Jumat, 15 Januari 2016

9 Generic activities for exploiting infographics

9 Generic activities for exploiting infographics .Infographics are a great source of information and make reading information from the computer screen much easier, but just showing students an infographic and telling them to study it isn’t the most effective way to exploit the medium.

Creating your own infographic tasks can be time consuming though, so in this posting I’m presenting a number of generic ideas that should work with a number of types of infographic. You can use these ideas with students to help focus their comprehension of the information and give them clear goals for engaging with the information in the graphics.

I’ve used  a selection of these tasks for the infographic based collection of lesson plans I’ve published on the TES resources site. The series title is - Lessons in Digital Literacy and I’ve used these lesson plans to help students develop critical thinking skills and their ability to carry out online research.

Peer created questions
Give your students an infographic and get them to create a quiz based around it. Once the students have created their quiz they can use it to check the comprehension or knowledge of other students in their class. You can make this competitive and have teams to quiz each other. You could also have different infographics for each group and they can exchange questions and infographics.
  • This activity has a duel role in that students need to read through the infographic and understand it in order to create the questions, but they also practise formulating questions. The activity also adds an element of competition which some students find motivating and of course it saves you a lot of time creating questions yourself.
Fact finding
Ask your students to find x-number of what they believe are the most important or significant facts in the infographic. Get them to justify their choice and explain why these points are the most significant.
  • This activity encourages students to evaluate and make value judgements about the information they are being exposed to. It also reveals elements of their own value system and exposes them for discussion which can be very enlightening.

Checking sources / corroborating information
Get students to check the sources of any statistics mentioned in an infographic to make sure they are correct and that the sources are valid. You could also get them to find supporting sources on other sites that either authenticate or contradict the statistics stated in the infographic.
  • There’s a common joke that 83% of all statistics are made up. Often students tend to believe any information that they find online. This activity encourages students to be more critical and to check the validity of information they find. It also helps them to develop the necessary research skills to validate online information.
Comparing to yourself
You can get students to find out where they fit within any infographics that contain personal information. You can also use this as a mingle task by asking students to try to find someone in the classroom who fits into any of the same statistics that they do.
  • This encourages the students to apply the information to themselves and by personalising it can make it seem more real, memorable and tangible. This can make data a little less dehumanising. The mingle activity can also help to improve classroom dynamics and help students to get to know each other.
Checking bias and motivation
Ask the students to find out who created the infographic and why they think it was created. This involves them researching the source and thinking about the relationship between the company that created the graphic and the information in it.
  • This encourages students to think more deeply about information and to question the goals and motivation behind it. Students often think of information as neutral, but the way information is displayed and what information is chosen can influence readers. Pushing students to look more deeply at the motivations behind the information can make them more critical readers.
Personal response
You can ask students for a range of personal responses to any infographic. Here are some possible example questions.
What did you find interesting?
What information do you doubt?
What information would you like to share? Who with? Why?
  • This encourages students to think about applying information and making it purposeful for their own lives. Encouraging a personal response from students can also make the lessons more meaningful and memorable for them.
Summary / Writing
Ask your students to take notes about the most important information in the infographic and then use the notes to write a summary. The summary could have some form of publication as a motivation, such as a newspaper report website publication. Once they have finished a first draft they can exchange with another student and compare to see if they chose the same main points. You could also ask them to peer edit the text and then return it before writing a final draft.
  • This can help to develop students process writing skills and academic study skills. It encourages students to evaluate information and make and articulate the connections between different nuggets of information.
Presentation summary
You can ask your students to prepare an oral presentation based on the information they took from the infographic. They can also prepare a presentation deck with images and text to help support their presentation.
  • This can help to develop students speaking and presentation skills. The ability to present and talk about information is also a valuable workplace skill.
Create your own research
Get students to create their own research questionnaire based around the same topic. They can use this either in class or share it through social media and collect the information for their own infographic.
  • This develops students research skills and encourages them to think about the framing of questions to extract information. It also encourages them to think about how they present data once it has been collected.
I hope you find these tasks useful.

Related links:
  • My infographic lesson plans on TES
  • Creating illustrations and infographics for ELT tasks
  • Exploiting Infographics for ELT
  • Digital Video - A manual for language teachers
  • Managing the digital classroom - Using a backchannel
  • Managing the digital classroom - Getting students' attention
  • 20 + Things you can do with QR codes in your school
  • Brainstorming and polling with AnswerGarden

9 Generic activities for exploiting infographics

Jumat, 06 November 2015

Creating online learning with Riddle

Creating online learning with Riddle. On the surface Riddle is a great free tool for creating a variety of quizzes and polls that can have rich media embedded into them, but when you look below the surface it's actually a pretty sophisticated tool for quickly authoring engaging elearning.

Creating a Riddle is easy
Go to: and sign up. Then you will see the different quiz types. The main types of interactions you can create are:

  • Opinion polls - These are simple single question polls which can contain a number of fixed response for the recipient to choose from.
  • Lists - Lists aren’t questions as such, they are more like a nice way of presenting information in a series of chunks. Each chunk of information can also have media or text embedded into it. This would make a great way of presenting infographic type information in a more mobile friendly way.
  • Pop quiz - A pop quiz can contain a number of multiple choice questions. Pop quizzes can be scored across percentage of correct answers. Students can also get feedback on each answer within the quiz and you can attach specific messages to scores to tell students what they need to do in response to their score.
  • Personality tests - With this kind of test you can create a number of questions for participants to answer and link the answers to specific personality types. So for example if the participant answer a to all questions they are shown their a personality type. You can actually create the different personality types yourself.
  • Surveys - Surveys are the most flexible poll type. You can have a choice of different question types from text fields for written input to single choice or multiple select questions.
You can either click on ‘New’ to start from a blank template or click on ‘Template' and you’ll see an example of that type of quiz which should give you an idea of how to create one yourself.
Most quiz types start with some kind of introduction screen where you outline the theme and purpose of the quiz. With Riddle it’s easy to add media to this part of the quiz just by clicking on the media type and searching for it or uploading your own file.
Then add the questions and potential answers. You can also add a score the answer in the pop quiz type questions and some explanatory feedback.
Once you have added the questions you can customise the look of the quiz by changing colours or fonts.
Then once the quiz is complete you can share either a URL or embed code or post it directly to your social network accounts.

The responses to all the questions are collected within the platform and you can view and download these by clicking on ‘Statistics’ (to download a csv file you need a pro account) so this provides a form of LMS though it doesn’t enable you to identify specific students (again you would need a pro version to do that).

How to use Riddle with learners
  • Riddle is pretty simple and quick to learn so you can get students to create their own research questionnaires. These could be for classroom research or they could share them through social media networks. You could use infographics to base the research on and get students to do parallel research and create their own infographic.
  • You could get students using the List option as tasks to report on films or reading assignments. They could create a ten point list to include the ten most important features of the book or film.
  • You can create opinion polls to lead into classroom discussion. This would give students the opportunity to think about the issues before they come into class. You could then follow this up with a second poll to see how many people had changed their mind about the issue.
  • You could use the list option to have mock elections. Students could use the list to create a ten point election manifesto. The students could then look through them and decide who they would like to vote for.
  • You can use lists to present different aspects of verb tenses with a section each on meaning, form, pronunciation, time lines and usage. You could also include links to videos or songs where the verb tense is being used.
  • You can use personality tests to identify learning styles and make students more aware of them. You just need to define the different learning styles and then add answers to the multiple choice questions that identify each style.
  • You can create a pre test to get students thinking around topic you want to teach and to find out what they already know about it.
  • You can use Riddle as part of flipped learning approach with video embedded into quizzes or polls. Then you can collect students’ answers and go into class with a clear understanding of what they have understood from the material.
  • You can embed articles, short stories or video clips in the pop quiz or surveys and then build them into  complete online course.
What I like about Riddle
  • The free option still gives lots of scope for creativity.
  • There is a great range of quiz types.
  • The simplicity of creating the quizzes makes this easy for students to learn quickly
  • I love the choice of media and how easy it is to embed media into the quizzes.
  • I like the way the personality type quiz answers can be set up with sliders to refine the way the answers apply to the different personality types.
  • The list type quizzes are a great way to segment the presentation of new materials
I hope you enjoy using Riddle and create some useful interactive learning materials.

Related links:
  • Digital Video - A manual for language teachers
  • Managing the digital classroom - Using a backchannel
  • Managing the digital classroom - Getting students' attention
  • 20 + Things you can do with QR codes in your school
  • Brainstorming and polling with AnswerGarden
  • Creating illustrations and infographics for ELT tasks


Creating online learning with Riddle

    Jumat, 30 Oktober 2015

    Creating illustrations and infographics for ELT tasks

      Creating illustrations and infographics for ELT tasks is one of my favourite tools and the one I use most for creating graphics and infographics. As someone who doesn’t draw very well and has only limited design abilities it has really helped me out a number of times and enabled me to produce professional looking illustrations, product mockups and teaching materials.

    How it works
    When you go to the site you can either open an existing diagram or create a new one.

    Click on Create New Diagram and you will have the option to either choose from a number of templates that you can edit or use a blank template.

    Once you open a blank template you see the canvas in the centre and on the left of the screen there are a number of shapes and a search engine. If you scroll down the categories on the left and click on them you’ll see a vast range of shapes images and icons any of which you can use by simply dragging them onto the canvas.

    The canvas appears to be A4, but to can drop images and shapes anywhere around it and it will expand in any direction to accommodate your graphic.

    If you want something specific you can type a key word into the search engine and you’ll see images related to the word.
    All shapes and images can be resized, dragged around and have text and colour added once they are on the canvas.

    Going to the insert menu also enables you to add images from URLs or search Google for images to add to your graphic.
    Once you have finished creating your graphic you can export it as an image or save it in a number of different format types including PDF, PNG, SVG and HTML. You can also save an XML file of the graphic and then open it at a later date or share it with someone else to edit it. This is a really useful if you spot an error or typo at a later date.
    The files can be saved on the device you are working on or on Google Drive or DropBox, so they are easy to share with other people.

    How to use it

    Create time lines
    Time lines are great for helping students to understand the concepts and time relationships in various statements. You can use the timeline to map out the events in the sentence and illustrate the order in which they happened. can help you to quickly produce visually appealing timelines with images to help illustrate the sentences.

    Creating flashcards can be time consuming, especially if you can’t draw. You can very quickly create your own flashcards using the images from and add text or phonemic script (You can copy paste the phonemic text from: ) or you can find and add the images on Google Images.

    Create infographics
    Infographics are a great way to convey dense statistical information in an accessible way for the computer screen. is a great way to create your own infographics for students or you can get students to create the infographics themselves. makes it easy to add images and colour to the graphics.

    Process maps is great for creating process maps students can create these to demonstrate their understanding of the processes described in a text or you could create them to show students different process, such as visually explaining a the writing process.

    Mindmaps are a great way to support memory and show connections between different topics. They are also great for helping students to remember and review vocabulary. makes these very easy to create and you can also add images to illustrate them. If you save the xml file created by you can also share it so that others can edit it and create their own version.

    Grammar summaries
    You can use to create illustrated grammar summaries or get students to create them. You can have a section for meaning, form, pronunciation and appropriacy and use icons or illustrations to help clarify and make the summaries more attractive and memorable.

    Conversation/ dialogue maps
    Many transactional conversations follow very similar patterns. You can use to create dialogue maps to illustrate this for students or get them to map out a conversation themselves. They can use the dialogue map to show the purpose of each part of the conversation.

    Visual story summaries
    You or your students can use to create visual summaries of stories. These can show the characters and the main events in the plot. For longer stories, students can build the visual as they read each section or paragraph. This is a great way to get students to demonstrate their understanding of the text.

    Lifeline maps
    Students can create lifeline maps of themselves showing the main events in their lives. These can be really useful as prompts for speaking activities and to help students get to know each other better. They can also create lifelines for famous people or historical figures or events.

    Illustrations for materials
    If you create your own texts or worksheets you can use to add illustrations graphs and images to them to make them look a bit more attractive and professional.

    What I like about it
    • It’s free and runs in the web-browser so no need to download anything.
    • Great selection of images and icons to add to illustrations
    • Great to be able to save to Google Drive and share with others
    • Great range of formats for download
    • Love the unlimited canvas space
    • Doesn’t require any login or registration
    • Quick to learn so usable with students
    • Great that photographic images can be imported in too

    As a tool for creating graphics, infographics and illustrations there isn’t much that can be improved. I guess some people might prefer a freehand creation tool but I’ve personally never had much success with these. For me is great the way it is. I hope you and your students find it useful too.

    Related links
    • My infographic lesson plans on TES
    • Exploiting Infographics for ELT
    • Digital Video - A manual for language teachers
    • Managing the digital classroom - Using a backchannel
    • Managing the digital classroom - Getting students' attention
    • 20 + Things you can do with QR codes in your school
    • Brainstorming and polling with AnswerGarden

    Creating illustrations and infographics for ELT tasks

    Jumat, 23 Oktober 2015

    Brainstorming and polling with AnswerGarden

    Brainstorming and polling with AnswerGarden
      AnswerGarden is a very simple tool for creating short answer polls and displaying the answers as word clouds. It’s really simple and quick to use and can be used in the classroom or embedded into webpages, blogs or in online courses.

    To create an AnswerGarden poll just go to and click on the + sign at the top. Then you can either type in a topic to brainstorm or a question.

    AnswerGarden poll responses are limited to either 20 or 40 characters so be sure that the type of question you use doesn’t require a long complex answer. AnswerGarden works best when only a single word answer is required.

    Once you have added your topic or question you can just click enter and your poll will be ready. Then just share the URL with the recipients.

    You can refine your poll and add some security to it if you wish.
    • There are a number of modes you can choose for your poll.
    • You can allow different users to repeat the same answer, in which case the repeated word will appear larger depending on the number of people who enter the word, or you can allow each word to be entered only one time.
    • You can set the poll to be moderated so that words only appear once you approve them.
    • You can add a password for the poll and add your email address to get an admin link for the poll.
    • You can lock the poll so that nobody can add to it, but this would usually be done once the poll is complete.

    Once the poll has been launched there are a number of other nice features including an automatically generated QR code to make the poll easy to access for students on mobile phones.

     You can also share the poll quite easily through a range of social media or get an embed code to add it to a webpage or blog. You can even geo broadcast the poll through your local network so that anyone can discover it on their mobile phone or laptop.

    Once your students have completed the poll there are a number of export options including export to Wordle, Tagxedo which allow you to customise the word cloud and save or edit the results. You can also send it to Twitter or save it as a PNG.

    AnswerGarden in the classroom
    • You can set a topic and get students to brainstorm vocabulary connected with that topic. Once all the words have been added you can ask students to peer teach any they don’t know in pairs or small groups or research the words in an online dictionary.
    • As a warmer you could get students to enter all the verbs, nouns or adjectives they know that start with a particular letter. You could even create two or three AnswerGardens with the same task and give them to different groups and see which group produces the most examples.
    • You could do a variation of the above game by getting students to brainstorm nouns that have specific qualities. For example, students could add anything they can think of that has feet, or anything that can fly, or anything that is green.
    • You could start with a route word and ask your students to enter or collect words that collocate with it. This doesn’t have to be done in one lesson but students could use a number of these AnswerGardens to collect collocations. They could do a similar thing with phrasal verbs using either a verb or a preposition in the question.
    • You could use AnswerGarden to get your students to create anagrams from a route word. Again you could have a different poll for each grup and make this competitive.
    • You could use an AnswerGarden to find out more about your students by getting them to enter things or people that they like or don’t like, such as favourite sports or actors.
    • You could find out how students feel about something by getting them to enter adjectives to express their feelings about anything from politics to action research on specific classroom techniques you use. Or they could just enter adjectives to describe how they are feeling. This is a good way to take the temperature of the room.
    • You could use AnswerGarden to get students to decide between two or three options. They just type in the one they want and the most popular one will appear as the biggest word.
    Because AnswerGarden is so simple and quick to use and doesn’t require registration it would be great to get students using it to create their own small research questionnaires. They could then share these within the class or through their social media networks and then present the responses in class.

    I hope you enjoy using AnswerGarden with your students. Please post any additional ideas or links to examples you have created in the comments.

    Related links:
    • Digital Video - A manual for language teachers
    • Managing the digital classroom - Using a backchannel
    • Managing the digital classroom - Getting students' attention
    • 20 + Things you can do with QR codes in your school
    • Crowdsourcing Knowledge with Students

    Brainstorming and polling with AnswerGarden

    Jumat, 02 Oktober 2015

    10 reasons why you should buy my book

    10 reasons why you should buy my book. Over the last year I have been working on the first in what I hope will be a series of books to help teachers exploit new technologies in ways that will enhance their students learning. My first book - Digital Video - A manual for language teachers - was released in August 2015 and here just a few of the reasons why I think it's worth the price of a cup of coffee.

    1. It’s a ground breaking ebook that combines text and images with 26 embedded video tutorials.

    Here's an example:

    2. It combines instruction on how to use the best in new technologies with creative practical classroom activities.

    3.It gives an overview of how new technologies can be combined with existing methodological approaches such as TBL, CLIL and Flipped Learning to make students’ learning more engaging and effective.

    4. It shows you how to build your own technical and pedagogical skills to enable them to create their own materials and activities for students.

    5. It helps you to see beyond the concept of using video for comprehension and consumption and looks at ways you can exploit the amazing power of handheld devices to encourage students to use video creatively to develop their skills.

    6. It includes annotated links to some of the best free video based apps and resources that are available online.

    7. It shows you how to build the technical skills and confidence you need to gradually start introducing new technologies to your classroom.

    8. It helps you to see how you can make the transition from classroom teaching to blended and online teaching.

    9. It’s the cheapest good quality 400 page full colour multimedia ebook for teachers that you can buy online. (Price at present is below £1 / $1.99 so around the price of a cup of coffee)

    10. The money raised from creating the sales of the book will help to ensure that I’m able to produce similar books like this at a comparable price.

    You can buy the book from:
    I really hope you enjoy the book and please do leave a review.

    Related links:
    • Lesson plans and activities for exploiting video
    • Web 2.0 Tools for Teachers 
    • Using Scribd to monetise your writing work

     10 reasons why you should buy my book

    Jumat, 25 September 2015

    19 + Things you can do with QR codes in your school

    QR codes are possibly one of the most underused useful features of new technology. Perhaps one of the main reasons for this is that many people see them as a form of barcode and wrongly believe that they can only be produced by companies, but the reality is anyone can produce a QR code within seconds.
    19 + Things you can do with QR codes in your school
    QR literally stands for 'quick response' and it enables you to transfer various types of digital content onto a mobile device in seconds without having to type any URLs.

    There are two essential things you need to make QR codes work for you.

    1. A means of creating the code.
    There are a number of quick free services that enable you to create QR codes in seconds. These are two that I like:
     Here’s how to create the code:

    2. A means of reading the code
    In order to read the codes students will need an internet connected device with a QR scanner installed. There are a number of these also available for free.
    QR codes can have a transformative effect, not only within a the classroom but also within a school. They have multiple uses which we will go on to look at, but among the greatest strengths they have is that they are platform agnostic, so they can be used on any mobile device with a camera regardless of brand as long as it has QR code scanning app available for it, so they can form a fundamental tool to enabling an effective BYOD program in any school.

    Here are a few suggestions

    In the classroom
    • Add QR codes to worksheets and classroom handouts so that students who prefer a digital version can download one directly to their device.
    • At the end of classes create a QR code for digital notes from the class with new vocabulary, errors or interesting expressions that came up during class etc.
    • Create a QR code link to an interactive phonemic chart so that student can use it to work on their pronunciation and use their phone to record themselves.
    • Create QR codes so that students can download grammar reference notes or vocabulary records at the end of a lesson.
    • Get students to scan their timetable directly into the calendar on their phone using a QR code.
    • Make a list of QR codes which link to suitable apps you want students to download to use in class. This will help them to save time searching for them.
    • You can get students to scan images and infographics directly onto their device.

    • Everything you print and put on a wall or put on paper and handout can be distributed using a QR code.

    Around the school
    • Have a QR code at the entrance to the school which links to a welcome video from or info video about the school, so that when people arrive at the school they feel some form of human contact, even if the school is closed.
    • Add QR codes to pictures of staff members and link these to short video clips of the teachers introducing themselves.
    • When you take photographs of events at your school and put them on display, add QR codes so that students can download the ones they want directly from the display.
    • Add QR codes to any competitions you are doing around the school. These can link directly to email addresses or SMS text numbers that students should submit their entries to.
    • Set up QR codes for events and schedules so that they are scanned directly into students digital calendars.
    • Make newsletters available digitally with QR codes. Teachers or students can just scan the code if they want a copy.
    • Set up QR codes with various study and learner training tips around the school so that students can get a tip and some inspiration where ever they are in the school.
    • Add QR codes to instruction sheets so that teachers or students don’t have to make a photocopy, they can just scan them onto their phone.
    • Add QR codes to teachers resources so that they can quickly scan and download a copy to their phone or mobile device rather than photocopying.
    • Set up a treasure hunt with information and clues delivered to students phones as they search for QR codes which tell them where to find the next QR code clue.
    • You can quickly get students onto your school Facebook page to like it.

    • Everything you print and put on a wall or put on paper and handout can be distributed using a QR code.

    In the self access centre
    • Create QR codes for self-access worksheets and online activities that students can then scan and complete on their own device rather than paper. You can link to webpages, videos, listening activities etc.
    • Make digital books and magazines in the library available to students through QR codes. There are  vast number of magazines that can be downloaded for free from sites like,, or students can download classics from or from Google books.
    • Create QR codes for recommended videos from YouTube or other video sharing sites. You could also have a QR code for a worksheet with activities for the students to do while they watch it.
    • Create QR codes for recommended audio books or podcasts for students to listen to.

    In your marketing
    • Add QR codes to any brochures and promotional materials round your school. Then students can download a PDF version to their device and you can save money on printing. You can also update your materials without having to re-print them or change the QR code.
    • Create a QR code with a link to a Google map showing the location of the school and add this to marketing materials to help people find the school.
    • Add a QR code to materials that enable potential customers to easily send you a text message for more information.

    Benefits of using QR codes
    Getting staff and students familiar and comfortable with QR codes can take some time and training, but if you can integrate these into your school the potential benefits are huge.

    Here are a few:
    • Reduced costs of photocopying.
    • Reduced costs of printing marketing materials.
    • Reduced costs of storage and shelf space in library or self access centre.
    • Reduced cost of lost books, CDs, video, magazines etc.
    • Reduced costs of buying magazines, newspapers etc.
    • Increased engagement with learning materials.
    • Increased engagement with marketing materials.
    • Increased learning opportunities within the school environment.
    • A 21st century mobile friendly learning environment.
    • A more digitally literate staff and student body.
    I hope you find these ideas useful and please do post any comments or suggestions you have for using QR codes.

    Thank you ...