IEEE Visualization 2006 Workshop
for Non-Technical Majors:
Post Workshop Materials
This workshop was held:
Sunday October 29, 2006, 1:30-5:15 pm
At the IEEE Visualization 2006 Conference, Hyatt Regency
Informal documents used to start discussion:
Additional Article Distributed:
Because attendance was higher than anticipated (34+),?discussion was not as focused as originally envisioned.?Below is a short summary, followed by a pointer to resources that were mentioned. This summary is open to change, and criticisms, updates and comments are welcome!! Using the informal notes above, and this summary, a short white paper is being developed on this topic.
A wide range of courses are being taught and/or developed on the topic of visualization and directed at students who are not majoring in the sciences or engineering. The types of courses include:
-- introductory freshman (first year) courses on general principles and methods of visualization, including both scientific and information visualization.?These courses aren’t directed at a particular domain, and the students have not encountered specific problems that they want to solve using visualization. Students may be from the humanities, but applying visualization to the humanities is not necessarily the topic of the course.
-- upper level/graduate courses aimed at disciplines such as geography or library science including primarily information visualization. Students have encountered problems in their domain of study, and can define visualization projects in this domain.
-- upper level/graduate courses aimed at students in art and design. Students have visual training, and the challenge is education on the technical side of visualization systems.
-- upper level/graduate courses including both computer science and students from other areas such as art, design or media studies. A core set of ideas are taught to all, and then detailed projects and study are defined differently for the two types of students. The two groups of students interact on projects
-- upper level/graduate courses in business, where visual communication is an important skill.
In addition to level and focus, courses vary in size. Ideas that work well with less than ten people (such as individualized critique sessions) aren’t possible with groups of more than thirty.
Ideas about what should/could be included in a course include:
-- not just technical education, but visual education from art. Ideas include observing composition in photography and including some history of art, ideally with a colleague from art or art history who can present these topics.
-- not just mastering a set of concepts, but acquiring skills. Students should learn by doing, either using one tool, or a variety of tools depending on the focus of the course.
-- using the idea of critiques from art and design. On one hand, having the students apply concepts by critiquing visualizations and providing justifications for the judgments they express. On the other hand, the students should develop a portfolio of their own visualizations that will be assessed by a critique by the instructor.
-- learning to develop and revise a visualization the way writing a section of text is revised.
Shared needs for many courses:
-- recommendations for textbooks and readings.
-- exercises for homeworks and exams – a problem with this being restricting access to these so that they can be used in class without students looking up the answers on line.
-- case studies for lecture examples and project definitions.
-- software for various types of visualization, ideally freeware.
-- a place to register requests for software to use in class.
-- some guide to how others have used resources, and with what success rather than just lists
-- a stable repository, not just a list of web links that may turn out to be dead when a course is taught.
Quite a number of resources were mentioned during the workshop. Here is a somewhat organized list.
Some of the links on this list are extensive list themselves. Rather than maintain yet another list, as suggested in the workshop one step in moving forward could be maintaining commentary on how various resources have been used.
Original Workshop Description
If you are interested in participating, send email to holly at acm.org.
You do not need to prepare any formal document to participate in this workshop. You do not have to have previous experience teaching non-technical majors. All that is required is interest in this topic. If you would like to present material at the workshop, or have specific questions you would like to have raised, please send these along a week before the workshop.
Goal: In this workshop we will examine the need for education in visualization for students who major in disciplines outside of science and engineering. The questions to be answered are “What do non-technical students need to know about visualization?” and “Are new visualization courses or resources needed to serve students in non-technical majors?”
Participants: This workshop is intended for educators, students, and practitioners. Participants may be from either technical or non-technical backgrounds. Those who are interested in participating should submit a short (one page or less) statement on this topic. The statements may take variety of forms ranging from a position statement to a list of questions and concerns. Examples of issues that statements may address: What should be taught? What would you like people you hire to know? What do you wish someone had taught you? What resources would you like to have? What resources do you have to offer? The statement may also propose a short presentation (10 minutes or less) on the participant’s experiences in the area of visualization education or in using visualization in practice. More details on potential topics are given below.
Planned Activities: The workshop participants will discuss a list of questions distilled from contributed statements and the information listed in section 2. Time will also be allotted for any proposed presentations, and discussion of the presentations. The moderator will facilitate discussion and limit time spent so that a variety of questions can be considered. For each discussion question a different participant will act as scribe to collect a summary for the final white paper.
Output: The immediate result of the workshop will be a white paper on recommendations for visualization education for non-technical majors. We will seek to have the white paper published in a forum such as IEEE Computer Graphics and Applications or ACM Computer Graphics Quarterly. At a minimum the report will be made publicly accessible as a Yale technical report coauthored by the workshop participants. As a longer term result, a panel following up the white paper will be proposed for IEEE Visualization 2007. If recommended as a result of the workshop, we will also seek to develop a dedicated repository of resources for visualization education.
Visualization is used in essentially every discipline, ranging from biology to history. Visualization is used in the popular media in news stories and documentaries. People are presented visualizations of medical and financial data to use to make personal decisions. Government officials with backgrounds in areas such as law and city planning increasingly make decisions based on information presented in visual form. This workshop considers the need for college level education for non-technical majors is in visualization.
A student with a general education should be able to judge the validity of a visual representation. Is an illustration accurate, or has it been manipulated to mislead? They should be able to produce meaningful visual representations of data and concepts. With common programs like Excel producing charts with “wizards” and the use of digital cameras with photo-editing software, a large and diverse population will have access to tools for producing visual material.
Unlike existing courses in visualization for computer science and engineering majors, non-technical majors probably don’t need to know how to implement marching cubes or ray casting through volumetric data. What visualization education for non-technical majors is needed? What form should it take? What resources are needed?
Specific items to consider include:
Visualization can be presented to non-technical majors in a variety of ways:
- A “stand alone” visualization course for non-technical majors. An additional question for such a course is whether data visualization, realistic rendering, image processing and illustration can or should all be covered in one course.
- Visualization may be incorporated into various domain specific courses. For example, archaeology might focus on GIS, and literature on text visualization.
- Visualization may be part of a more general “computer literacy” course for non-technical majors. Such a course would include topics such as algorithms, complexity and software engineering as well as visualization.
What types of content should be included?
- Is a study of Tufte’s books and principles enough?
- Do non-technical majors need to learn some programming and scripting?
- What basic principles of perception should be taught?
Student Activities and Exercises:
What should students be assigned to gain a mastery of concepts in visualization?
- What software packages should students learn to use to build visualizations? What is available as freeware?
- What are good sources of data and examples to be used in class homework assignments?
- What would sample exam questions look like?
- Are essays and reports about visualization in practice appropriate?
- Do we need a dedicated repository of resources?
What texts and/or readings should be included? Possibilities include:
- Edward Tufte, The Visual Display of Quantitative Information, Graphics Press, 2001.
- Edward Tufte, Envisioning Information, Graphics Press, 1990.
- Colin Ware, Information Visualization: Perception for Design, Morgan Kaufmann, 2004.
- David Staley, Computers, Visualization and History: How New Technology Will Transform Our Understanding of the Past, M.E. Sharpe, 2003.
- A collection of?“Applications” department columns from IEEE Computer Graphics and Applications.