Well, signing up for Cool Tools the same year that I’m taking 3 graduate classes was not one of my better ideas. While I’ve followed along exploring some of the tools, blogging about them has totally taken a back seat. The most demanding coursework is over, so it time to catch up here.
Exploring Infographics was a perfect complement to my graduate coursework. We had to conduct two issue analysis’ and submit our results in a paper as well as a 45 minute presentation to our classmates and then our district leadership. In both instances my job was to collect and organize local data in a way that would work for both the written assignment as well as be visually appealing during a group presentation.
For our first project we considered the issue of our district technology plan. I created a survey using google forms and collected and overwhelming amount of data. While google sheets does a decent job of creating charts from data, I wanted something more so I turned to Piktochart. I found it fairly intuitive to use and enjoyed the many options. If I struggled with anything, it was the large number of choices.
Now that the presentation is over and the paper is graded, I will admit to considering some of the tactics discussed in the article How to spot the BS. All of the data presented is real, but as I was playing with the graphics I noticed how easy it was to manipulate facts to make them say what you want them to. Using percentages instead of raw data can really make a difference!
Apparently I did such a good job with the survey in our first project I was nominated for the same task in our second project. This time I used Survey Monkey to survey our community regarding the introduction of foreign language in the elementary school. It was a simple four question survey and the graphics produced by Survey Monkey were adequate for presenting my data, but I still thought an infographic would be useful to summarize some key points in the overall issue. I wasn’t happy with what I was coming up with in piktochart, so I decided to try one of the other tools, easel.ly. Again, fairly intuitive to use. (I don’t know if I should admit this or not, but if I can’t figure out how to use something within the first 10 minutes I pretty much give up and move on.) I really liked easel.ly too.
I would say that, for me, piktochart lends itself to graphics that are rich in numbers while easel.ly is better for more text based information. Of course, I didn’t watch tutorials or read much in the way of directions, so I wouldn’t put a lot of stock in that opinion. In any case, if you’re looking for a way to present information in a visual way, either of these tools are easy and effective.