What is Information Visualization?

Information visualization is the graphical representation of technical, often complex data, designed to be understood quickly and easily. Popularly called “infographics,” this type of media is highly valuable in the age of ubiquitous knowledge, and the people who create it are equally desired by organizations seeking to share messages that make an impact. This format is particularly compelling for academic and research libraries as it enables researchers and scientists to present complex findings in ways that are easier to comprehend than raw datasets. A well-designed infographic can illuminate facts buried in the pages of a dense report or text, or interpret a detailed concept, such as an underground transit system, with clarity and simplicity. The modern age is embracing the power of design to engage and inform audiences through infographics, and social media is the vehicle to take them viral, making information more relevant and accessible on a global level. For researchers and students, the study of information visualization covers a number of valuable skills relating to data analysis, design thinking, and contextual, inquiry-based exploration — in addition to the technical capacities required to carry out ideas using creative software.

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(1) How might this technology be relevant to the educational sector you know best?

  • I believe that data literacy is one of the important skills our students must acquire. The creation of infographics covers information literacy (searching for valid information), data literacy (creating or manipulating the data), and digital literacy (the use of the technology tools to create the infographic). - kathyschrock kathyschrock Apr 8, 2016
  • Use infographics to convey the message. Need to move beyond text and essays. Perhaps, the exam is to create a visual that displays understanding, not a count of words. - michael.lambert michael.lambert Apr 24, 2016
  • This technology is not only relevant for student users, but it is also relevant (on a daily basis) for other stakeholders such as educators and parents. Educators are expected to use data regularly to inform their decision making, and most of the tools educators use to do this (e.g., computerized data systems and data reports generated within these data systems) employ visualization for numeric data but also other information such as descriptions and feedback. The way information is visualized has a significant impact on how easily and accurately educators understand the data. Edtech tools that employ information visualization should follow Over-the-Counter Data (OTCD) Standards in order to follow best practices (informed by extensive research) for proper information visualization. The “Package/Display” OTCD Standards are particularly applicable. Some resources giving the basics include:
    http://www.amazon.com/Designing-Data-Reports-that-Work/dp/113895618X/ref=asap_bc?ie=UTF8 - drjrankin drjrankin Apr 27, 2016

(2) What themes are missing from the above description that you think are important?

  • Although you cover the use of the infographic to inform, it can also be used to persuade and advocate. - kathyschrock kathyschrock Apr 8, 2016- drjrankin drjrankin Apr 27, 2016
  • I would change “A well-designed infographic” to “A well-designed infographic, graph, diagram, or other visualization” and I would change “This format is particularly compelling for academic and research libraries” to something like “This format is particularly compelling when researchers present findings outside of formal academia’s elite circles, such as with practitioners,” since visualizations are more valuable when they are able to make information clear to people who might otherwise miss data’s implications in a traditional, non-visual display (such as a data table), an non-researchers are less likely to understand non-visual data than researchers are.- drjrankin drjrankin Apr 27, 2016

(3) What do you see as the potential impact of this technology on teaching, learning, or creative inquiry?

  • Having students know how to manipulate data and then, with an attention to the audience they want to reach, come up with a way to grab them, make them read not skim, and learn is the end result of any good infographic. Creating for a specific audience is an important skill for our students. - kathyschrock kathyschrock Apr 8, 2016
  • When done right, information visualization will have a significant impact on educators’ abilities to make well-informed decisions that impact students (and thus a large impact on teaching and learning). Right now, most inferences educators draw when using data are flawed (see https://www.edsurge.com/n/2014-06-28-when-data-systems-actively-support-data-analysis). However, when information is presented following Over-the-Counter Data (OTCD) Standards (e.g., best display practices), educators’ data analysis accuracy can be doubled, tripled, or quadrupled depending on the standards employed (not to mention the gains from following all the standards). See www.overthecounterdata.com/s/OTCDStandards.pdf for more information. When educators are sharing well-displayed data and modeling good data use, these standards have a greater likelihood of becoming part of students’ abilities to effectively visualize information. - drjrankin drjrankin Apr 27, 2016

(4) Do you have or know of a project working in this area?

  • Again, I have a page with successful educational practices in the use of infographics as a formative or summative assessment for students. http://www.schrockguide.net/infographics-as-an-assessment.html - kathyschrock kathyschrock Apr 8, 2016 - drjrankin drjrankin Apr 27, 2016 [great resource Kathy - I just tweeted it!]
  • Colorado Dept. of Education's work:- mporter mporter Apr 23, 2016
  • Standards for research-based best practices in information visualization within the field of education (i.e., Over-the-Counter Data Standards) are being used by educational technology data system companies such as Illuminate Education (contact: Lane Rankin), Schoolzilla (contact: Leo Bialis-White), Silverback Learning Solutions (contact: Rudi Lewis), LinkIt! (contact: Ryan Winter); and are used by school districts and departments of education (that have data systems) such as Metro Nashville Public Schools (contact: Dr. Margie Johnson), South Dakota Department of Education (contact: Sara Kock), and in the early stages at Oregon Department of Education (contact: Jan McCoy). This noncommercial research website (mine) captures my research in this area: www.overthecounterdata.com …and most of my books cover this topic: http://www.amazon.com/Jenny-Grant-Rankin/e/B015XANKSA?ref_=pe_1724030_132998060 - drjrankin drjrankin Apr 27, 2016

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