Data Visualizations


Data visualizations are useful for when an instructor has some information they would like presented in an engaging, interactive manner. This data can come from textbooks, studies, and from existing non-interactive graphs and charts.

Additionally, the source of the information can be a student (individual or group) activity which can be used as an assignment or in the context of a discussion.

How to use in a course

Assignment #1: Research and discussion

Data visualizations are often implemented in two phases.

The first phase is to create a deadline for students to research and enter information into the application form.

The application can be empty, until everyone participates, so it is most useful to the whole class if you can bring them back to the application later.

The second phase is usually a Canvas discussion, in which students are required to visit the application and compare and analyze the data that has been entered by the class.

Assignment #2: Weekly Prompts

In this implementation, the form is separated into different parts. Each intended to be filled out at different points in the course (weekly, biweekly, etc). This encourages the students to come back to the exercise multiple times throughout the course, leveraging it several times for discussion or research tasks rather than just once.

Usually the different prompts are about different topics of a country. One week might be education, the next is health and human services, the next is poverty.

As an instructor…

How much time will be required from me?

The multimedia team will invite you to a project intake meeting, usually with your instructional designer as well. This meeting will usually take about 30 minutes to do some basic project introduction, brainstorming and discussion.
Estimate 30 minutes per project.

During the intake meeting, most of the decisions around configuration are determined. After that meeting, we invite the instructor to think about what questions they want on the form in the activity.
Estimate about 15 – 30 minutes.

During the development period of your activity you’ll receive periodic updates from the development team. You should expect to spend some time with each update to check the content and functionality of the exercise to make sure it meets your expectation.
Estimate about 15 minutes per review, about 1 hour total.

What do I need to provide?

  1. Would you like a World Map or USA Map?
  2. Are any countries/states specifically excluded or included?
  3. Do students reserve a single country/state?
  4. Are there specific instructions or web sites the students should visit?
  5. The form fields:
    – What is the field name?
    – What type of field is this? (a number, a year, a dropdown/list, an image, or an open text response?
    – Are there minimum or maximum word count for this field?
  6. Is there any portion of the form that should be submitted by the student, but hidden from other students (usually this is done for extra notes or citations to the instructor for grading purposes).

What is the development timeline?

Content due.
Ideally, within 2-4 weeks of our project intake meeting you can provide answers to the above questions.

Ideally, within 2-4 weeks of our project intake meeting you can provide answers to the above questions.

At the latest, we need them 2 months prior to the start of the term (by Feb 1, for an S20 course).

You should receive at least two development updates from the multimedia team during the development period (usually at the end of the week, and always with a link to the current working version of your interactive).

Final delivery.
Your project will be completed roughly 2 weeks prior to the start of the term, and implemented by your instructional designer.

Examples from live courses

KIN 312 – World Map

  • Limited to countries participating in a specific event
  • Different Heat-map visualizations based on prompts
  • Compare country to country

KIN 312 – USA Map

  • Students research information from CDC web site
  • Different Heat-map visualizations based on prompts
  • Compare state to state

ENSC 555

  • Students don’t reserve countries.
  • Students create a recipe, associated with a country.
  • Recipes from multiple students can be associated with the same country.

HDFS 447

  • Students join a group, which reserves a region. Determining which groups are open for new students is managed automatically, to ensure an even spread between all regions.
  • Within the region, each student reserves a single country.
  • Comparisons are made are different granularities, region to region and country to country for discussion purposes.
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