Tag Archives: visualisation

Week 11 – University & Personal Life Visualisation

Figure 1 – Visualisation

Following on the governance block I have focused here on showing general information on my university life and my personal life. From the readings for this block, it seems as though the view decision makers have is that of averaged, abstract data that can show little about who the person is but give broad indications of what is occurring.

Description of the Visualisation

Everything to the left in the visualisation is related to my university studies and everything to the right is covering a general area of my personal life.

On the University side I have split it into three areas which are:

  1. Reading – course specific reading
  2. University Admin – checking tasks, gathering all the readings, reading feedback
  3. Reflections, Tasks – Visualisations, writing reflections

On the personal side I have three areas also:

  1. Food – Eating, preparing, cleaning up food
  2. Exercise – Walking, yoga, etc
  3. Relaxation – TV, playing video games, reading books


Figure 2 – Legend


Through the readings on governance and over the course of this module I have become aware that decision makers are looking for vague or general information on students, teachers, schools, districts, etc. The closer to the student a viewer of the data is the more detailed information they seem to require, meaning teachers want to have as much information as they can to hand to make a decision on a given student, an administrator wants to see how a class is achieving and district supervisor wants to see how a school is performing.

With this visualisation while it is showing my data in one-hour segments, it would be possible to utilise the same visualisation to show data for an entire class or school. What I have seen as important over the course of this module is to reduce training on how this data can be interpreted and one way to do that is have the same visualisation, so people understand how to read it and then have the visualisation be able to represent a student, a class, or a school. While this has its drawbacks in so far as removing a lot of granularity to the data it ensures that training can be given, and the pitfalls can be called out by the training.

The idea also with this visualisation is that it gives the decision maker some method of being able to express certain areas where they want to see improvement in such as ‘we want people to spend more time reading, how do we achieve that?’ Or ‘we want to ensure students are accessing more exercise as this improves student retention, how can we encourage that?’

Week 10 – Category Visualisation

Figure 1 – Visualisation

As part of governance, it seems as though the view that is desirable is that of averages and broad categories. As data becomes processed at each level the detail is removed from it.

Description of the Visualisation

Along the top of the visualisation, you have a horizontal line that is a linear timeline from the beginning of data capture to the end of capture. Every element on this line is also part of the large circles below.

The circles are split up into the following:

  • Left – University
  • Middle – Personal
  • Right – Work


Figure 2 – Legend


People who are governing and utilising data for that governance are looking for data that is more general. As the data is processed from its raw form the nuance or specifics of the data are generally removed. That is why I have gone with the above visualisation as it shows the administrator or school leaders areas of the students’ day and based on that they can see where the students focus is.

This iteration of the data could show that possibly students should be encouraged or nudged to do more university reading or spending more time outside. Then the governor’s can search out data that has been processed in another manner to show what the students are reading during that time or possibly if there is a reason for limited outside time such as lack of amenities.

There is always the possibility with any data that possibly it was the way in which it was processed that has removed some of its value for scenarios.

Week 9 – Plant Visualisation

Figure 1 – Plant Visualisation

In this block of governance, I wanted to visualise the data in a way that could be used for viewing a student’s day and possibly seeing patterns. Once the patterns are seen then it could be possible to build policy from that. I kept track of my day and the main elements I did during each day.

Description of the Visualisation

This is five different plants (one for each day) with branches / leaves coming off them and under each branch / leaf is the activity during that hour period. These cover the hours of 10:00 to 18:00 as these are the hours that a school or university can track what a student is doing.

Under each branch I placed a symbol for what I did during that hour, this makes it easier to know roughly what I did. Perhaps there could be another type of visualisation to show a time breakdown if required.


Figure 2 – Legend


From the tweetorial and readings I have done this week one of the items that stood out was that of high-level information being utilised. By high level I mean how much class time does a student have, how long do they spend on the education platform, how much time do they spend on campus, etc. All these items are gathered from much more granular detail such as card swipe entries into different areas of the building, but decision makers are looking for totals or averages.

For these reasons I went with broad areas but broke them down by hour, but it is most likely that these would be further processed to just an average for a class or course for some decision to be made on if the necessary targets are being achieved.

Block 2 – Reflection

The last three weeks of visualisations I have tried to put emphasis on how best to show the data in a valuable way for teachers. My feelings through this section have been of frustration for several reasons:

  • What does the visualisation show?
  • What value does the data gathered hold?
  • Can any correlations be drawn from this data to research backed assumptions?
  • A piece of text might be better at explaining the outcome of the data collection than a dashboard

Williamson (2020) explained the frustration I felt for the first two reasons:

Data and metrics set limits on what can be known and what can be knowable. They define what is rendered visible or left invisible, thereby impacting on how certain practices, objects, behaviours and so on gain value, while others are not measured or valued.

As can be seen by this statement I faced a tough choice when choosing what data to capture and to display I thought “I’m going to miss huge swathes of data that could provide context for the data I’m collecting.” I may be able to show how many times I accessed my phone or laptop, but I cannot show that between 10am and 6pm on Wednesday the reason I did not access my laptop or phone was because the electricity was out because the visualisation doesn’t allow for that. If someone has limited access to broadband for example how can that data be gathered and shown.

In ‘The Platform Society’ (van Dijck 2018) it is stated that “critics draw attention to the fact that none of the presumed benefits cited by platforms have been proven empirically.” If the benefits have yet to be proven by some form of study, the platforms and proponents of online education can make any claim they wish. This is how unregulated areas of the economy function such as the vitamin industry making claims such as a vitamin can stop a virus without any evidence or how certain treatments in the cosmetic sector can make claims like ‘this will reverse ageing.’ If we place education as one of the pillars of society, we should possibly look at some level of regulation to stop wild claims being made.

And finally, after doing six visualisations I struggle to accept that dashboards are the best way to get across information. Within every visualisation I am making personal choices about what colours and styles to utilise and this is very similar to how dashboards and the underlying software is designed. This should not be the case it should be targeted information with as mentioned above some evidence behind what it is showing. With these issues and limitations of dashboards I would believe for the moment they should not be used. I would look at some form of text recap as much information and specifically individual student details cannot be expressed in a dashboard. There is a lot of work around machine learning and text so it would still be possible to provide a version similar to a dashboard but more granular.


Williamson, Ben, Bayne, Sian & Shay, Suellen, 2020. The datafication of teaching in Higher Education: critical issues and perspectives. Teaching in higher education, 25(4), pp.351–365.

van Dijck, José Poell, Thomas & de Waal, Martijn, 2018. The Platform Society, Chapter 6 Oxford: Oxford University Press USA – OSO.

Week 8 – Time Spent and Apps Opened Visualisation

Figure 1 – Time / Apps Visualisation

I kept track of how much time I spent on my phone over the week and tried to keep rough track of what apps I used during that period. I limited the apps on the visualisation to those that I accessed twenty times or greater. Within keeping track of how much time I spent on the phone I was able to see how many times I unlocked the phone.

Description of the Visualisation

There are three lines on the visualisation representing the following in order:

  1. Time spent on the phone (clock at the end of the line)
  2. Number of times phone was unlocked (tally counter at the end of the line)
  3. How many times an app was opened (window at the end of the line)

Each line gives some basic information but when combined together the viewer would be able to draw some correalations as to what the user was doing during a given day.


Figure 2 – Legend


The idea behind this week was to track my phone usage similar to how it was described in ‘The Platform Society’ (van Dijck et al 2018) that AltSchool would monitor their students, “each pupil has an iPad or Chromebook, and every activity is automatically recorded and analyzed” (p. 7). Within that though was to show how maybe that the information that is gathered might be a bit thin on substance meaning that there might be little to gain from tracking it.

The visualisation itself has a clock, tally counter and windows these were used because they are something people have come in contact with and would be familar with.

In different sections of the visualisation the same colours needed to be reused due to running out of colours but I think this also highlights the same situation in dashboards. Within dashboards you can have several different items being shown on the screen and all depending on the colour pallette available might get confused at what is being shown.

Week 7 – Line Visualisation

Figure 1 – Line Visualisation

Over the last week I tracked what I did throughout the day. I only marked down a new entry when I moved to a new activity, I did not track how long I did the activities for.

Description of the Visualisation

I took inspiration from Dear Data, Week 7 Complaints, when doing this visualisation.

Each line on the left hand side of the image represent tasks done prior to 13:00 and each line on the right hand side represents tasks after 13:00. The measurements are for 5 days and each day has a different inclination, day 1 starting from the top to day 5 at the bottom.


Figure 2 – Legend


I wanted to show what it might be like for a teacher looking at data on a dashboard. There are a lot of lines but if there is limited training how do you know which lines are important or something that should be actioned. Even with a legend or some explanation about the graph how can a teacher understand the reasoning or the underlying logic for why something is being shown to them.

Due to limited colours I decided to use the same colours for different tasks depending on what side of 13:00 the task was. I think this brought out a good point, in that teachers are bombarded with graphs and dashboards with different lines and colours but again no training or context to what they mean. One graph could show a yellow line being something important but in another graph a yellow line could be simply an average marker.

Week 6 – Picnic Visualisation

Figure 1 – Picnic Visualisation

This week I focused on gathering the information I have gathered over the previous three weeks which were:

  • that of distractions (meals, tea, snacks, etc)
  • time outside
  • focus on course materials (reading, twitter, responding to posts, etc)

The reason for this was to show in one visualisation how busy any given week is.

Description of Visualisation

The visualisation is showing a picnic on a bed of grass, there is a blanket in the middle with different plates of food on it and the sun is out and shining.

The idea here is that each of the blades of grass represents a different distraction faced throughout the week. The individual rays from the sun are showing how often I have been outside in the week. On the blanket are different plates which represent different activities surrounding the module/course.


Figure 2 – Picnic Legend


The idea behind this was to show a teacher that in students lives there are many surrounding items that occur. The blanket which is specifically for items on the course is what the teacher can see but it is important for the teacher to be able to understand that surrounding it from all directions are items that can affect a student.

Teachers are normally very good at understanding that there are other items going on in peoples lives. As we move more towards AI teachers and algorithms making choices on students the above items do not seem to be factored in. I understand that there is discussion about wearables, but that doesn’t factor in personal issues, wearables are more focused on tracking and monitoring of the physical person not the person in a more human / personal sense.

Week 5 – Distraction Visualisation

Figure 1 – Distractions

Since the beginning of the year I have been getting distracted easily from work or masters related reading. I noticed that since we are stuck at home my main way of distracting myself was getting cups of tea so thats how this visualisation came to be, I wanted to see all the times I distracted myself along with keeping track of all the times I had a snack (normally always biscuits).

Description of the Visualisation

This visualisation is similar to an ECG, each ECG is a different day starting from top (Monday) to bottom (Friday). Along the top you can roughly see the time (that was more for me) which only covers 9am to midnight as these are my active hours.


Figure 2 – Legend


I went for an ECG style drawing as most of my time is spent sitting down at a laptop which doesn’t really get my heart going in the literal sense. Each time I get up my heart has to work and start to beat more (albeit only slightly).

I took the approach over this block to keep my visualisations quite simple, I have quite a lot of data hidden behind each heart beat such as what I ate for each snack, dinner, breakfast, etc. My goal over the next block will be to expand the complexity of the visualisations.

Week 4 – Personal Data Visualisation

Figure 1 – Personal Tracking

A few years ago, I heard Matthew Walker author of Why We Sleep? discussing how important sleep was to pretty much everything we do. Something that is said is that if you don’t get a good night sleep you won’t be able to “take things in.”

Description of the Visualisation

From left to right is each day, each ring/line represents a different recommended amount of activity. The idea of the circles comes from video games and the idea of levelling up (I looked to for this example to explain what I see in my head).



The reason for measuring these was hearing several different articles recently mentioned that people especially since the new year were struggling to sleep and focus and I count myself as one of those people. I notice that when I don’t get a good dose of all three, I struggle with focus and in trying to understand a new topic such as the readings we are tasked with.

I can say that the days on the visualisation that I do not hit the recommended target, that day and the following day are a struggle to concentrate and with that my ability to read and focus drops.

Week 3 – Visualisation

I decided to go for a forest visualisation for this week. The main idea was that these trees would grow over time and if I was to use the same trees each week more branches would be added and the trees would get bigger.

Description of the Visualisation

Each tree represents a day going from left to right, Monday to Friday. For each day, specifically for the Masters, I kept track of different items I did in relation to it. If I did the same action multiple times during the day such as reading, there are multiple branches for the times I started it. I didn’t keep track of the length of time I did each for, just that I did them.

I have gone for a rather broad view of some of the topics. I think as I go forward there will be some weeks where I get more specific.


IDEL Results – This week the IDEL results (last module) were released so there was some preoccupation knowing that they were coming out.

Data – This is anytime I did preparation or admin work for this module such as figuring out what data to monitor or gathering all the readings together.

Reading – Specifically the essential readings for the block.

Forums – Reading and replying to forum threads to see what other people on the course are discussing.

Twitter – This week was a Tweetorial meaning a heavy Twitter round of checking, reading and responding to different ideas to the three different questions of the day.