Quote of the Month

When love and skill work together, expect a miracle. John Ruskin

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Picturing Data

Whenever a fairly new web 2.0 application comes to my attention, especially those dealing with graphics, I like to give them a try.  Presenting information visually has nearly always been more appealing, engaging learners more clearly.  For students, gathering information and working with pictures is a plus.

Several educators whose blogs and tweets I follow, Heather Moorefield, Debbie Alvarez, and Kelly Tenkely have either mentioned or reviewed Piktochart withing the last two months.  At their home page Piktochart promotes: powerful editor, easy to use and professional design themes.  Across the top of the page buttons read:  home, about us, tour, themes, pricing, resources, blog, support, login and register.

One interesting addition within the tour tab is the infographic you create using Piktochart can be exported as an image.  They also have a short video quickly showing how to use the service as well as the reason for using an infographic to present information.  Without charge users have six (6) theme templates from which to choose.  Within these themes are five color schemes, limitless font customizations, the uploading of pictures and images (5 can be stored on site) and the Piktochart watermark will be displayed in the lower right hand corner of the finished product.  For $29.00 per month or $199.00 per year the themes are upgraded to 80 plus (currently there are 93), more options in customizing, 100 images uploaded and stored and the watermark can be removed.

Under the resources tab are site and user generated explanatory videos (demo), step-by-step text instructions (tutorials), and a series of highlighted infographics (user showcase).  Their blog is a series of entries offering tips and news.  If you need extra help under support there is contact information, a FAQ section and a user forum.

To register for this service you can sign in with a Facebook or Twitter account or create one using your email address with a password.  Upon clicking the sign up button you are taken to the theme selection page.  At the page, once you have clicked the Load theme button, your work area window opens.

While this window might appear daunting at first glance, I decided to follow the three steps noted in the upper left-hand corner.  I had already selected a theme (step 1).  I then clicked on Change Mood (step 2).

On the left I had five color palettes from which to choose.  By choosing the font style button you could determine your text type, (header, subheader or text), font size (6-164) and font (42 different).  The selection of fonts is a nice variety.

By selecting Edit Info (step 3) I was taken back to the original screen with the editing options on the left.
  • Upload an Image
  • Create Batch of Images (Pro)
  • Create a Chart
  • Add Shapes
  • Add Graphics
  • Add Text
  • Theme Graphics

Along the top of the work space are three tool bars. The first allows for locking selected objects from move/rotation/resize, group, show or hide background image, add or subtract a block area or alter canvas size, undo, redo, object properties and zooming in and out on the infographic.  On the second tool bar copy, cut, paste, layering, rotation and changing the color overlay are the choices.  Font style, font size, font color, bold, italics, underlined and margin justification are offered on the third tool bar.

I began to mouse over and click on the items within the template changing them to fit the information I wanted to present.  If you want to upload an image click on the icon on the left side, dragging it to the position where you wish it to be placed.  A window will then pop up allowing you to insert an image from your computer, sizing it to fit the area.

I repeatedly saved my work during the course of designing by clicking on the save button in the upper left-hand corner.  When my work was completed I clicked on download as found in the same area.  You are reminded to add .png to your image title when exporting it to your computer.

For several years studying the Iditarod, incorporating a variety of information literacy skills and using numerous book titles, has been a big unit in my library curriculum.  Here is an infographic I designed to use with this unit.  This could be used as an introduction to the unit itself or as an example of using Piktochart.

The professed features of this site are right on target.  It was more than easy to use, editing was a breeze.  The free, themed templates are more than adequate allowing for adjustment according to your information.

Even though unable to locate a terms of service, I would still make parents of students under the age of 13 aware the site was being used in a unit of study.  Importing of images would provide a good opportunity to talk about copyright.  A preferred citation maker could be introduced and used to list resources at the infographic's end.

I would recommend placing this application, Piktochart, in your educator's virtual toolbox.

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