What is Information Visualization?

Information visualization is the graphical representation of technical, often complex data that is designed to be understood quickly and easily by the layperson. 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. A well-designed infographic can illuminate facts buried in the pages of a dense report or text, or explicate 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 teaching and learning, the study of infographics covers a number of valuable skills relating to data analysis, design thinking, and contextual, inquiry-based research, not to mention the technical capacities required to carry out ideas using creative software. Information visualization will continue to capture the imaginations and attentions of scientists, designers, and audiences, while carving its niche as a 21st century discipline.

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

  • - michael.boll michael.boll Oct 16, 2015As an ES Technology Coach, we deal in the visual at the outset of learning in the primary grades. However, we seem to push kids away from visual communication as we teach them to write and read. This newer movement is helping to change that. We are better understanding that visual communication is still very powerful and should be combined with written communication.
  • - JasonTiefel JasonTiefel Nov 4, 2015Agreed! Kids spend so much time writing to communicate as they move up in year level. By the time they are in high school (esp. in programs like the IB Diploma) they seldom get a chance to communicate in other ways (aside from the odd presentation here and there).
  • Information visualization is perhaps also film and video production. More and more information and tutorials are to find on youtube or elsewhere as videos, and everyone is making vieos as the technology allows it. However, not many has really learned about visual storytelling and film grammar. Visual grammar should be as important as to learn to read and write so the skills and knowledge can follow the technology development. - mortensenj2 mortensenj2 Nov 10, 2015
  • Agreed with all this, it is the natural evolution of digital storytelling and bite sized information. It is a huge leap on saliency and articulation for students and teachers. - matt.harris matt.harris Nov 13, 2015

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

  • "graphical representation of technical, often complex data that is designed to be understood quickly and easily by the layperson" - this definition captures the dynamic that teachers have with parents when discussing student performance. Our task is to communicate complex data (i.e. student performance) to a layperson.- JasonTiefel JasonTiefel Nov 5, 2015
  • Connection of representation with data analysis. Student and teachers have to deal with such a large amount of quantitative data and are required to draw conclusion from the data. The workflow of raw data to visualization is a key analytical and technical skill. - matt.harris matt.harris Nov 13, 2015

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

  • Visualized data could drastically change the way we do reporting on student performance. Teacher spend an inordinate amount of time writing comments that many parents either won't or can't read (this is common in intl schools, where some parents do not read or write English). This also encourages a system where reporting is an event done at certain intervals, rather than a process that is ongoing. If we can become more efficient in how we collect data, and visualize that data in a way that is dynamic and ongoing, we won't have any need for a "reporting season." Each student will have a dashboard with important information (from grades to attendance among others) that updates in real time, giving them an ongoing awareness of their performance. Much of what we need to communicate to students and parents can be done more effectively through visuals.- JasonTiefel JasonTiefel Nov 4, 2015
  • I think it provides immense opportunity for information dissemination for students within and without the school environment. As infographics are so popular in modern online media, students can engage the global discussion in key issue we are preparing them for. Further, infographics are awesome way to show understanding and contextual usage of data. Great assessment tool. - matt.harris matt.harris Nov 13, 2015
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(4) Do you have or know of a project working in this area?

  • I wish there were more - I just stumbled across this company that appears to be doing this, but have no experience with it.- JasonTiefel JasonTiefel Nov 4, 2015
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Visual grammar