I have an RSS feed that delivers me more material to read and consume on a daily basis than I can really take in. As with all things in life, I’ve developed some favorites in my feedreader and am legitimately excited to see what FlowingData, Information Is Beautiful, and Infosthetics have to share whenever their link shows new material. We teach in an era where the information comes at us a fever pitch, but with that these ‘masters of information’ are also working to make sense of it all in condensed and coherent fashion. This is how it finds its way into my teaching.

Example.

Yesterday I discovered this resource from the Guardian.

Today a student shared this resource with me from Slate.

From a design and presentation standpoint – these are two very different approaches to representing largely similar information. Possible classroom discussions can circle around the manner in which the information is presented, which is better, what each version accomplishes differently with its design choices, etc.

From a knowledge and analysis standpoint – you can have the students look for patterns, trends, geographical relevance, investigate sourcing and the like.

When the class has looked at the range of events and revolutions, one could challenge the students to investigate the American Revolution (or any other revolution for that matter) and develop a visualization that communicates a similar level of information. Students would be asked to consider the knowledge and analysis portions of their investigation while taking into account the design and presentation discussion that happened as a result of the comparison of the two data visualizations. From here they can draw connections, locate moments of similarity and difference, predict outcome (for the Middle East), create new graphics for explanation, etc. The options for meaningful curricular engagement are endless.

Explaining the recent events in a text based format would take days and days and days of reading. Using this type of information communication we can get at the big ideas. Then we can further investigate. This allows not just for knowledge acquisition, but for analysis to occur. This wealth of resources at our fingertips can allow for the classroom to get beyond just the ‘knowing’ of the information and venture out into the deeper analysis and creation of information as well. This is just too much fun.

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