Week 2: data visualisation

“POTD: Apple bar chart – Apple harvest in statistics” by janmennens is licensed under CC BY-NC-ND 2.0

This week is about familiarising yourself with, and preparing for, the ongoing assessed task: the data visualisation blog. Data visualisation is the graphic representation of data. While, it can be argued, data visualisation has a long history stretching back to ancient times, the proliferation of so-called ‘big data’ in recent years has given rise to a proliferation of charts, graphs, dials, models and infographics, all ostensibly able to represent the complex informational landscapes of our current times. In this sense, data visualisation has emerged as a kind of necessarily literacy for an era in which we are surrounded by pervasive data sets that are too complex to understand in their numerical form, and require some kind of visual rendering so that we can apprehend, understand, and ultimately respond to them.

However, through reading, discussion, and reflection, this week, you will be encouraged to develop an understanding of data visualisation, not just as straightforward explanatory rendering of data, but as an integral part of the ‘datafication’ process itself. We’ll do this by thinking through what kind of data you might use for your visualisations, how to record your various course-related activities as discrete ‘data points’, how you might visually represent that data, and what the resulting visualisations might mean as valuable insights into educational activity. Lupi and Posavec’s ‘Dear Data’ project will be our key source of influence this week as we thinking about what kinds of activity it might be possible, and desirable, to record, as well as how we might turn that data into a useful, interesting, and creative graphical representation.

By the end of the week you should write a brief introductory post on your blog, as well as comment on at least three or four others. Your introductory post should include some reflection on: your reasons for studying this course; what you hope to achieve at the end; and what particular aspects of the topic of ‘data’ interest you most. Remember to be supportive of your peers when you comment, and try to connect with as many of your fellow learners as you can. Note that blog commenting is our principal means of communication in this course, so try to engage with others as much as you can through the comments.

Your key tasks this week will be to: