Making data beautiful: Data visualisation

I’m currently creating and teaching a brand new unit in S4 which combines Intermediate 1 Information & The Internet and Intermediate 2 Database Systems. The reason I am doing this is because an ex-colleague and I decided to align two separate courses (I’ve now managed to align access 3 to our grand plan too, but that took all of 20 minutes) to make computing as relevant as possible and to allow space in the curriculum for lots of active learning. I’m sure that it is not going to be perfect first time around but the planning makes more sense and should allow the classes to be split on activity without feeling they are tackling different units (as they were last year!)

I’m currently rewriting the section on database form creation and reporting and just by chance saw a link to David McCandless’ TED talk on the Twitter main page yesterday morning. David is a journalist and information analyst who creates striking visualisations of contrasting data sets, for example this one comparing the amount of CO2 generated by the Icelandic volcano earlier this year against the amount of CO2 that would have been generated by the grounded airplanes.

Simple but effective and it inspired me to use data visualisation as the focus for report creation rather than the staid drill and practice generation of Access reports. These pupils have previously studied multimedia and the design methodology associated- I had already planned to echo this in the lessons on database form creation – but now my mind is racing with ideas for more local examples following David McCandless’ style of presentation. It could also be used in conjunction with a lesson on the freedom of information act with Higher Information Systems pupils to pull relevant, challenging data sets for visualisation. I am excited by the possibilities this field has to offer and hope that, after watching David’s TED talk embedded below, you will too.

[ted id=937]



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