What is Information Visualization?

Information visualization blends highly advanced computational methods with sophisticated graphics engines to tap the extraordinary ability of humans to see patterns and structure in even the most complex visual presentations. Currently applied to massive, heterogeneous, and dynamic datasets, such as those generated in studies of astrophysical, fluidic, biological, and other complex processes, the techniques have become sophisticated enough to allow the interactive manipulation of variables in real time. Ultra high-resolution displays allow teams of researchers to zoom into interesting aspects of the renderings, or to navigate along interesting visual pathways, following their intuitions and even hunches to see where they may lead. New research is now beginning to apply these sorts of tools to the social sciences as well, and the techniques offer considerable promise in helping us understand complex social processes like learning, political and organizational change, and the diffusion of knowledge.

INSTRUCTIONS: Enter your responses to the questions below. This is most easily done by moving your cursor to the end of the last item and pressing RETURN to create a new bullet point. Please include URLs whenever you can (full URLs will automatically be turned into hyperlinks; please type them out rather than using the linking tools in the toolbar).

Please "sign" your contributions by marking with the code of 4 tildes (~) in a row so that we can follow up with you if we need additional information or leads to examples- this produces a signature when the page is updated, like this: - Larry Larry Feb 7, 2012

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

  • The ability to describe and depict data is a very important aspect of engaging in cyberinfrastructure (big data + distributed collaboration + ultrahigh speed networking. Helping K-12s to see that they live in a data rich world and that using the data to make sense of the world is an important mindset as well as 21st C skill. - marcia.mardis marcia.mardis Mar 5, 2013
  • I think it would help students understand the relationship among things. (I love topics like this, where when you search K-12 Information Visualization and the most relevant info is from NMC! It validates the importance of this work.) - jmorrison jmorrison Mar 6, 2013
  • The relationship between Information Visualization and Machine Learning? http://create.visual.ly and
    http://infogr.am/ - michael.lambert michael.lambert Mar 6, 2013

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

  • I'd like to see some mention of children as creators of the visualizations, not just consumers of the images. - marcia.mardis marcia.mardis Mar 5, 2013
  • Marcia, most likely you have seen these sites that allow students to create their own visualizations. When working with students, the challenge is "what" we want and "why" do we need this. http://create.visual.ly

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

  • Understanding and creating infographics are a great way to introduce kids to data visualization. Applications like piktochart (http://piktochart.com) are easy to use, template driven applications. Data can be chosen from what kids are interested in most--local weather data sets, data kids collect themselves over time, data relating to relatively harmless aspects of their school community like attendance on holidays, etc. The idea is to get kids thinking about linking data to analysis to communication/depiction - marcia.mardis marcia.mardis Mar 5, 2013
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(4) Do you have or know of a project working in this area?