Posted in Technology

Piktochart for creating infographics

Research Methods Piktochart

I recently tried making an infographic using Piktochart. I wanted to have a go at creating an infographic as they seem quite popular and one of my colleagues is very much into it and has recommended it. I tend to present my information quite boring and as blocks of texts and I wanted to try something more imaginative.

When I decided to create my infographic, I did not know what I was going to do – I was merely going to play around with the programme online and see how it works, but as I did it, I realise I needed some content. As I am currently teaching research methods, I thought I would do an infographic on research methods.

Lessons Learnt

There were some things I realised as I reflected on my experience and here are some lessons I learnt as I was making it.

Have a story

This may seem obvious but before you start to think about what story you would like to tell your audience. In other words, have a purpose for your infographic. When I started I got to the point of “Types of research methods” and then I did not know what to say after that as I had at the time as far as I was concerned provided all the information on research methods. I did not know how to end the infographic!

I think I have learnt that you need to figure out how you should end the infographic and that is part of the story. I decided the purpose of the infographic after that point was to help users to select a research method depending on their research purpose.

Choice of template

There is a huge range of templates you can choose from in Piktochart. When I chose the Piktochart, I chose one that did not seem too intimidating – a basic template.

When I started writing the section on “Types of Research Methods”, I had it has a long list of plain text. However, I noted that the template had pictures in a white circle and that is when I transformed that section into pictures instead. After discovering, the use of the white circle and picture, I transformed my whole infographic into using this.

I think it is crucial to realise that your template can inform your design and your thoughts of presentation. If I had not chosen this template, who knows how I would have presented this section, it might have still been a block of text and perhaps the whole infographic would be less crowded with pictures in white circles!

Less is more

I have a tendency of wanting to write. In almost every section of my created infographic, I had originally a block of text. It does not look good as a block of text. You need to really think about how you can present text as pictures. For example, my section on “Which method to use”, I had originally written words for each method. I had, for example:

Observations: used to directly observe a person with a small number of participants

Interviews: used for getting deep insights with a small number of participants

I had to carefully think about what each line represented and see how I can represent this pictorially. It was clear that for me, I was trying to make two points for each method: identify the number of participants and differentiate the purpose of each method. Therefore, I decided that this section would contain these two ideas with some pictures to represent these thoughts. The search facility for icons in Piktochart was really good in helping me to get these pictures, sometimes I had to think outside the box for particular icons. For example, with documents, I wanted something that was historical but Piktochart had mainly Egyptian symbols and hence I had to go back to using a document. In the case of observations, when I originally searched “observe”, an “eye” came up instead but I did not think that really demonstrated a direct observation and a microscope popped into my head as a much better representation.

The search facility for icons in Piktochart was really good in helping me to get these pictures, sometimes I had to think outside the box for particular icons. For example, with documents, I wanted something that was historical but Piktochart had mainly Egyptian symbols and hence I had to go back to using a document. In the case of observations, when I originally searched “observe”, an “eye” came up instead but I did not think that really demonstrated a direct observation and a microscope popped into my head as a much better representation.

No need to be artistic – just ensure readability

I am the least artistic person as I know and hence perhaps why I have avoided trying to make a Piktochart before. I am usually quite minimalist in my approach to art (read stick figures!). With the templates, icons and graphics available in Piktochart which are fairly easy to use, I felt like I was being very creative and artistic at the same time. The great part of Piktochart is being able to easily change the colour of the monochrome art and being able to easily align all elements. I usually have a terrible sense of whether objects are aligned but with the Piktochart alignment feature, this was very easy.

However, you need to think about readability. My original infographic felt quite crowded (yes, even more crowded than this one) – and I had to space out my sections so there was more green space between the sections. I have found that more space between the sections, words and pictures, really improves the looks of the infographic and its readability.

 

 

 

Posted in Leadership, Self-Help

Aurora Leadership

Why Aurora Leadership?

On Wednesday, I started the Aurora Leadership programme. They have encouraged us to reflect on our experiences and I thought where better to do this than in my blog.

I started or proposed myself for the Aurora Leadership programme because I wanted to improve my leadership qualities. I do not see myself as a natural leader, I think I would have to be one of those persons who have to fake it till they make it – in other words, what is sometimes referred to as an impostor syndrome. I think in terms of leadership I’ll not have the natural ability but I’ll have to continue to reflect and think about how I can improve as a leader.

I think through starting the programme and being aware of issues around leadership, I have begun to examine leadership qualities in other people and to think about what I would like for myself. I think one of the key things for me as I do more leading, I don’t want to lose myself. In other words, I need to keep my focus clear on who and what I am and not try to be something I am not. I am a person who likes a laugh, I don’t, therefore, think I can be a leader who is not willing to have a laugh, i.e. someone who is continuously serious. Neither do I want to adopt a hypermasculine role for myself so I can imitate men in leadership roles.

Clear Vision

Some of the key things I have learnt so far is that when I am leading something, I tend to have a clear vision of what I want the outcome to be. This can be positive and negative, positively, I know where we are going and would do the processes to get us there. However, on the negative side, I can have probably tunnel-vision and not consider alternative ways of getting the job done or heading in different directions. I think because I tend to have such clear vision and wanting to reduce the tunnel vision, I should probably consult with people on the team on a regular basis but I need to make sure I’m open to the consultancy. I can possibly see myself ignoring things that do not complement my vision and therefore, I need to spend some time reflecting about what people say and decide whether these are better options not for the vision but for what is trying to be achieved.

Talking to People Early-On and Be Excited

Building on the theme about consulting persons, I think because of my clear vision I tend to like to work by myself to accomplish this vision as I sometimes see other people as a distraction from me completing this vision. I, sometimes, discard people in my mind quickly if they are not contributing to the vision. However, one of the things I do admire in one person I know is her ability to talk to people and build networks. I find it difficult to do this. I think for me because I find it difficult, I need to start early on and force myself to talk to people and be excited about what they say and what they do because if they don’t fit my vision immediately, I discard them and I don’t feel excited about them. I’ve learnt that the key to a network is to be excited about what the person can contribute – still learning how to do that! But my issue is when do you know when I’m wasting my time and when I am not.

Perhaps for me, I need to have about 3 or 4 visions written down and as I come across people, I should think about which vision they fit. Further, I think I should have short, medium and long-term visions and see how people fit into each of these and then when I meet them I can have more planned excitement. I know it seems mechanical, but I think this strategy would work for me. I’ll try and give it a go and see how it works and hopefully, in a few months, I can see how it works.

Come with Solutions

One of the top tips I think I learnt from the day at Aurora, is that when I have a problem, I should come with a solution to a meeting. I think it is easy to come up with a list of problems, but this is not what people want to know; they don’t want more problems being heaped upon them. I think even if I come with a rubbish solution at least it provides a starting place to start discussing the solutions. Further, in this way, I can put forward my idea for a solution if I did have one. I noticed at a meeting we had on Thursday, I was listing a number of issues/ problems but I was not suggesting any solutions. When I realised that I started suggesting solutions and I think it was more receptive (I could be wrong – but at least my perception of myself in the meeting is changing). I think if you present a list of challenges it might come over as a negative rather than trying to be helpful. So, from now on, any challenge I present I am going to have a tentative solution at least!

Suggesting People Can Do Things

One thing I have noticed from some leaders that I like, when they ask me to something, I notice they always suggest that I can do it and then ask me whether I can do it. That makes me more receptive to doing the job. I guess in a way it is showing some supportive autonomy (from Deci and Ryan’s idea of self-determination theory). For example, if I was going to ask someone to write a paper, then I can something like:

I think you would be a good person to write this paper because of your background, correct me if I’m wrong. Would you like to have a go at doing it?

If the person still feels tentative and haven’t said a definite no, then I can add:

Well, I believe you can do this, why don’t you try it and see where it goes and I’ll be here to help if necessary.

This way I’ve provided them with a get-out clause if it all goes pear-shaped but also I’ve been able to delegate a job to someone else. I think because I have shown belief in them, they’re more likely to try and do a good job to fulfil my belief (I’m sure there is some theory that supports the idea – but I can’t recall it!). I would, however, need to check and make sure the job is getting done but hopefully not micromanage after giving the person supportive-autonomy and control.

Posted in Events, Pet Peeves

Moving

Well, we are moving to Surrey, so I can take up my new job. It is getting a bit stressful at the moment trying to finish off lectures and tie up loose ends and then pack as well. J. originally wanted to move at Easter but I sort of “convinced” him that we should do it before my job starts which is the 1st March. This means that I have to take the brunt of packing (which I have to admit I’m not entirely good at!). However, as he is down in London during the week it does mean that I have to pick up the slack.

I actually don’t think I mind packing but then J. reminded I had to clean as well – otherwise we may lose a bit of our deposit I hate cleaning!!! Well not completely hate but had only psyched myself up to pack and now cleaning has been thrown into the mix it is making me feel stressed. I guess I just need to make a list of things to get done and just do it. I think also because I have things in my job that is occupying my mind it is making it difficult to think about packing as the job always seem more important than the things at home.

Well, here are some of the things I need to get done – maybe if I write it down it would not feel so bad:

  1. Wipe the walls (i.e. smudges from handprints etc.)
  2. Clean the fridge (well need to defrost as well but could do superficial clean)
  3. Trim loose threads on sofa cushions
  4. Wash sofa covers
  5. Take off all the blu-tack from the walls
  6. Mop the floors
  7. Vacuum the carpets
  8. Clean downstairs toilet and sink
  9. Clean upstairs bath and sink
  10. Pack up all lose books and papers
  11. Pack the food from kitchen cupboards
  12. Pack the non-essential clothing
  13. Pack other clothing
  14. Pack dressing table (jewellery etc.)
  15. Throw out the destroyed hula-hoops
  16. Take out the fairy lights from plant
  17. Pack laundry!

It doesn’t look like that much – just need to get it done now :D. Most of it is general cleaning which I can do in 2-3 hours if I put my mind to it …

I think tomorrow when I get home, I’ll work on packing the laundry, taking the fairy lights out, packing up the dressing table and cleaning the blu-tack from the walls!

Posted in Internet Fun Things

True Personality Test: Builder/ Explorer

So, was watching tv this afternoon (came home early after a completely horrid day – never mind that …) and I saw the advert for match.com that they had a new personality test. So decided I had to go try it (because I like doing tests!). So resurrected my old username and password for match.com and got to doing my personality test (I was surprised my profile was still there – I just fill too many internet profiles for my own good!). Got to say it is pretty accurate.

They classify me as a BUILDER/ explorer (Builder being my major personality and explorer being my minor personality).

Here’s the meaning of these two personalities (I’ll highlight which is true):

Builder, 28%: Usually very popular. Deep attachment to home and family. Calm demeanour and low anxiety. Often consistent, loyal and protective.

Explorer, 27%: Known for high energy, high creativity and spontaneity. Seeks novelty, risk and pleasure. Intellectually curious and not easily swayed by opinion.

But that was just the general categories. Here is what they said about my personality – and I got to say it does reflect a lot about me (I’ll highlight the bits I think are very true!).

You are popular, trustworthy and dependable. People like you for many reasons; but among them you tend to be stable, loyal and caring and you have a wonderful knack for common sense.

You are a guardian. Your relationships with friends, kin and colleagues are important to you. So you spend time and energy developing and defending these social networks.

You are a good executive and manager. People almost instinctively feel you can supervise financial, business and social issues effectively. And because you are sensible and factual, you can.

You work hard. You like schedules. You are detail oriented. And you tend to respect traditions. So you bring strength and stability to your social and business environments.

Yet you admire people who are spontaneous and you enjoy new and different ideas and experiences, as long as they are not dangerous. Respectability and appropriateness are important to you. And you are capable of deep, solid friendships.

Posted in Church, Events, Fun Things, Milton Keynes

Get your bananas ready …

Mood: cheeky cheeky
Now Playing: You’re the Inspiration (Chicago)

Your fair-trade bananas that is! Tomorrow from noon to Saturday noon (GMT time), a new record is trying to be set. The record is the number of fair trade bananas that could be eaten in 24 hrs!

Now, you don’t have to eat a tonne of bananas, you just have to eat one and tell the fair-trade foundation that you have :). Or you can just tell me – and I would send it in to them :D.

So, have you got your banana ready – I have mine!

As a side note:Yes, I know this blog-post would have ended nice and punchy with the last line – but I just like adding my personal experience and making these posts more boring than they should 😀 … just want to say that I always buy fair-trade … not because I’m really huge into it – but because I always buy Caribbean bananas (I got to support my region!) – and they just happen to be fairly traded. Besides there is this lady at church who makes sure we know all about fair-trade and she is promoting this event … :).

I love Caribbean bananas … the variety is Cavendish – the best banana in the world (well, it is the only variety people in the UK is most likely to get). I used to get it when I lived in St. Vincent … when I moved the Guyana had a similar variety called Cayenne and then in Trinidad a slightly different variety which is called Gros Michel.

Posted in Events, Family, Travel

I am jealous …

Mood: spacey spacey
Now Playing: If you leave me now (Chicago)

Right at this moment it is Carnival Monday in Trinidad – I imagine lots of people are enjoying the holiday, playing mas or at the beach making a ‘cook’ (Trinidad slang for cook-out) whilst I’m stuck here in my office in the UK.

Now, whilst that might be enough to be jealous of … I completely jealous about something else. Also, at this moment … my brother and his girlfriend and my sister and her boyfriend are all visiting my parents in Guyana for the long weekend. Today is also Masharami (Guyana’s carnival).

Now, I’m the only one not there to make the family complete. Hmmphhh. The only reason that pops out immediately as to why I’m not there is obviously because I’m not paired up with somebody 😀 !

Posted in Internet Fun Things, Pet Peeves, Technology

I’ll show you CBS Radio … uh, maybe not

Mood: chatty chatty
Now Playing: Country Comforts (Rod Stewart)

Yesterday, I went to play my Yahoo Radio (Launchcast) when I found out something extraordinary … Launchcast was now taken over by CBS Radio. Sure that was fine until I found out they were no longer giving you your personalised radio.

How dare they! How double dare they! I did not spend the last 5 years of my life rating songs, albums and artists for that to be taken away from me. I was at  over 6000 ratings – another 3000 and something ratings and I would have been a Rating Master (I already passed Rating Addict 😀 ). My personalised radio was so customised, there was not a song on there I never liked.

Well, I thought I’ll show them. I’ll go over to Last.Fm and set up my radio station there instead – I have to admit whilst Last.Fm allows you to tag songs etc., I still prefer Yahoo Radio (well, what it used to be), since I could rate songs, albums and singers on a 4 star scale and then they’ll know to what extent I like the songs and play them in that priority. In Last.Fm you either love or not love the song … hmm, not good. And for artists, well, if I say I like an artist – I may like some songs of theirs but not all – but that is not a consideration!

Plus, on Yahoo radio there was a mixture of recommended and songs I rated on the same radio – on Last.Fm you either play your library or recommended and it is such a pain to add artists. You have to go directly to their artist page to add them – on Yahoo Radio, you could just rate them right there as you’re listening.

Not pleased with Last.Fm but at least I can have a customisable radio since CBS Radio saw fit to take out the one good thing about Yahoo Radio! Anyway, I thought by joining Last.Fm I will show CBS Radio for spoiling my Yahoo Radio, until I read the history of Last.Fm and found out they’re also owned by CBS radio! Well, so much for showing them 😦 .