Friday, November 1, 2013

Is There A Visual Thinking App? Charts, Graphs, & The 1:1 Classroom

Source: Online-Behavior
With the advent of the iPad generation, the skills of graphicacy are taking on more importance than ever in today's classrooms. Graphicacy is the learned ability to decipher and design images, particularly around symbols, charts, and coded meanings.

Amid the national emphasis on STEM programs, charts are becoming key tools to represent visual statistics. As more and more schools migrate to 1:1 tablets, therefore, students need a foundation in reading and rendering their own optic inputs.

Source: Online-Behavior
The language of apps today is printed in icons. On handheld devices, colorful squares dance across each swiped screen. Children need to recognize these badges and identify the relationships between the logos and the corresponding actions.

With all of the nimble iPad tools, students can now efficiently create charts and graphs that represent data. In math and science classes, young learners can manipulate lines and layouts to share their findings. Historians and artists can incorporate visual blueprints for the Web 3.0 educational world.

Our own school has been implementing a 1:1 iPad program this year. We've been layering in graphs to help children understand antebellum agriculture and industrial GDP. For helpful posts about teaching with graphs, we recommend the following:
A terrific infographic that lays out traditional chart types in a kid-friendly, colorful fashion is "Nuts And Bolts Of Chart Types" from Online-Behavior. Familiar diagrams like the pie chart and line graph are explained in simple language. More sophisticated plots like the waterfall and radar charts also receive lucid billing.

The tree graph, in particular, has become wildly popular in the business world to represent customer segmentations. Recent budget graphics and current event maps have also relied on the tree graph to chunk related information.

Source: Lo's List, David McCandless, Harper Collins, The Visual Miscellaneum

New categories, however, are emerging to display contemporary data. Tropes from the digital dictionary are now readily recognizable as ways to present visual information. The concept map, matrix grid, flow chart, word cloud, and bubble graph are all now popular tools.

The terrific handout, "Types Of Information Visualization," offers these emerging illustrations in a valuable grid. Presented via Lo Martin, from her interview with graphic guru David McCandless, this table from The Visual Miscellaneum draws on Edward Tufte's work to present visual arrangements for iPad enthusiasts.

We owe a lot to our friend Lam Thuy Vo, the journalist, infographic guru, and interactive media editor at Al Jazeera America, who introduced us to the McCandless framework and who also created the superb diagnosis below of the "Anatomy Of A Chart." It is a first-rate primer for learners of any age as they begin to decode data representations.

Source: Lam Thuy Vo
For other articles on teaching with charts, please see:


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