy Burvall

Amy Burvall: You know it when you see them, Burvall’s black and pink sketches made with Paper53 are unique. Whether it be a quote or an icon, she uses her distinct style to communicate her thinking.

Image via Austin Kleon

Austin Kleon: Known for blackout poetry and graphical sketches, similar to Burvall Kleon has a carefree style (although I am sure it takes plenty of effort). He often summarises his thinking in a concise manner. Beyond his blog, Kleon’s images usually find their way into his books and weekly newsletter.

Image drawn by Bryan Mathers

Bryan Mathers: Like Kleon and Burvall, Mathers has a distinct style, often representing metaphors visually. Also using a range of apps, including Paper53, he captures ideas in a complex and concise manner. He is also the man behind artistic updates at both Reclaim Hosting and Hack Education.

Sylvia Duckworth: You would be hard pressed to find a teacher who hasn’t been to a professional development session somewhere along the way that has incorporated one of Duckworth’s sketchnotes. These are not only engaging, but always informative. Although there are sketchnotes still available via Flickr, the majority are now available through her book.

Image by Silvia Tolisano and used with permission

Silvia Rosenthal Tolisano: In response to Robert Schuetz’ post, Rosenthal Tolisano described how she thinks through her blog posts by creating a visual. Her sketchnotes are a great example of how visuals can unite a range of ideas to support further elaborations.

Image via Jackie Gerstein

Jackie Gerstein: Similar to Tolisano, Gerstein often creates sketches that collect together all her thoughts on an idea. These are often incorporated into her presentations, many of which she shares on SlideShare.

Image via Richard Wells

Richard Wells: Wells has a knack of telling a whole story within an infographic. Although often linked to a post, they can very well act as provocations in themselves. He creates his images using Apple Keynote.

Bill Ferriter: With a mixture of sketches and digital creations, Ferriter has an eye and an ear for  poignant messages. Along with Burvall, Ferriter’s images (and sharing through Flickr) were one of my original inspirations for creating graphics.

Alan Levine: It might seem counterintuitive to include Levine in this list as most of his images are simply photographs, but what stands out are that so many of the images he uses are his own. So often when I read his work I am amazed at the ability to find an image that matches. A great proponent of Creative Commons, because it is not just about digging in, but also sharing back.


So there are people whose choice of images has inspired me. What about you? Who are the visual bloggers that inspire you? As always, comments welcome.


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A Guide to Visualisations

Dictionary.com defines visualisation as:

To make visual or visible.
To form a mental image of.
I would add to this and suggest that to ‘visualise’ is to make visible something that was not necessarily visible before. There are many ways of doing this. Some involve graphs and numbers, while others are more creative in their expression. Here then are some different types of visualisation with possible resources that you can use to create them:

Brainstorm


flickr photo shared by mrkrndvs under a Creative Commons ( BY-SA ) license

A brainstorm is about gathering spontaneous ideas around a specific topic or idea. Although there are many variations, one of the keys is to hold back judgement in order to find the limits. An example of one such variation is NoTosh’s 100 ideas in ten minutes. Some programs to support brainstorming include Answergarden, Padlet, Dotstorming, Socrative, Poll Everywhere and Google Apps. while Richard Byrne has compared a number of options. What is important is the ability to collaborate.

Word Cloud


flickr photo shared by mrkrndvs under a Creative Commons ( BY-SA ) license

An extension of the brainstorm, the word or tag cloud involves visualising text as a cloud. Usually one word at the time, the size of the text is dictated by the amount of times it is represented. Word clouds can also be used to measure the frequency of words in a text. Some programs used to create word clouds include Wordle, Word It Out, TagxedoABCya, Wordclouds.com and Tag Cloud Generator for Google Apps.

Mind Map


flickr photo shared by mrkrndvs under a Creative Commons ( BY-SA ) license

Beginning with a central idea, mind maps involve adding branches and keywords to build a deeper understanding. Colours and images are used to convey more meaning. Although they can be drawn, there are also a range of programs you can use to create mind maps, including bubbl.us, Freemind, Connected Mind and Google Drawings.

Concept Map


flickr photo shared by mrkrndvs under a Creative Commons ( BY-SA ) license

Like the mind map, the purpose of a concept map is to present knowledge. However, the structure is not so rigid. Instead, there is a free form which can lend itself to more complexity. Although the same applications used to create a mind map can be used to make a concept map, some additions include XMind and CMap.

Flowcharts


flickr photo shared by mrkrndvs under a Creative Commons ( BY-SA ) license

Flowcharts are a means for visualising processes and workflows. They use a range of shapes, each with a different purpose. A prime example is the representation of algorithms, an essential element of the new Digital Technologies curriculum. Some programs to support brainstorming include Lucidchart, Google Drawings, Gliffy and Draw.io.

Graphic Organisers


flickr photo shared by mrkrndvs under a Creative Commons ( BY-SA ) license

Graphic organisers involve using a visual aid to develop knowledge and understanding. There are many different types of organisers, including relational (fishbone), classifications (KWL), sequencing (ladder), compare/contrast (Venn diagram) and concept development (story web). An easy way to create graphic organiser is with these Google Drawings templates from Matt Miller.

Sketchnoting


flickr photo shared by mrkrndvs under a Creative Commons ( BY-SA ) license

Sketchnoting is about helping us think deeper by mixing, matching and making links using text, image, structure and flow. Some call it visual note-taking, others doodling. For some it is a useful way of summarising different content, while for others it is a creative way to brainstorm new ideas. There are a range of resources and presentations to help with sketchnoting including Sketchnoting FOR Beginners (Silvia Rosenthal Tolisano), Brain Doodles, Sketchnoting for Beginners (Sylvia Duckworth) and How I Teach Sketchnoting (Royan Lee). I have also created a Youtube playlist of useful videos.

Infographics


flickr photo shared by mrkrndvs under a Creative Commons ( BY-SA ) license

A mixture of text, images and data visualisations, infographics are designed to communicate information quickly and clearly. Like sketchnotes, infographics do not necessarily have a set structure. It is however common for them to be long and skinny. This is to fit them within width of a blog. Some programs that help with making infographics include infog.ram, Canva, Piktochart and Google Drawings.

Timelines

Timelines are a means for visualising a period of time chronologically and with a consistent scale. This scale can be days, years, months, it just depends on the topic in question. There are a few applications that allow you to create digital timelines, including Dipity, Time RimeRead Write ThinkTimetoast, TimeLineCurator, MyHistro and TimelineJS. Just note, TimelineJS requires Google Apps.

Comic Strips


flickr photo shared by mrkrndvs under a Creative Commons ( BY-SA ) license

An interpretative visual means of presenting ideas, comic strips often lend themselves to storytelling. Some applications that support the creation of comics include Create Your Own Marvel Comic, MakeBeliefsComix, Chogger and Witty.

Mash-ups


flickr photo shared by mrkrndvs under a Creative Commons ( BY-SA ) license

Doug Belshaw suggests that, “remixing, re-appropriation and riffing off other people’s work just seems to be part of what we do as human beings.” There are many ways of mashing-up visuals. Often this involves taking something that is used in one context and re-appropriating it for another. This can include making creative maps or adding commentary to an image in the creation of a meme. There are no specific programs used to create mash-ups as there are no specific mash-ups.


So what about you? How do you visualise? What applications have you used? As always, comments welcome.


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Creating Images for Blogs

One of the strengths of writing on the web is the possibility of presenting ideas and information in different forms. The most common form is visual images. For some this simply means going to Google and copying the first image found. However, these images are often copyrighted or have little connection with the original creator. One solution is to make your own. There are many different websites which make this possible …


recite-bass

Made with Recite This

RECITE This

This site allows you to quickly paste in some text and then choose from twenty different templates, ranging from a mobile phone to a notebook to a framed picture.


Pinstamatic Bass

Made with Pinstamatic

Pinstamatic

Created to support Pinterest, this site allows you to create an image for a range of things, such as a quote, a website or an event.


Quozio Bass

Made with Quozio

Quozio

Like Recite This, Quozio allows you to create quotes from a range of templates depending on the length. You can also get a bookmarklet which allows you to create images from text straight from the web.


Pinword Bass

Made with Pinwords

Pinwords

This site allows you to add your own image or choose from some that are provided, as well as pick from a range of templates in the creation of a visual.


Quote Pixel Bass

QuotePixel

Like many of the others, this site allows you to paste in text to create an image. Where this site differs is the ability to categorise quotes, making them more easily searchable.


Quotes Cover Bass

Made with Quotes Cover

Quotes Cover

This site provides a wider range of options than most based on colour, images and fonts. It also provides several output dimensions, including wallpapers, e-card and social media headers.


Pizap Bass

Made with Pizap

Pizap

Moving away from the quote based applications, this site allows you to create and edit images, adding filters and borders. One of the popular features is the ability to easily make memes, although Meme Generator is just as effective.


 

Pic Monkey Bass

Made with Pic Monkey

Pic Monkey

Similar to Pizap, this site allows you to create and edit images using a range of features, such as effects, textures and overlays. A very stylish application that is easy to use, the only limitation is that some features are premium only.


 

poster_from_postermywall Bass

Made with Poster My Wall

Poster My Wall

Building upon the complexity of Pizap and Pic Monkey, this site allows you to choose from a wide range of templates or simply create from scratch. It offers many variables and allows you to download the finished product for free with a watermark.


 

Drawings Bass

Made with Google Drawings

Google Drawings

This application allows you to create and compile your own images. In addition to matching different fonts, Drawings can be good for incorporating shapes in the development of diagrams.


Paper53 Bass

Made with Paper Fifty Three by Amy Burvall

Paper53

This iPad application allows you to make digital sketches. For more ideas on sketchnoting, see Sylvia Duckworth’s presentation. In addition to the digital, you can just draw something on paper and capture it.


Created with Canva

Created with Canva

Canva

A web application that can be used across platforms, Canva allows you to create a range of images either from scratch, by using predefined templates or remixing someone else’s work. It requires users to create an account which restricts it to 13+. There are also options for purchasing premium content, including templates and images.


Adobe Post

Made with Adobe Post

Adobe Post

In a recent addition to their suite of iOS apps, such as Voice ans Slate, Post allows you to quickly and easily make images. Where it stands out is the ability to adjust content and styles with the wizard tool. Please note, it does add a small hashtag to each make.


Picasa

A downloadable application which allows you to organise and edit your photos. Beyond the usual filters and edits, Picasa allows you create collages for your images.


Something to be mindful of is that although most of the sites and applications do not require logins, they do however keep a copy of your creations. So if you are adding your own backgrounds you need to consider this. While if you are going to use images found online then at least adjust the advanced settings in Google to search up content that has been marked Creative Commons or use sites like Photos For Class to find appropriate content.

So what about you? What images do you add to extend your writing? As always, I would love to know.


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An Introduction to Thinglink EDU

Digital Creating and Making at #DigiCon15 http://bit.ly/quickmakes

Digital Creating and Making at #DigiCon15 http://bit.ly/quickmakes

Thinglink EDU is a platform for making interactive images. Whether it be video, audio or text, it allows you to provide links to additional information. Creating an interactive image involves three simple steps: find an image to use as the background, add links using a range of icons and then share the finished product, whether it be as a link or by embedding it in a blog or a website.

Like many programs with educational support, there are two subscription options. Firstly, a free account, which provides you the basics, including 100 student accounts, simple tagging and a small range of icons. While the premium educational version allows for almost unlimited student accounts, Google Drive integration and over a hundred different icons, including the option to use custom icons.

One of the other great features of Thinglink EDU is the ability to remix. No matter which interactive image it is that you find, you can make it your own, adding your own elements and republishing a new version.

Some of the possible uses for Thinglink EDU include:

  • Making an image with a series of questions for students to then remix and answer.
  • Developing a map with links to mark a journey.
  • Annotating a piece of work, using icons to highlight different features.
  • Creating an interactive portfolio with links to different references.
  • Finding an image that allows you to tell a story.

In regards to data and policy, Thinglink EDU requires only an email address, first and last name from teacher users. For the Premium account, payment details are also collected. Data is stored and processed on computers located in USA or EU.

Thinglink collect information for the purposes of providing and developing the service. Some of the features offered might rely on the use of information we have collected from you in order to ensure that the feature in question is customised and targeted for your specific use. The personal data provided can also be used for direct marketing unless you let Thinglink know that you do not wish to receive such content. The personal data can also be used for contacting you if required for the provision of the service.

For full privacy information in regards to data and policy, see: https://www.thinglink.com/terms


More resources:

Thinglink Blog – A collection of thoughts and resources associated with using Thinglink

Thinglink Teacher Challenge – A series of challenges and ideas about how to use Thinglink EDU.

Susan Oxnevad’s ISTE Resources – A great collection of images showing some of the many potentials.

Extending the Classroom Walls – A post reflecting on some of the different possibilities.

Thinglink and Storytelling – My own example of how Thinglink can be used to tell a deeper story.

Verified Accounts for Schools and Districts – A post explaining some of the different account options.

Examples of Thinglink


For any more information, I recommend contacting Susan Oxnevad (susan@thinglink.com). While there is also currently a 20% discount off EDU Premium if you use the code: SUSANTLEDU


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Creative Commons Starts with Making – A Reflection on Creating and Sharing


flickr photo shared by mrkrndvs under a Creative Commons ( BY-SA ) license

I was reminded again this week about the importance of Creative Commons. Firstly, my students got a bit stuck getting their heads around what was right for use while creating presentations, while secondly, Mark Anderson wrote a post sharing why he worries about teachers blogging. Beyond the initial frustration about the lack of foresight in regards to the wider audience and subsequent poor judgement, Anderson discusses his concern over the use and reference to content. From copying someone else’s image to sharing student images, he provides three suggestions:

  • Use CC Search if you are trying to find appropriate content
  • Reference ideas and content when you are borrowing
  • Always err on the side of caution when sharing student content online

Although each idea is helpful, what is seemingly left out is any discussion of how teachers can go what David Price has described as ‘SOFT‘ by openly giving back and putting back into the community?

I have written about creative commons and where to find content before. However, I have never really unpacked my steps in regards to how I create and share. Basically, unless an image has a Creative Commons license giving permission, permission isn’t given. The challenge then in not only sharing is doing so in a way that others can benefit from. Although I share different content online, here is a summary of my workflow in regards to creating visual quote from the discovery of the idea to publishing it online.

Ideas

The first step in creating a visual quote is coming upon a quote. More often than not, quotes create themselves and often come from the plethora of blogs I read via Feedly. I also use the annotation tool in Diigo to keep ideas for a later date. In addition to this, I have started reading more books via Kindle as it provides an easy way to keep notes. Tom Barrett describes this act of curation as ‘mining knowledge’, the purpose of which is to create a collection to dig through at a later time. There are many different social bookmarking tools, such as Delicious and Evernote web clipper, the challenge though is finding the right tool and method for you.

Content

In addition to finding a quote, the challenge is to match this with an image. For those like Jackie Gerstein, Dan Haesler, Sylvia Duckworth and Amy Burvall, the answer is to draw from scratch. Although I have experimented a bit with sketchnoting and doodling, I prefer to connect with pre-existing visual images. This search often begins with Flickr. I like the fact that you can trawl images based on licenses. Sometimes I favourite images which I come back to, but more often than not I simply search from scratch. This can be challenging as I often have an idea what sort of image I am after. Lately, I have also started incorporating Lego within my makes to add another layer of meaning. After working with my younger brother, I saw the potential to use Lego to portray anything. I also feel that it is one of those things that, although usually designed for children, is somewhat ageless.

Creating

There are so many different applications on the web that make the creation of images quick and easy. However, I still prefer to make from scratch. Although I sometimes use applications like Quozio, Phoster and Canva, I prefer to use Google Draw. Bill Ferriter once explained to me how he uses PowerPoint to create some of his images. After tinkering myself with this idea, I turned to Google Draw, both for its ease of use, but also the ability to share and remix.In regards to themes, I try and stick to set group of fonts:

  • Architects Daughter for thin main body text
  • Paytone One for thick key words or phrases
  • Permanent Marker for the author and title

While inspired by Amy Burvall, I have also taken to using a mixture of bold colours taken from my avatar image, as well as white for the main text. To make sure that the text stands out from the image, I often make the base image behind the image black and then move the transparency slider attached to the image to 50%.  This helps the text to stand out.

Sharing

There are so many different methods and modes to share these days. The issue though is that unless you explicitly state it, copyright is still held by the creator. Although people may consume such content, they cannot use it in a presentation or modify it. The problem is that, as Doug Belshaw asserts, “remixing, re-appropriation and riffing off other people’s work just seems to be part of what we do as human beings.” With this being the case, it is important to provide some sort of licensing to help people to share openly and freely. The most obvious method seems to be via Flickr.

When you upload to Flickr, it provides the means to easily select a license. If this seems to laborious, you can actually set a default license in settings. Another benefit of Flickr is that when I use images in blog posts I can easily attribute using Alan Levine’s Flickr Attribution Helper. An alternative to Flickr though is attributing within the image.

Like artists of old, many people have taken to signing their images as a way of resolving the attribution issue. Taking this a step further, there are those like Gerstein who not only sign their work, but also place a license created via the Creative Commons website within the image to make it as clear as possible. Doing this allows you to avoid having to share through third party sites.


So there you have it, my workflow in creating and publishing visual quotes. What about you? What content do you create? How do you share it? What steps do you take to make sure others can make use of it? As always, comments welcome.


Update

At a recent GAFESummit, I did a Demo Slam where I shared making a quote. In it I demonstrated how I have moved away from using Google Drawings and instead building with Google Slides. One of the reasons for this is that I am able to edit the master slides meaning that I do not have to adjust the fonts and colours each time. I am also able to add a small mark to the bottom of the image as something of an identifier, something someone else actually asked me to do. Beyond this, the process of adding an image, making it transparent on top of a black background and predominantly using white text remains the same.


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