I’m a big fan of “seeing” information and the relationship between different things in a visual diagram. While we have two tools for creating “webs” and visual diagrams installed on our laptops (Kidspiration & Inspiration), there’s a new web-based tool called Text2Mindmap that will quickly take a plain, text-based outline and create something visual out of it!
Keep it Elementary For those teachers in the elementary setting, get yourself over to a Promethean board then check-out http://www.ictgames.com/. ICT Games has flash-based, interactive content for numercy and literacy development. While text is used, many have great visual appeal (if mummies, dinosaurs, and cute animals are your thing!).
I’ve no space left on my wall! Teachers have long been creative, using their walls in the classroom to hang posters, instructional charts and diagrams, not to mention motivational reminders. But what happens when you’ve run out of space? Create a virtual wall, instead! Check out Wallwisher (http://www.wallwisher.com/) a tool for hanging virtual sticky notes. You can use this with a Promethean board, or all by itself with an LCD projector. Your virtual stickies can go visual by using embedded photos or videos, too.
Gimme the Data! Understanding numbers is often a skill that baffles even teachers, when we hear statistics in the news, when someone describes a percentage increase, or when we’re trying to understand the relationship between this and that. The ManyEyes project from IBM (http://manyeyes.alphaworks.ibm.com/) is a data visualization tool that’s interactive. While browsing the data already uploaded is interesting, the real fun is involved with combining data sets together. The site puts it this way:
We all deal with data that we’d like to understand better. It may be as straightforward as a sales spreadsheet or fantasy football stats chart, or as vague as a cluttered email inbox. But a remarkable amount of it has social meaning beyond ourselves. When we share it and discuss it, we understand it in new ways.
Just let me draw! Okay, for those of you who take the term “visuals” literally, I’ll let you go draw. Sketchpad (http://mugtug.com/sketchpad/) is a new Web 2.0 tool that’s approaches some of the functionality of Adobe Photoshop. Draw with a spirograph tool, paint with transparency, and above all, get your creative juices flowing.
My thanks go out to Bea Cantor for introducing me to at least a few of these recently.