Thursday, May 10, 2012

The Goldilocks Effect - Visualizing Just The Right Amount

Source: Venture Beat
Whether they realize it or not, our students are inundated with numbers. It can be hard for them to get a handle on the competing streams of information from tech and social media. One way they can learn to negotiate this "Age of Big Data" is by becoming familiar with the different types of charts and displays. A taxonomy of graphs is a good place to start. They can also be exposed to data terminology, such as "model," "attribute," "variable," "quantitative," "qualitative," "aggregate," "granular," etc. In particular, Jeff Hendrickson of Armedia explains that most data can be filtered into three main categories: "temporal, relational, and quantitative." Guiding students to look at graphics that present these kinds of information can be good introductions to the world of visual statistics. As Hendrickson says, these simple tools can help give a method to the big data madness.
Source: Oliver Munday and GOOD

For young learners, the PlanetSmith blog gives a nice example of how simple math rules can assist third graders. The post, "Data and Decision Making," gives tips on how to combine multiplication tools with a fresh sense of urgency.

The easy access to data helps explain the benefits of visualizations as teaching tools. While experts point to William Playfair as the inventor of the modern chart in the late 1700s, not until the early 1900s does Otto Neurath earn distinction as the father of data visualization.

Source: Understanding Graphics
Data visualization is "the practice of turning raw, abstract data into usable, visual information." Nathan Yau of Flowing Data describes it as a "medium" for "telling stories." Well-crafted infographics, for example, can combine art with statistics to let students learn about current events or media literacy. Irving Wladawsky-Berger at the CIO Report underscores the point that as technology becomes more complex, design becomes more important than ever. Design, in essence, is a technique of problem-solving. Using shapes and colors to convey complex notions is at the core of interdisciplinary learning.

Two excellent resources for visualizations in the classroom are:

For further reading, check out our earlier post on "Education In The Age Of Big Data." Also, we recommend these articles about visualization:

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