Oct 06

What are infographics?

How are you today? I’m just about catching my breath from the school holidays. My work doesn’t stop for holidays – its the two weeks that I madly work on my Doctorate, and this time did some lecturing and workshops at Melbourne Uni too. I love it but, boy, I’d love an actual school holiday! Anyway…enough moaning!

I want to show you these cool things called Infographics today.

I love them cos they let our kids look at complicated data and ideas through pictures. If you want to help your kids go deep with some info or make sense of something for their school project – try infographics.

There are Infographics on nearly every subject you can imagine. To find one  go to Google Images and search for “(your topic) AND infographic”.

So, like this, with the same punctuation –

 “infographics AND insects”

                   or

       “infographics AND fruit”

Here’s an infographic about one of my fave topics – coffee :0)

what are infographics?So that’s what we are talking about :0) Easy to read, right?

This coffee info could be shown in an eXcel spreadsheet – but would you really read that as closely? I wouldn’t :0) Give me easy, quick representations – so I can take the data and just move on!

Infographics are where graphing goes wild! The amount of information, comprehension and general head-tilting (you’ll see what I mean!) required to interpret these complex images is impressive! Check out the image below:

what is an infographic?

 

This ones a bit silly – but you get the idea.

So Infographics make complex information simple.

  • They use graphics and word art to get their message across.
  • They often use size to imply quantity and the theme of the graphic generally matches the topic of the data

(so. if the data is about pollution, then the data might be represented using smoking chimney stacks).

You could argue that this particular Infographic (above) could easily be recreated using a simple timeline. However, an Infographic aims to give the reader instant context for the data, in this case using all green objects and a grape-vine to represent the timeline.

 

Below is a section of another Infographic. This one attempts to convince us that we should farm insects for meat instead of animals! Yuck. Not me, thanks.

what are infographics

Check out the entire image here: http://dailyinfographic.com/wp-content/uploads/2011/05/eating-insects.jpeg

 

When you roll your mouse over the image on the website you can magnify or zoom in to aspects of the graph – making it even easier to analyse the data presented. This kind of zooming is often a feature of Infographics and it’s always worth rolling overwith the mouse or clicking the image to see if it offers this useful function.

So off you go and find an Infographic that your child can use today. Or make your own!

Try  – www.piktochart.com

Oct 03

How to use a computer and not get a sore neck!

I’m often asked about the way in which our kids sit or stand or lean or lie when using their mobile devices. It’s a good question because we seem to be using technology more and more. And mobile devices mean we can use them anywhere, which means on the bus, on the floor, at the Dr’s surgery…wherever.

I’m a Doctoral student and a blogger – so I spend a lot of time on a computer, tapping away at the keys. This stuff has become really important to me and it’s crucial to your kids too…

We don’t want our kids to become a generation of twisted, sore and bent adults. So let’s chat briefly about ergonomics.

Our kids do sit slumped on the sofa playing on the iPads and they will want to hunch over their iPod in the car. So what do we do?

I generally go by the Department of Education Guidelines (Victoria) which are a good overview. They’re focused on laptops but from the reading I’ve done, it’s a similar story to guidelines for mobiles devices.

I’ve inserted the document below, just FYI :0)

They talk about Sustained use – as being anything from 30 minutes to an hour

And they discuss Extended use – so anything over an hour.

They don’t specify time limits – which I think is smart.

If ICT is a tool for learning – and only one of many tools at their disposal – then our kids need to use them when they are necessary. So putting time limits on things is really tricky. I think it’s actually their posture as they use these tools that’s the concern here.

Of course there’s the possibility that kids can become addicted and almost obsessed with computers and mobile devices – that’s when I’d be putting limits in place. But for your average child, their educational use of technology should be balanced with what they need to learn and do…

The main points that I suggest to teachers area:

  • Regular breaks – stand up every 30 minutes. Look at a distant point, away from the screen.
  • Sit up straight – no kneeling or lying down
  • Legs straight – don’t cross your legs or sit on your feet, your back and hips should be straight
  • Try to use more than one tool – assuming you’ve got more than one! – So the iPad for a bit then the laptop. This forces your posture to change.
  • If you’re working at a desk or table: you elbows should be at right angles and you should be almost looking down slightly at your screen.

It’s not easy – I know from experience! SO have a look at these ‘guidelines’ and see what you think you can modify at your house.

Is there someone in your family or group of friends who needs to know about this? Feel free to share this post – there’s buttons below.

Do you have computer-sore-neck problems? How do you manage it?

netbook safe use guidelines Netbook Safe Usage Guide-english2

Oct 01

Cyber-Safety Tip – Q&A Websites

Hi all. I want to share with you something you really need to know about to keep your kids safe online.

By ‘safe’ I mean not being exposed to nasty stuff, like mean comments, weirdo questions or dodgy requests. It’s to do with a website that I’ve heard talk about recently and have had a few primary school kids get caught out with.

This website itself is fairly innocent but can be used in a pretty unpleasant way too. The website is called Ask.fm. I have nothing against this company or it’s product. It has set it’s rules to be for 13’s and older and states their rules for respect and they do try to stop any nasty conversations – which is more than some sites do. But a number of our younger kids are getting onto this site too, which is the worry for us.

It’s an Android and iPhone app too by the way – and it’s really worth checking if your child has it on their mobile device. Delete it if they are under 13.

Ask.fm is a website that you go to to ask a question. Any question. Really, I mean ANYTHING. So ‘who is the hottest girl in class’, ‘who would you sleep with for $100’, that kind of thing and much, much worse. It can be used as a bullying tool – really easily. Make sure you know about this website

While this site’s purpose may seem innocent enough, it’s worrying because it has no filtering. The site offers a way for people (over 13s) to interact online and ask questions of any kind.The idea behind the site is to let people ask questions – the way we might use Google. There are tons of people getting quick answers to questions like “what’s the time in London right now”, but as with anything open on the Internet, some people are using this tool in a much more unpleasant way.

You might want to see if the site is in the history of your web browser (or on their phone) just so you know what they may or may not be exposed to online.

Cyber-Safety Alert!

Do your kids know what to do if they see something unsettling online? Here’s the quick tip list:

  • Turn off the screen – not the computer, this is so you can see what they have seen and help them deal with it
  • Tell an adult – parent, teacher, aunt
  • Don’t just hide it – ask for help and know that the adult will help you, not tell you off…
  • Don’t share it with friends – they don’t need to be upset too. Of course they can chat about how you feel but sharing the content just spreads the nastiness.

While you may feel this is only applicable to older students, we know from current research that more and more younger students (as young as Prep – 5 year olds) are accessing this kind of thing online. It’s a worry but not a reason to panic. Here are a few things to think about :0)

For this particular website (Ask.fm), under-13s should NOT be allowed access. The ability within this tool for your child to be asked inappropriate personal, perhaps sexual, questions by strangers is real and should not be underestimated or dismissed.  Make sure you know who your kids are messaging online – it’s our responsibility to do so. Even if the site takes them down – your child may already have seen the comments or questions. That’s just not cool.

Do you know who is talking to your child online? I’m sure none of use would allow our children to talk privately to strangers in the street or at the super-market – are you ensuring the same safety online?

I’m not bashing this site by any means – they are meeting a need. But it’s important that our younger kids, who aren’t the target demographic here, don’t get caught up in an online conversation they don’t know how to handle.

If you’d like  more cyber-safety information and strategies, have a look at  www.cybersmart.gov.au. This is the Aussie government website and it’s a fab resource for parents :0)

 

That’s it – public service announcement over :0) !!!