Category Archives: MOOC

Infographic: Major Players in the MOOC Universe (Nigel Hawtin)

Nigel HawtinNigel Hawtin is the editor of New Scientist and newscientist.com He is a Designer, Graphics reporter, Illustrator and Manager. He is a freelance infographics designer specialising in science and technology. His portfolio can be found on http://newspagedesigner.org/profile/NigelHawtin.

Major Players in the MOOC Universe

MOOC DataViz Showcase #4: Who’s Buying What ? (Andrei Ciobanu)

I continue to showcase some of the beautiful work done by students who attended Professor Cairo’s Introduction to Infographics and Visualization MOOC course in October 2013 that just completed.

This one is to showcase a redesign assignment by Andrei Ciobanu.

Andrei chose to arrange criteria in columns in order to make numbers comparable.

Here was the original design the students needed to redesign.

Original Who's buying What

And here is Andrei’s redesign.

whos buying what - Andrei Ciobanu

MOOC DataViz Showcase #3: Who’s Buying What ? (Jose Rodríguez)

I continue to showcase some of the beautiful work done by students who attended Professor Cairo’s Introduction to Infographics and Visualization MOOC course in October 2013 that just completed.

This one is to showcase is a redesign assignment by Jose Rodríguez.

Here is Jose’s explanation of his redesign.

In the review of “Who is buying what?” tried to focus on increasing the ability to answer questions with little effort from displaying the graph.

The questions we attempt to answer are:

  • What is the difference in purchasing power between the biggest spenders and the least?
  • What kind of expenses do the more expenders and the least expenders?
  • Where are distributed around the world the more spenders and the least?
  • Between the top expenders, what differences exists? and between the top less expenders?

To answers all this questions I do some “re-do”:

    • I put a bar graph to show the huge difference between the top 10 most expenders and the top less expenders, and between them.

    • To show the differences of priorities between top expenders and top less expenders AND between them, I put a vertical bar graph that escalate between top expenders and top less expenders.

    • To show where are distributed the countries less and most expenders I use a world map, but smaller one than original.

Below is the original information graphic design the students were suppose to review, analyze and re-design.

Original Who's buying What

Here is Jose’s redesign.

Jose - whoisbuyingwhat

More of Jose’s work can be found on his personal Web site. The link is below.

www.joserodriguez.info

MOOC DataViz Showcase #2: Who’s Buying What ? (Kamila Zhussupova)

I continue to showcase some of the beautiful work done by students who attended Professor Cairo’s Introduction to Infographics and Visualization MOOC course in October 2013 that just completed.

The one is to showcase is a redesign assignment by Kamila Zhussupova.

Here is Kamila’s explanation of her redesign.

Hi, this is my variant of the infographic (as an online version).

I have tried it to organize in three sectors. All countries, Highest and Lowest Spenders and countries by GNI (Gross National Income per capita in 2012, World Bank Data).

Page/sector – All countries – shows main trends. For example, in general, people spend on recreation and householding goods. Electronic goods are not popular and etc. Also on this page you can click on the country and see information in detail about its spending.

Highest and Lowest Spenders and countries by GNI – are shown in bar charts. Charts are supposed to be in one page (one page for Highest and Lowest Spenders, one for GNI by country – another one page). But couldn’t do it well visual. So, just keep in mind this.

Below is the original information graphic design the students were suppose to review, analyze and re-design.

Original Who's buying What

Here is Kamila’s redesign.

Kamila W4 Final 01 Kamila W4 Final 02 Kamila W4 Final 03 Kamila W4 Final 04 Kamila W4 Final 05

MOOC DataViz Showcase #1: Who’s Buying What ? (Julien Hennequart)

Readers:

As I did when I originally attended Professor Cairo’s Introduction to Infographics and Visualization MOOC course last January, I am showcasing some of the beautiful work done by his current students in the October 2013 class that just completed.

The first one I am going to showcase is a redesign assignment by Julien Hennequart.

Julian focused on three parts of the design for his project.

  1. An overview of the subject, basically the same as the original but with a better organisation.

  2. The second page is on the position of countries relative of each items.

  3. And the last one, a work on the import/export of the items.

Below is the original information graphic design the students were suppose to review, analyze and re-design.

Original Who's buying What

Here is Julian’s redesign.

Mooc-W4-final01 Mooc-W4-final02 Mooc-W4-final03

Professor Cairo’s comments on his review of Julian’s assignment were as follows:

This is arguably the graphic that better preserves the looks of the original one, while making it much more interesting and easy to read. Good job.

How We Learn: Alberto Cairo’s MOOC Class, Critique of Time Magazine Graph – Part 3

Time MagazineOver the past two days, I have been discussing a Special College Report article that is in the current issue of Time Magazine (October 7, 2013). It is titled Class of 2025 How They’ll Learn and What They’ll Pay.

Time discusses the debates going on over traditional education with a core curriculum and other academics who would rather have students attend a more specialized set of courses that allows them to set their curriculum. It seems, however, that all parties involved are most concerned with students having the skills to do critical thinking upon graduation which will make them more successful in the work force.

I had two personal life experiences I wanted to share. Last Saturday in Part 1, I discussed a course I took on the History of Napoleon at Texas A&M Univerity in the early 1980s from the late Dr. Shirley Black.

Yesterday in Part 2, I discussed the Time Magazine article, Online learning will make college cheaper. It will also make it better by L. Rafael Reif, President of MIT, Mr. Reif states that “digital learning is the most important innovation in education since the printing press.” He then describes the benefits of digital learning.

Today, in this third part of this series, I am moving ahead in time and discussing a MOOC class I took early this year from Professor Alberto Cairo titled introduction to Infographics and Data Visualization. I am also currently sitting in the latest section of this course Professor Cairo is teaching that began this month.

Alberto Cairo

Alberto CairoAlberto Cairo is a Professor of the Professional Practice at the School of Communication of the University of Miami. He teaches courses on information graphics and visualization, and is interested in the convergence between visual communication, journalism, cognitive science, cartography, and statistics.

He is the author of the books Infografía 2.0: Visualización interactiva de información en prensa (Alamut, Spain, 2008) and The Functional Art: an Introduction to Information Graphics and Visualization (Peachpit Press/Pearson Education, 2012). He’s working on a new book, tentatively titled The Insightful Art: Storytelling with Data, Charts, Maps, and Infographics, to be published at the end of 2014 by Peachpit Press, too. He’s also the author of a 12-hour video tutorial about how to use Adobe Illustrator to produce information graphics: http://www.thefunctionalart.com/

Between June 2010 and December 2011, Cairo was the director for Infographics and Multimedia at Editora Globo, the magazine division of the biggest media group in Brazil, where he acted as an executive editor for the weekly news magazine Época and as an internal consultant for the other 12 publications of the group. He has also been an assistant professor at the School of Journalism, University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill, between 2005 and 2009. He was the James H. Schumaker Term Assistant Professor in 2008 and 2009.

Alberto Cairo led the creation of the Interactive Infographics Department at El Mundo (elmundo.es, Spain), in 2000. Cairo’s team won more Malofiej and Society for News Design (SND) infographics international awards than any other news organization worldwide between 2001 and 2005.

Cairo has been an invited lecturer and keynote speaker at all most influential international conferences on visual journalism and design. He has taught and consulted for educational institutions and media companies in more than twenty countries.

Professor Cairo’s MOOC Course, Introduction to Infographics and Data Visualization

This course is an introduction to the basics of the visual representation of data. In this class students learn how to design successful charts and maps, and how to arrange them to compose cohesive storytelling pieces. The class will also discuss ethical issues when designing graphics, and how the principles of Graphic Design and of Interaction Design apply to the visualization of information.

The course has a theoretical component, and covers the main rules of the discipline, and also a practical one: to design basic infographics and mock ups for interactive visualizations.

Is this class for me?

This class is tailored for journalists and designers. However, it may be a good fit also for anyone with an interest in the visual display of information.

You do not need any previous experience in infographics and visualization to take this course. With the readings, video lectures and tutorials available through the course, you will acquire enough skills to start producing compelling simple infographics almost right away.

How much time will I need every week?

The answer depends on many factors, including your previous experience in this area. My suggestion is to plan between 6-12 hours of work a week. In most cases, that should be the minimum necessary to read the materials, watch the videos, and complete the assignments.

What will I learn?

  • How to analyze and critique infographics and visualizations in newspapers, books, TV, etc., and how to propose alternatives that would improve them.
  • How to plan for data-based storytelling through charts, maps, and diagrams.
  • How to design infographics and visualizations that are not just attractive but, above all, informative, deep, and accurate.
  • The rules of Graphic Design and of Interaction Design, applied to infographics and visualizations.
  • Optional: How to use Adobe Illustrator for creating infographics.

Signing up

I first found out about the course by visiting Mr. Cairo’s Website, http://thefunctionalart.com, after I had purchased his book to read. I had tried to sign up for the first session of this course taught in 2012, but it filled up very quickly (5,000 students were enrolled). I went on full alert to make sure I was able to sign up for the second offering, which started last January. Even with a cap of 5,000 students, the class filled quickly, but I was quick and able to enroll.

Communication

Mr. Cairo started each week by sending us an e-mail “New message from Alberto Cairo” which had a few notes and a link to the course News and Announcements forum. In the forum, Mr. Cairo posted detailed instructions for the week along with any recommendations and insights into the assignment. Between Mr. Cairo and Rachel Barrera, his Graduate Assistant for the class, I received e-mails every few days to let us know what the expectations were, informational items, etc. I felt the communication level was just right and both of them answered e-mail questions in a very timely manner.

Lectures

The lectures were all taught from video. The MOOC philosophy is to keep lectures around 12 minutes or less in length, which works out to about five videos to watch per hour lecture. The reasoning behind this is that our attention span starts to lapse after 15 minutes, so if the class is broken down into smaller chunks, we are more inclined to watch a shorter session on a particular topic as well as retain the information better. For the first week of class, Mr. Cairo’s videos were 2:32 minutes, 6:17 minutes, 12:03 minutes, 8:04 minutes, 9:51 minutes, 14:20 minutes, and 5:35 minutes. His style of lecture is to tell you a story related to the topic. I found the individual lectures very informative, interesting and the time went by very quickly when watching them.

I was surprised to see one of the week 1 lectures for the current class is 54:38 long. I think the reasoning behind this was it was from a presentation he made at a conference and these are usually around an hour long.

Reading

Mr. Cairo gave us a lot of different materials for reading. For example, in the second week of the course, we were assigned the following:

1. Read the interviews with John Grimwade (Condé Nast Traveler) and Steve Duenes/Xaquín GV (The New York Times).

2. Read Data Visualization for Human Perception, by Stephen Few.

Also, each week, Mr. Cairo would provide us links to additional articles, videos, and blogs he put together. They were optional, but again very useful. He also sent us an e-mail each week of links to other interesting materials to read.

Discussion

Each week, we were required to participate in the discussion forums. Whether it was to post our opinion on a topic or review other classmates assignments, we had to post 2-3 entries each week. At first, I did not think I would like this, but found this to be one of the most enjoyable parts of the class. When reviewing other classmate’s projects and assignments, we had 5,000 different examples to choose from, so there should have been discussions that appealed to everyone. I was very fortunate since the ones I picked were very interesting to read. Since we had a large pool of people from many different walks of life, we had a lot of diversity in why they created the design they did, their personal or professional interest in that topic, and the actual visualization they produced often gave me ideas for projects I was working on at work. Even after I finished my mandatory 2-3 entries to review, I often went back and read others I thought were of interest. For the final assignment we were able to pick our own topic. I frequented the discussion forum a lot just to see the variety of topics and infographics my classmates created. I was a bit frustrated that time did not permit me to view them all.

Quizzes

We had two quizzes early in the class. If you read the materials and watched the lectures, you will have no problem with these.

Projects/Assignments

We had three projects to complete as part of the class. The first was to create a topical interactive graphic. The second was to create a visualization, and the third project was to create an infographic.

I was fortunate that several of my classmates allowed me to blog about their completed assignments. Here are links to a few of these blogs.

As the current class progresses, I may ask some of the students if I can highlight their work on my blog too.

Best Quote

“Christmas cards do not cause Christmas to happen, but the two are highly correlated in time.”

Summary

As I now think back some more on my past experience in Professor Cairo’s MOOC class early this year, I feel that the theme of this blog series was accomplished in that class – that all parties involved are most concerned with students having the skills to do critical thinking upon graduation which will make them more successful in the work force. The assignments in this class provided course content in dozens of small conceptual modules of instruction and building on that through the iteration of immediate practice, feedback and reinforcement. We were able to better retain the concepts and were better prepared to put them into practice once the course was over. I also feel strongly that you will get out of a MOOC course what you are willing to put into it. I took this course very seriously and set my goal of getting the Certificate of Completion for the class (which I did). To get this, I had to do all of the course work. This class was something I wanted to take to enhance my skills as well as my career. I also took this course because I had read Mr. Cairo’s book, The Functional Art, and wanted to learn more from him. In regards to the readings, I was fortunate that I had already read most of Mr. Cairo’s book and had previously read many of the articles he assigned, such as Stephen Few’s material, so the reading assignments were not as steeped for me. However, I did go out and read a lot of the supplemental materials that I found of interest too.

Professor Cairo’s lecture style follows the form of story telling. He told the story about John Snow and the 1854 Cholera Epidemic in London, which made me go out and buy Steven Johnson’s book to read about it in more detail. I also loved the story and explanation of how we interpret circles and why not to use them in data visualizations.

When Mr. Cairo offers his next version of this class, I highly recommend you take it if you have the opportunity (sign up early!) I still find myself longing for more and hope Mr. Cairo or his counterparts like Stephen Few, Nigel Holmes, Colin Ware or Edward Tufte offer similar MOOC courses in the near future.

Tomorrow: My Critique of the Time Magazine Graph

How We Learn: Online Learning, MOOCs, and Alberto Cairo – Part 2

L. Rafael Reif, President of MIT

L. Rafael Reif, President of MIT

Yesterday, I started discussing a Special College Report article that is in the current issue of Time Magazine (October 7, 2013). It is titled Class of 2025 How They’ll Learn and What They’ll Pay.

Time discusses the debates going on over traditional education with a core curriculum and other academics who would rather have students attend a more specialized set of courses that allows them to set their curriculum. It seems, however, that all parties involved are most concerned with students having the skills to do critical thinking upon graduation which will make them more successful in the work force.

I had two personal life experiences I wanted to share. Yesterday, I discussed a course I took on the History of Napoleon at Texas A&M Univerity in the early 1980s from the late Dr. Shirley Black.

Today, I am moving ahead in time and discussing a MOOC class I took last year from Professor Alberto Cairo titled introduction to Infographics and Data Visualization. I am also sitting in the current section of this course Professor Cairo is teaching that began this month.

Before I discuss Mr. Cairo’s MOOC class, I would like to discuss the benefits of online learning discussed in the Time magazine report.

Online Learning Makes College Cheaper and Better

In the Time Magazine article, Online learning will make college cheaper. It will also make it better by L. Rafael Reif, President of MIT, Mr. Reif states that “digital learning is the most important innovation in education since the printing press.” He then describes what digital learning is good for.  His first point is that it is good at opening possibilities for billions of human beings who have little or no access to higher learning. He cites the success MIT has had with its OpenCourseWare as an example.

Mr. Reif then points out that online learning is very good at teaching content such as the concepts of circuits and electronics, the principles of chemistry, and the evolution of architectural styles. He then points out that his classroom students are not necessarily ready to apply the concepts that are taught. However, by contrast, compatible students taught through online exercises – including immediate practice, feedback and reinforcements retained the concepts better and were better prepared to put them into practice. Also, by moving the introductory materials to online courses, instructors can now take the time that was previously reserved for lectures and use it to exploit the power of innovative teaching techniques.

Time Magazine - Class of 2025Another advantage of digital learning technologies, although harder to quantify, is flexibility. Traditional colleges require four years at a physical academic address like a university campus where students have to meet regularly at the same place and time. Digital learning allows students to engage the material anytime, any day, as often as they need to, anywhere in the world. I know there were times as a student I wish I had certain lectures from my professors that I would like to have been able to listen to multiple times to reinforce what they taught us.

The next advantage of digital learning is the ability to analyze and gain information from the vast data that is being generated about how people actually learn best.  A systematic, data-driven approach to analyze the way we learn will provide us testable conclusions that could improve teaching methods and strategies for both online and in-person instruction.

With all of these benefits mentioned above, we also need to discuss the major drawback of digital learning-the ability to have face-to-face interaction. Judgement, confidence, humility and skill in negotiation that come from hands-on problem solving and teamwork; the perseverance, analytical skill and initiatives that grow from conducting frontline lab research; the skill in writing and public speaking that comes from exploring ideas with mentors and peers; the ethics and values that emerge through being apprenticed to a master in your field and living as a member of a campus community.

However, online learning may indirectly provide these benefits. The online courses will allow more time to focus on education; detailed discussions; personal mentorship, and project-based learning. It becomes more of a blended model as online tools are used more strategically. Students could, in the future, be able to complete their first year of college online, thus reducing their costs of education. Or, in their junior year, work in their field of interest while attending their courses online. MIT has around 200 lecture halls. With online learning, the need to increase the number of physical spaces (or reduce this space and use it for other academic purposes) could vastly change by the year 2025.

We need to capitalize on the strengths of online learning, make it more accessible, more effective and more affordable for the human race than every before.

Tomorrow: Alberto Cairo’s MOOC Course and my review of one of the graphs used in the Time Magazine report.

How We Learn, Online Education and MOOCs, Time Magazine Graph Critique – Part 1

Time MagazineOn my trip home to Arizona from Paris yesterday, I read the Special College Report article in the current issue of Time Magazine (October 7, 2013). It is titled Class of 2025 How They’ll Learn and What They’ll Pay.

I am always interested in they ways different groups (i.e., Government, educators, parents, etc.) perceive what the best way to learn is. Time Magazine points out in their article that 36% of college graduates in a 2011 study did not show any significant cognitive gains over the four years they spent in college. I ask myself, how can this be?

Time goes on to discuss the debates going on over traditional education with a core curriculum and other academics who would rather have students attend a more specialized set of courses that allows them to set their curriculum. It seems, however, that all parties involved are most concerned with students having the skills to do critical thinking upon graduation which will make them more successful in the work force.

Drawing myself into this discussion, I draw on two personal experiences I had during my life-long learning adventures.

The first was when I was at Texas A&M University during the early 1980s working on my undergraduate degree. I had dropped out of college in 1978 after two years to work as a computer programmer. I was restless in college and not very attentive. I loved my computer programming classes and an opportunity presented itself for me to get a real job with real money.

I worked for 5 years as a COBOL programmer when I began to realize that a degree would be important as the Computer Science field became more formalized and education, more specifically a degree in Computer Science, would help determine what types of opportunities would avail themselves to you in the future.

I chose Texas A&M University for its family like atmosphere and my initial discussions with my department before I decided on a school. I also was able to find full-time employment as a computer programmer in College Station which made the choice a lot easier. My boss was also willing to let me take classes during the day and shuffle my work schedule accordingly.

I decided to work on a History degree with a minor in Computer Science. I always loved history and felt the ability to write and put your thoughts on paper would be highly beneficial to a person in computer science (later, I would realize how correct I was in this decision).

The course I want to focus on was a History of Napoleon class I took from the late Shirley Black. Dr. Black provided great narratives of Napoleon’s time in power using great story telling. She seldom focused on a date unless it was highly significant like the Russian Campaign of 1812. Her exams were always pen and paper with challenging questions like “Compare the reigns of Napoleon and Hitler and discuss their similarities, successes and failures.” Since Napoleon and Hitler both made the mistake of entering into Moscow with Winter coming where they would have to endure the cold, harsh winter months ahead, it was a oppportunity to discuss each of their military strategies in terms of this. Her exams usually were along these lines where she would offer us a couple of questions to choose from and address that question using pen and paper. Like it or not, she made us really think about the question; not some multiple choice questions about dates and fill in the blanks.

Rosetta_StoneAnother thing Dr. Black made us do was draw the map of Europe  and Africa and indicate key locations of events relating to Napoleon. She said to us, “If I teach you one thing before you graduate, it will be to know how to find the cities discussed in this class on a map of Europe.” For example, one key location was where Napoleon found the Rosetta Stone upon his entry into Northern Africa.

On Napoleon’s 1798 campaign in Egypt, the expeditionary army was accompanied by the Commission des Sciences et des Arts, a corps of 167 technical experts (savants). On July 15, 1799, as French soldiers under the command of Colonel d’Hautpoul were strengthening the defences of Fort Julien, a couple of miles north-east of the Egyptian port city of Rosetta (Modern day Rashid), Lieutenant Pierre-François Bouchard spotted a slab with inscriptions on one side that the soldiers had uncovered. He and d’Hautpoul saw at once that it might be important and informed general Jacques-François Menou, who happened to be at Rosetta. The find was announced to Napoleon’s newly founded scientific association in Cairo, the Institut d’Égypte, in a report by Commission member Michel Ange Lancret noting that it contained three inscriptions, the first in hieroglyphs and the third in Greek, and rightly suggesting that the three inscriptions would be versions of the same text. Lancret’s report, dated July 19, 1799, was read to a meeting of the Institute soon after July 25. Bouchard, meanwhile, transported the stone to Cairo for examination by scholars. Napoleon himself inspected what had already begun to be called la Pierre de Rosette, the Rosetta Stone, shortly before his return to France in August 1799.

I find some symmetry in the fact that I would revisit Napoleon again when I took Edward Tufte’s one-day class in 2005 where he discussed Minard’s map of Napoleon’s Russian Campaign of 1812. I already had an interest in this battle and Dr. Tufte exposed another layer, the data visualization flow map prepared by Minard, to my understanding.

Tomorrow: On-line Learning, MOOCs, and Alberto Cairo

Alberto Cairo Offers His Third ‘Introduction to Infographics and Visualization’ MOOC Class – REGISTER TODAY!

MOOC

[Click on image to watch Alberto Cairo's introduction to his latest MOOC class]

Alberto Cairo has announced that he will be teaching his third ‘Introduction to Infographics and Visualization’ Massive Open Online Course (MOOC), offered through the Knight Center for Journalism in the Americas, will begin October 6. It’ll be shorter than the two previous courses —four weeks, instead of six. Registration is free and space is limited to a few thousand people. The video above will give you an idea of what to expect.

According to Rosental Calmon Alves, the first edition was the first MOOC about journalism ever organized in the world. It was also an unexpected success: Mr. Cairo conceived it as a little experiment at first, hoping to attract just a few hundred people. He ended up with 2,000 in the first edition, and 5,000 in the second one, coming from more than 100 countries.

Mr. Cairo had also assumed that a course that focuses on how to communicate with charts, maps, and diagrams —and not so much on how to use them to analyze data— would appeal mainly to journalists and designers. This assumption was wrong. Students came from several scientific disciplines, statistics, cartography, education, business intelligence, etc. This variety of backgrounds —professional and cultural— enlivened the discussions a lot.

Here you have an excerpt from the introduction to the third edition:

“Previous experience in information graphics and visualization is not needed to take this course. With the readings, video lectures and tutorials available, participants will acquire enough skills to start producing compelling, simple infographics almost immediately. Participants can expect to spend 4-6 hours per week on the course. Although the MOOC was initially conceived with journalists and designers in mind, others are welcome as well and can benefit from the very practical skills that will be taught.”

You can also read some reviews of the previous courses: 1, 2, 3, 4. Mr. Cairo hopes that you will consider joining him, particularly if you didn’t participate on any of these courses before.

REGISTER HERE

MOOC Course Infographics: Teenage Pregnancy in England and Wales

Here is the fourth MOOC Infographic class final project from one of my classmates that I wanted to share with you. It was created by Soazig Clifton.

Soazig wanted me to point out that it is a ‘work in progress’ rather than a polished piece. Here is Soazig’s explanation of her project.

Here is my attempt at an online graphic on teenage pregnancy. I would welcome your feedback.

Please note I couldn’t figure out how to create the chloropleth map for local authority areas on the third page, so I took one already created by the UK Office for National Statistics, then added my own layer (the dots to indicate progress towards the Teenage Pregnancy Strategy).

Thanks for taking a look

Soazig

Teenage Pregnancy ijn Europe and Wales

[Click image to enlarge]

Teenage pregnancy

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