Visual Tools

In our educational system we tend to think of communication as being written, verbal. However many people prefer to take information in visually.

We have tried a variety of tools over the years to increase the impact of what we need to communicate – to provide an overview of the totality rather than a linear chain of words. After all a picture is worth a thousand words.

So here are my top 5 tools.

1) My phone.

I have an old orange phone but my goodness it takes good pictures. All of the photos on this site and on the site together with the guide and case studies were taken with this unobtrusive friend.  They are easily good enough for web work and for producing professional case studies. And its 3 years old – no idea how I managed before.

Sissinghurst in the rain - from the Intelligent Garden

2) Camtasia.

Allows you to capture what’s going on on a computer screen or put a voice track over a set of power point slides for creating distance learning materials. Not especially cheap but can be used to create quite sophisticated offerings without too much trouble.

3) i-MindMap

Colourful mindmapping tool developed by the original mindmap man himself – Tony Buzan.  Lets you create mindmaps that expand in sequence and can be used with Camtasia to produce powerful little encapsulations of knowledge to liven up otherwise dull web pages.

i-Mind Map drawing

4) Visio

People often ask how I create the images that I use in web sites and in documents. Visio is the answer – an old war horse now a semi-detatched member of the Microsoft Suite (like MS project). Fantastic for quickly and easily creating flow type diagrams. I use it extensively on projects for creating A3 diagrams which can be laminated up and used to engage people with complex ideas. Can be used for visual CVs as well.

Diagram created in Visio

5) YouTube etc

Be able to create movies on the fly adds so much value in so many areas. Whether you are demonstrating how soil testing kits work as in the Intelligent Garden, capturing video clips for case studies, or just trying to prove that your musical atrocities are less atrocious than they really are, the combination of an inexpensive HD camcorder ( I use a Sony) MS moviemaker which is free and YouTube means that the dedicated amateur can  make some real headway in getting points across.

If you need longer videos than 10 minutes, Viddler – also free – is a good back up choice.

How did we ever manage without it.

Dr Alan Rae’s YouTube channel

If you need help or advice about these tools, please telephone us on 0845 094 0407

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