visualize it

Booker’s article used visuals to illustrate his arguments regarding the changes in land use in the San Francisco Bay. I think his attempts were partially successful. I should say at the outset that I am not really a visual learner and generally prefer to learn through text. That being said, I recognize the utility of visual tools and am well aware that many students are visual learners. Thus, it is pedagogically important to use appropriate visual tools.

Nonetheless, Booker’s article illustrates both the necessity of using visualizations well and just how difficult that can be. Several of his maps lacked keys and had a difficult to decipher graph at the bottom. I frequently come across poor graphics, even in well respected magazines. When it is done poorly, the utility of data visualization is undermined. Presenting complex data in visual form is difficult.

Can online and easily accesible data visualization tools help make this process easier? Maybe. I looked at visualizing.org and stat planet. I can imagine using both of them in undergraduate courses. Visuals like this one do a nice job of illustrating data that is relevant to what I teach.

I could imagine creating an assignment in which students created their own visual. I may include an option to create a visual in my planned women and politics digital project. In addition to visualizing.org, students could use something like stat planet to show the spatial dimension of data.

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