What is Information Visualization?


Information visualization is the graphical representation of technical, often complex data, designed to be understood quickly and easily. 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. This format is particularly compelling for academic and research libraries as it enables researchers and scientists to present complex findings in ways that are easier to comprehend than raw datasets. A well-designed infographic can illuminate facts buried in the pages of a dense report or text, or interpret 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 researchers and students, the study of information visualization covers a number of valuable skills relating to data analysis, design thinking, and contextual, inquiry-based exploration — in addition to the technical capacities required to carry out ideas using creative software.

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

  • The ability to visualize student and instructor activity in an LMS will enable instructors and program directors/chairs to proactively address current situations that might be prevent student success. - elizabeth.barrie elizabeth.barrie Oct 1, 2016
  • Data visualization is now a top and desired skills in business. It is important as we move into adopting adaptive learning and other learning and campus analytics. As we continue the work on IoT in cities and on campus this becomes an important expertise. Schools (undergraduate and graduate) are opening new programs that address this trend - mayaig mayaig Oct 3, 2016
  • At every turn we seem to be confronted with new forms of visual communication requirements. Whether that is communicating a design to a 3D printer, visualizations, digital storytelling, or even Powerpoint/Keynote presentations. We are moving rapidly into a post-textual world and most of our programs, let alone faculty, are stuck in a textual environment. We don't teach this effectively. - tom.haymes tom.haymes Oct 26, 2016

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

  • It seems that information visualization goes beyond a mere infographic to include data dashboards that are pulling complex data in real time and displaying it in ways that are easy to interpret. - elizabeth.barrie elizabeth.barrie Oct 1, 2016
  • I think we need to drop "information" from this topic. All visualization is by definition "informational" in nature, even a fine arts photograph or abstract art. Data visualization is a subset of this and I think we often become fascinated with the newish technological capabilities in this area but even data visualization has to convey an effective narrative and this is often missed. - tom.haymes tom.haymes Oct 26, 2016

(3) What do you see as the potential impact of this technology on higher education?

  • With the enhanced information visualization that is provided in data dashboards, retention, progression and completion numbers could improve at higher education institutions. The abilty to intervene while a problem is occurring to prevent drops, failures and/or withdrawls is greatly improved with advanced information visualization of LMS data. - elizabeth.barrie elizabeth.barrie Oct 1, 2016
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(4) Do you have or know of a project working in this area?

  • The University of Nevada Las Vegas is using historic LMS data to pilot test a data dashboard that enables program directors and chairs to identify online courses in which the instructor presence is falling below minimum standards of best practice. The pilot test of the dashboard will explore including SIS data in the visualization in addition to LMS data. - elizabeth.barrie elizabeth.barrie Oct 1, 2016
  • The West Houston Institute's IDEAS Academy will explicitly teach Design Thinking and visual communication. http://hccs.edu/institute

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