Tag Archives: nerding

Friday Fun with Infographics: Whedonverse Edition

movies-joss-whedon-whedonverse-infographic_1

Now, I’ve seen some pretty intense Whedonverse infographics in my time… there’s a lot of crossover in Joss’ work, and you can make a whole bunch of connections on different levels if you’re so inclined. Seriously, people study his work at university because it’s so impressively involved and intertwined.

Anywho, I quite fancy this basic infographic which shows how Whedon likes to reuse actors across different shows and films.

There’s a couple of really great instructional design techniques that I think are worth pointing out:

  • MIND MAP LAYOUT: the mind map style of this infographic makes it really engaging to look at, but it also makes the information contained in it look really accessible to the reader. Thumbs up.
  • USE OF KEY: I’m always appreciative of a good map key. This one is super straight forward, and therefore effective. Each film/show is represented by a colour, and the colour used to outline the character picture corresponds. Really straightforward, gets the point across, and doesn’t really ‘interfere’ with the information. It’s just sitting there in a really convenient way.

I’m not so sure about the illustration of Joss used as the central image… it’s a great illustration, but I find it weird having the ‘master’ of the work portrayed in character, while all the other images used are photos. Maybe they could have just used a photo of Joss for design consistency?

Click on the image to see the infographic in full. Have a great weekend, y’all!

Infographic Source: DigitalSpy.co.nz

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Liquid Learning Blended Learning Conference 2013

So, I went along to the three day Liquid Learning conference last week, my first big L&D industry event.

It was a real eye opener. There were a number of heavy hitters speaking at the conference, and it was really pretty impressive. I thought it was great how a mixture of public and private businesses were represented, from government services like the IRD to huge private entities like Vodafone.

There were a few key learnings I took away from the three days, so bear with me while I try and explain it.

1. I ALREADY HAVE A PRETTY GOOD GRASP ON WHAT BLENDED LEARNING IS: I know I go on and on about eLearning, and I certainly love developing eLearning modules. But that hardly means the classroom is dead… and this conference helped me see there will always be a place for face to face training delivery. So PHEW. I really enjoy developing/making engaging training materials – workbooks, puzzles and games, handouts and the like – and I think I’m pretty good at it too, so I was pleased to hear that going forward there’ll still be a need for these sorts of materials. Yay for variety!

2. THERE’S NO ONE ‘FIT’ FOR TRAINING: There really isn’t. Some sessions were interesting, but I couldn’t see how the information I was taking in could be applied in my work… and from chatting with others during breaks it seemed this was a common feeling among attendees. Interesting. But we all seemed to have key points we’d be taking back to the office – just different points. This was also pleasing, because it promises future contracts with different points of views and needs. Bring it on!

3. GRADUAL RELEASE OF ‘COURSELS’: There was much talk over several sessions about how L&D peeps all seem to love creating content (usually in eLearning form), taking the time necessary to make it perfect, and releasing large-form modules at once. But what about the chance to engage learners in the time it took to develop the material? This was REALLY interesting, and I could all but see lightbulbs going off above heads all around the room.

What if you released material in draft form, throughout the development process, so learners could pick up the training piece by piece as you developed it? Once it’s completed, release it in it’s final format, but who’s to say that up to that point of ‘perfection’ the content wasn’t capable of teaching learners something?

The idea of also keeping modules bite-sized and unpacking large modules in order to provide ‘just in time’ training was also intriguing. And it makes SO MUCH SENSE. Once a module is unpacked into 5-10 minute chunks, it makes it easier for the learner to hone in on specific material that relates to the work they’re currently doing… and giving the training that contextual dimension undoubtedly helps the information stick.

I’ll definitely be working that into content I’m currently developing.

4: INTERACTIVE PDFs: I’ve been daydreaming about this for the best part of a week now. I didn’t even know PDFs could be interactive, so this was super exciting for me. Apprently this is a function of InDesign, which I definitely need to investigate. So basically you can take a smallish-document (5-6 pages at most, I’d say), and create buttons that move to different pages of the document. Hyperlink all the buttons and save it as an interactive PDF and VOILA – you’ve got yourself a mini-eLearning module that’s in document form. This would be a really versatile format that’s also really accessible. This has MUCH potential for future projects, I reckon (but don’t worry, I still love PowerPoint).

 

So there we go, just a few of the key points I took away from what was a great conference. The rest may follow in a few days time when I finish processing everything that I took in! Three days is pretty epic in learning terms, so we’ll see.

Sorry for the fortnight of silence! I’m sure you all missed me BIG TIME 😛

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The Case For PowerPoint… episode four

I’m still at it! As you can probably tell, I’ve been on a bit of an imagery bender this last couple of weeks, and now I’m about to continue along that thread with…

Part Four Custom Clipart

Did you even know that you can pull some clipart images apart and just grab the bits you like? Yeah, I just caused a brain explosion, didn’t I?

This only applies to illustrations, and not all of them – but if you find an image and you like one piece of it, it’s worth a go.

SO HOW DO I DO IT? It’s so easy it’s embarrassing. Just select your clipart picture, paste it into your powerpoint and right click it. From the Group category, select ‘ungroup’. You’ll probably get a message that looks like this:

Clipart Message

Click yes, then repeat the ungrouping – right click, group, ungroup. Your image will now look like a bunch of little bits. Click away to deselect all the parts, then start deleting the bits you don’t want. When you’re left with the remaining parts, just regroup them and you have yourself a custom clipart image!

Here’s some examples I pulled together from an eLearning module I made a few years back.

Beer and Pizza

Repairs Combo

Pretty cool, right? Here’s a few tips to bear in mind though:

  • Not all illustrations can be altered, it’s just a case of tough luck if you can’t.
  • If you want to save your custom image as a new file, I recommend saving it as an Enhanced Windows Metafile (that’s an option alongside your standard jpg, png etc…). The bonus of a metafile is that when you insert it into a PowerPoint presentation, you can still alter the parts; i.e. it’s an image file you can still ungroup.
  • Always try clipart before paying for imagery. Really! The image tagging used in clipart is great, meaning you can get great returns on a basic search, where just a part of the illustration relates to your keyword. You might want a picture of a pencil, for example. If you search for ‘pencil’ your search will return images of pencils on desks, in cups, maybe next to a book etc. And now you know how to ungroup the illustration and snatch the pencil from it’s setting!
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Friday Infographic: 14 Wild Ways People Soothe Their Sunburn

Infographic List is ‘for those who love infographics’, so it makes sense I follow them, right?

They put this beauty up the other day, and it couldn’t have come at a better time – the weather is getting warmer here, and I’ve been spending more of my weekend hours in the garden. I have the worst possible complexion for someone who lives in NZ, where we have little ozone protection from the sun. Seriously, on a summer day in NZ you get sunburnt in about five minutes. Skin cancers account for 80% of new cancers diagnosed each year, and we have one of the highest rates of melanoma in the world.

So, yeah. I have a pasty complexion with freckles to boot – not ideal for being out in the sun. I’m pretty good with my sun protection, but sometimes I’m not good enough. Would I use these methods to soothe sunburn? Not all of them, some are pretty out-there! But I DO highly recommend having a supply of aloe gel or cubes in the freezer; in my experience it takes the burn right out of the skin – even bad burns.

The idea of putting vinegar on a burn kind of scares me. Take a look at these weird and wacky solutions:

Infographic credit: via Infographic List

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My Own Personal Image Collection

I don’t consider myself very good at social media – I’m too verbose for Twitter, too informal for Facebook (I friended too many family members and now I think that anything funny I have to say will offend someone) and I don’t have the attention span for Pinterest.

I’m pretty good at Instagram though. I always enjoyed photography class at school, and getting an iPhone with a decent camera in it was pretty exciting. I’m still impressed by the quality of the photos I can take using my phone. It occurred to me a few weeks back that I’m starting to form a pretty great personal image collection too. I’ve developed the habit of trying to take a photo myself before trawling the internet for a free version too – especially for photos of surfaces, textures and the like, which are pretty easy to pull together right here at home.

Below are a few PowerPoint slides I pulled together* using some images from my phone. They’re pretty good, I think!

Eat Fresh

Parks

Prints

*I pulled these together using my imagination. I love Auckland parks but I have no idea how many people go to them compared to pre-2011, and I’m not fashionable, so don’t wear stuff because I said so. Really.

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Another Friday Infographic: Superhero Life Expectancies

Spidey Years

This Superhero Life Expectancies infographic by Design Infographics is simple and really easy to follow – it’s also pretty funny. I happen to agree with all their predictions too!

Have a great weekend everyone!

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Lost In Translation… Where There Is No Translation

Untranslatable

This post of ’11 Untranslatable Words From Other Cultures’ from Maptia Blog first appeared in my Twitter feed a few weeks back, and I just think it is wonderful. It really got me thinking about the relationship between words and their meanings – I think this piece actually celebrates the idea that feelings can transcend the most base elements of language. A feeling is more than ‘happy’ or ‘sad’, for instance. Rather, it might be Waldeinsamkeit!

You might be familiar with some common (and mostly German) words similar to these ones – zeitgeist, schadenfreude and the like – but there are many untranslatable words in many languages. Maptia did us a solid and put together 11 of the sweetest untranslatable words and illustrated them for us. If you’re looking for something to smile about today, make this it.

Image Credit: Maptia Blog

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Only Dummies Don’t Use Images

Sorry, I’ve been watching a lot of 30 Rock, so I’m doing a Liz Lemon and calling everyone a dummy at the moment.

My point is supposed to be, if you’re presenting your information as just text, or just talk, you’re missing out! Here’s why:

1. Who wants to look at screeds and screeds of words? Sorry, but I didn’t show up to read a book – and that’s the only exception to my ‘words, words, words, boring, boring, boring’ mantra that I just made up now. Let’s take a look at some slides from a corporate team-building quiz night I organised a few years back. Each slide was simple: question on one side of the slide, image on the other. The design won’t set your world alight, BUT compared to a slide that’s just text, it’s a hell of a lot more fun to look at!

Quiz Slides with pics

2. If they’re reading, they’re not listening. You know how your significant other might be talking away to you while you’re surfing the net and you’re making ‘uh huh… mmm hmm’ noises at them? Yeah, you’re not listening. You’re reading, aren’t you?

Presenting is the same – if you put lots of text on a slide, your audience won’t be listening to you, they’re reading your content instead. Great, they’re getting the message that way, but you’ve removed yourself from the occasion! You might as well have stayed at your desk and played solitaire. This is a PowerPoint 101 point to make, but I’m going to make it anyway. Keep your text brief, but I reckon that if you can make your point with an image, and talk to that, even better! Here’s a couple examples I threw together using the Shakespeare quiz slide above:

Don't do it1

Do the Bard1

3. There’s plenty of good, free images to use. There really is! They might not be quite as good as paid stock imagery, but Clipart has definitely levelled up in the last year or two. Be prepared to trawl around a bit, but you’ll find some gems, I guarantee it.

So go forth and use some images already!

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Friday Fun With Infographics! Spring Is In Bloom

Hydrangea

Flowers, Flowers, Flowers: a ‘How to Guide’ for Mom, Grandma and Wife

I was browsing the web for some info on the symbolism of flowers this week and this  infographic popped up in my search. I love the rustic, hand drawn detailing of this infographic – it’s very pretty. Happily, I found the information interesting too.

It’s no wonder I like hydrangeas – it turns out they have origins in Japan!

Have a great weekend, get outside and smell the flowers!

Image and Infographic Credit: daflores.com

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The Case For Powerpoint… Yes, it Continues

Can you believe I’ve stuck with this series for three whole entries? Craziness. Let’s not dawdle though:

Part Three Image Editing

PowerPoint is many things, but it isn’t Photoshop. It’s not the most powerful image editing software you can use, but that’s not what it’s for. It CAN do the basics though, and it can do them simply. All you need is your image, and the Picture Tools – Format tab on your ribbon.

So, what image editing features does PowerPoint offer?

Crop, Align and Rotate Images: these are definitely essentials of photo editing, especially if you’re working with multiple images. The cropping tool is pretty self-explanatory, but it’s worth noting that you have the option to crop to a shape which is really useful – crop your image into a circle, star, chord; whatever you fancy. Once you start using the align tool, you’ll never look back. You’ll also become annoyed when viewing presentations where items aren’t aligned. I particularly rate the ‘distribute horizontally/vertically’ option, which is great if you want a series of items evenly spaced on the slide.

Artistic Effects, Colours and Corrections: To be honest, I don’t use Artistic Effects or Colours very often, because the result has been pretty naff when I’ve tried it. There are times when the Corrections tool will be your friend though – if you have varying images sourced from different places, use this tool to correct tonal differences. Voila!

Remove Background/Set Transparent Colour: This is the single most exciting tool in PowerPoint for me. I use it ALL THE TIME. It’s a huge pet peeve of mine when presentations are full of images with white backgrounds sitting on a coloured slide. It’s especially annoying to me now I know that it can be fixed in two or three clicks.

The Remove Background tool does what it says on the tin, and you have control over which parts of the image stay or go if you have a particularly tricky image you’re working with. The Set Transparent Colour tool is simply marvellous (you’ll find it under the Colours menu), but only use it when you’re dealing with a vector image or a graphic with very clear lines and colours.

Here’s some examples I put together using images from Fauxgo. You really should check Fauxgo out, its a super cute collection of logos from fictional companies and brands featured in TV and film.

Grape Soda Combo

See? Not removing the background makes the slide look LAME.

SCDP combo

It only takes two clicks. Now you have no excuses.

If you want to know more about the Remove Background and Set Transparent Colours tools, you can check out this eLearning Heroes tutorial (which uses PowerPoint 2010). Enjoy!

Image Credits: Fauxgo

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