Data Analysis & Visualization

2010 Final Topic and 2010 Short LIst: Time-to-Adoption: Four to Five Years
New topic in 2010.

A variety of tools are emerging that make it possible to extract data from large datasets and display it in new ways. These tools do not require sophisticated math skills—as used to be the case to do work of this nature—and they present data in forms that make patterns obvious and intuitive to grasp. Online services such as Many Eyes, Wordle, Flowing Data, and Gapminder accept uploaded data and allow the user to configure the output to varying degrees. Some tools, like Roambi, have mobile counterparts, making it easy to carry interactive, visual representations of data wherever one goes.

The implications for education are that these tools, backed by powerful computers that can easily cope with large amounts of data, will help us understand not only the concepts embedded in large datasets, but also to gain a deeper understanding of learning itself. Capturing and visualizing student data may enable teachers to make better decisions about what and how to teach. The expectation is that tools for gathering, reporting, and visualizing educational data will make it easier to understand where schools are successful, as well as seeing where improvements can be made.

Relevance for Teaching, Learning & Creative Expression

  • New apps for mobiles place data visualization in the palm of one's hand: Roambi charts your data, while SimpleMind Xpress is a colorful and intuitive mind-mapper.
  • Harvard scientists are using data visualization to measure the expansion velocity of the supernova remnant Chandra.
  • With Wordle, students can analyze their papers and see in moments which points need further development, and whether or not certain language has been overused.


For Further Reading

7 Things You Should Know About Data Visualization II
(Educause, August 2009.) This article discusses data visualization as it relates to higher education: who's using it, why they're using it, and what to expect in the future.

Data visualization tools for free or cheap
(Tracy Boyer, Innovative Interactivity, 14 May 2009.) This post offers a brief summary with applicable links to many data visualization sites.

FlowingData Graphs Your Life Via Twitter
(Clay Dillow, Fast Company, 15 July 2009.) Track anything you like via a private Twitter address: every time you have a cup of coffee, blood sugar readings, chocolate cravings, workout time or distances. A graph builds over time of all the data sent in.