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?

  • Visualization is about communication. We are fundamentally in the business of communication. - tom.haymes tom.haymes Oct 20, 2015
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(2) What themes are missing from the above description that you think are important?

  • I think this topic is too narrowly defined. The challenges of processing complex in information is no longer confined to the hard sciences or engineering (if it ever was). All ideas can benefit from being fleshed out using varying narrative forms, whether it's the challenges of creating a video, writing a paper, or creating a mindmap. All force you to deconstruct the problems and reassemble them in different ways. Doing this creates pathways toward solutions or learning that were not easily visible before. - tom.haymes tom.haymes Oct 20, 2015
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(3) What do you see as the potential impact of this technology on higher education?

  • As I discussed in a recent blog I did for the NMC (http://www.nmc.org/blog/the-visualization-gap/) the tools necessary to access visualization are increasingly not the problem. The challenge, as with many other technologies, is one of imagination on the part of our communities. I can see many opportunities to create visualizations as part of the learning process, reinventing our organizations, or just brainstorming in general - all of which impact higher education deeply. - tom.haymes tom.haymes Oct 20, 2015
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(4) Do you have or know of a project working in this area?

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