Explaining information with maps

I like maps, always have. They are fascinating and allow for a lot of information to be viewed in a graphical way. They can also offer a means for comparison.

homepage

Worldmapper is a wonderful collection of world maps that allows viewers to see various types of information in a graphic way, ie. as a map. I found a reference to this site on the blog, Using ICT in education, and had to have a play.

The site has 366 complete world maps and about 600 in total. They keep adding more. The maps and data files”cover mainly United Nations member states, plus a few others. The maps are cartograms and each maps ” territories that have are re-sized according to the variable being mapped.” Continue reading

Having fun with images: RedKid.Net

I recently found out about some classroom activities using Flickr, via one of my Diigo groups.

Flickr: Tell A Story in 5 Frames – Kids was a site that showed how one teacher was using Flickr images as an inspiration for classroom writing/storytelling. Haiku 07 – a set on Flickrwhere Flickr was again used as an inspiration (or visual clues) to writing

Today I have found another tool that allows you to do a lot of fun things with images, that could then be used for classroom activities. The site is RedKid.Net.

RedKid is dedicated to providing a free, entertaining, educational, and safe website for Internet users of all ages.

redkidnet1

There are a lot of options. You can create buttons (for your websites,etc), banners, upload images and make them into text, and so on.

redkidnet2

A message from the fortune telling 8-ball

fortune-generator

I have always liked the Flickr tools but they are banned in some schools. This is a site should be usable by all and is designed for students to play around with images and have fun, but adults will enjoy it too.

The US Presidential Election: in maps

We have all heard the quote “lies, damned lies and statistics” (from a politician no less) but what happens when they are mapped. 

election

Flickr05112008 by Rex Chen flickr.com/photos/upshine/3003544989/

The US Presidential election was covered at length on the Web, and I will not comment further but here is an interesting site that looks at the different ways you can map the US voting trends.

The site: Maps of the 2008 US presidential election results shows some quite fascinating visualizations of the different ways you can look at the voting results. The states are colored red and blue to indicate votes for the Republican candidate, John McCain, or the Democratic candidate, Barack Obama, respectively. The maps are then played with by using various scalings. The maps are fascinating and I have included 2 examples below.

http://www-personal.umich.edu/~mejn/election/2008/
http://www-personal.umich.edu/~mejn/election/2008/

There is a link to maps of the 2004 elections, and an FAQ section as well.

Searchcube

We seem to be getting new visual search engines all the time. I have had other posts about visual search engines, SearchMe and Viewzi being my favourites, but after seeing a tweet about this new one I thought I would have a look. SearchCube searches for the world wide web for information in websites, images and videos.

I entered my search terms and the results were shown as a 3D style cube and in a very visual and compact way. I searched for  Australian immigrants, volcanoes, Dali and cuneiform.

 

As always it is useful to display visually the sites that Searchcube found. Students can evaluate whether or not a site might be of use to them based on  the text and and images displayed before they go to the site. The Searchcube images were smaller than those found and shown by the other search engines above, but a larger image appears at the side when you hold the cursor over one of the images. At this time you are also given the type of result, eg website, image or video, and the web address and any brief description available.  

Once the search results appear you navigate around the cube by using the arrow keys, the shift key and the mouse. It is easy to use, without anyone really needing the simple searching guide.

This graphical format however does not load up quickly and where would I be likely to use it? It would be interesting to do an analysis of how the images were arranged or to do a comparison with the first page of results for a google search on the same topic. I cannot see in-depth research being done using this search engine, especially as there are no advanced searching options, but perhaps on a different level, looking at symbolism in art or religion. I will probably stick to Searchme and Viewzi, when showing the students some visual search engines, but it might be fun to show them this and then have some discussion about research and information and visual literacies.

For me it was fun to have a look at and it is visually striking (the WOW factor) but not for long term use. The tool also requires the use of Flash, although many browsers have this.

An image is worth 1000 words

Microblogging paints a picture

Microblogging paints a picture,
originally uploaded by shareski.

I always like to use images to help describe something, be it in a lesson or on my blog, or whatever. I was looking at a post, 25-ways-to-spice-up-your-blog-post-photos, on a site called Pro Blog Design. This discussed how to make images more striking and therefore enhance a blog. There were a number of tutorials on how to use Photoshop to make a photograph more dynamic. The tutorials are really easy to follow and worth a look.

This reminded me to go and have a look at Dean Shareski’s Flickr photo set (interesting quotes) and found that he has added to the collection. This one is “Microblogging paints a picture”. There are a number of others, some of which I have used before.