Visualization

Visualization I broadly define to include all photographs, charts, drawings whether static or active.

Name Comments
Axon2007

What it Does: Organize and process ideas in multiple ways.
Runs on: PC only
Price: $135
Uniqueness: It's one of only a few tools to provide this combination of functions
Best Feature: The extraordinary versatility of the program
Worst Feature: The unfamiliar (but logical) and sometimes awkward interface
Learning Time: Hours --- Export/Import: Good
My use: Regular --- Confidence in Evaluation: Good
Comment: "The Axon Idea Processor provides a specially designed environment that supports and empowers the thinking processes. Objects and Links form the basic entities for idea processing. These entities are displayed in a multi-level, 3D workspace." It's true.
Visualization note: Many alternatives - easy changes.
CmapTools

What it Does: Concept relationships - Useful in group situation
Runs on: PC, Mac, Linux
Free
Uniqueness: It's one of only a few tools to provide this combination of functions
Best Feature: Public server allowing group projects.
Worst Feature: Initially difficult to see how powerful it is.
Learning Time: Hours --- Export/Import: Medium
My use: Infrequent --- Confidence in Evaluation: Good
Comment: I have used it quite successfully in several courses. It was particularly helpful in promoting class interaction.
Visualization note: It's inherently visual.
Flickr

What it Does: Web Image search and storage
Runs on: Web
Free
Best Feature: Widely used and therefor good collection of images.
Worst Feature: Interface is confusing
Learning Time: Hours --- Export/Import: Medium
My use: Regular --- Confidence in Evaluation: Good
Comment: Share photos - I take advantage of "family and friends" to limit those that aren't interesting to a wider audience.
You have to pay for extensive use, but not a lot.
Google Earth

What it Does: View and zoom the entire world
Runs on: PC, Mac, Linux - Uses Web
Free
Uniqueness: It's one of only a few tools to provide this combination of functions
Best Feature: Wow factor when exploring a geography-related aspect of a course.
Worst Feature: Interface a bit clunky when going beyond basics.
Learning Time: Minutes --- Export/Import: Medium
Confidence in Evaluation: Good
Comment: What a splendid, ever-improving tool. If you use it regularly it's worth it to spring the $20/year for the "plus" version.
Review & Comments about Google Earth in Academic Tools Blog
Google Sketchup

What it Does: 3D Drawing tool - sketching rather than detailed.
Runs on: PC, Mac
Free
Uniqueness: It's one of only a few tools to provide this combination of functions
Best Feature: Integration with Google Earth + Wow factor
Worst Feature: Focus is on buildings - orthogonal objects
Learning Time: Hours --- Export/Import: Medium
My use: Regular --- Confidence in Evaluation: Good
Comment: The integration with Google Earth is spectacular.
MS Excel

What it Does: The standard spreadsheet
Runs on: PC, Mac
Drexel Site License
Best Feature: Easy lists
Worst Feature: Time to learn its vast array of features.
Learning Time: Hours --- Export/Import: Good
My use: Daily --- Confidence in Evaluation: Good
Comment: For any heavy user it's worth adding the spreadsheet assistant mentioned elsewhere, and then learning how to record/write macros (VBA).
Visualization note: The charts are quite good.
Paint.net

What it Does: Image editing - "bitmap" = photos
Runs on: PC only
Free
Best Feature: Fine interface
Worst Feature: Requires MS "dot.net" framework
Learning Time: Hours --- Export/Import: Good
My use: Infrequent --- Confidence in Evaluation: Good
Comment: Paint.net is a quite good image editing program.
It's especially useful for adding notes to photos and diagrams.
Take advantage of its layers, and save in its native format, then "save as" "jpg" if you want to use its results
Note that you can "resize" the image to make thumbnails.
Picasa

What it Does: Image organizer, editor and slide show viewer
Runs on: PC and Linux
Free
Best Feature: Spectacularly simple interface.
Worst Feature: Will not catalog any folder named "originals" - it creates them for backups.
Learning Time: Hours --- Export/Import: Good
My use: Regular --- Confidence in Evaluation: Good
Comment: To keep track of large collections of images, edit them in a basic way and display them. It's in Google Pack.
Visualization note: Search capabilities are very strong

 

 

Update: 2006-11-26