Ed299 Education 299: Visualizations in Learning
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Human society has created extraordinarily diverse media for creating and sharing information. While text-based systems have had exceptional influence, this course is devoted to exploring the value of a diverse range of non-textual visualizations of concepts, models, and knowledge for the purposes of learning.

Visualization has been defined as "the use of computer-supported, interactive, visual representations of data to amplify cognition," but we will also examine how non-computational visualizations may support cognitive and communicative processes. What are some of the distinctive cognitive and social advantages of visual representations for learning? How are new computational systems for visualization transforming inquiry and communications in science, mathematics and other knowledge domains? What new forms of visual literacies and representational practices are emerging and what do we know about their challenges for learners?

We will consider theory and research literature encompassing visualizations such as 2-D images and 3-D models, diagrams, visualizations in science and social science, temporal visualizations such as animations and video, concept maps, tree-maps, and matrices. Subject areas for our consideration will span various sciences, mathematics, medicine, architecture, history, psychology, and teacher education. This course should be of interest for learning theorists, designers of instructional and interactive learning environments, and those concerned more broadly with augmenting human capabilities with information technologies.

Our work together will involve critical discussions of key readings on theory and research in visualization, and demonstrations and explorations of information visualization environments and tools useful for learning. After the first three orienting weeks, student groups will provide a series of short presentations and interactive activities that engage the core ideas of the readings. Students will also prepare an integrative final paper that is due on the final day of class, and a presentation of their final paper work. Here are some suggested topics for projects.

Class Meets: Thursdays 9-11:50am, in CERAS, Rm. 108.
3 Units.

Course Deliverables:

  • Weekly reaction papers to the readings (500 words total). Papers should focus on two of the papers in the reading list for that week. If it is a theory paper, write about how you think that theory could be applied. If it is a systems paper, write about how it relates to the theory we have read? Note that you have one free excuse for the quarter, i.e. you can skip the reaction papers once and your grade will not be affected. Late papers will not be accepted, since the point is for you to have thought about the readings before class.
  • In groups of two or three, prepare and deliver two class presentations during weeks 4-9.  Each presentation should be about 75 minutes (including about 30 minutes of lecture and 45 minutes of activities). Presenters should also prepare questions for the class discussion at the end of class.
  • Two short homeworks, due at the beginning of the third and fifth class sessions. The first is a visualization critique, and the second is a 2-3 page project proposal paper.
  • Final paper: 5-7 pages, on a topic of your choosing (with approval from me).
  • Final project presentation: about 15-20 minutes, on the last day of class (3/10).
Assessment will be based on class participation and the above deliverables. It will be possible to establish student teams to work collaboratively in creating the final presentation and paper. Required books are listed below; for more details, please visit the schedule page.

Required Course Materials:

  • Course Reader, comprised of selected preprints and articles, available for purchase the first day of class or ordered from Copy Source, (650) 968-6351, located at the intersection of Alma St. and Rengstorff in Mountain View.
  • Miscellaneous articles available online: These will be linked from the online version of the syllabus.

visualizations in learning, 2005