You’ve Collected the Data – Now What?


Data is useless unless it provides us with actionable insights into our work. In order to make sense of the data, however, we need to understand it, which is why data visualization is so important. Technology has made it easier to translate data into understandable and aesthetically pleasing visualizations, but with so many options out there, it can be hard to know where to begin and how to properly take advantage of and utilize those options. That is why we offered our first course on Technology for Data Visualization in June.

95 participants from 19 countries joined us for the four-week online course. We take a look at some of the highlights from the course:

Exposure to data viz tech tools and enthusiasts: Our participants were introduced to more than a dozen different types of data visualization dissemination formats in the course. They shared the context of their work and data visualization needs with each other. Through discussions on the platform with their fellow peers as well as our facilitators, the participants were able to decide which tool was the most appropriate for them in order to create the most logical aesthetical presentations for the data and audience at hand.

Access to data visualization experts: The course facilitators, Norman Shamas and Ann K. Emery arranged for a great line-up of guest experts. Guest experts included Tony Fujs of the Latin American Youth Center, Noah Illinsky of Amazon Web Services, Brittany Fong, and others. With access to a great panel of speakers, the participants were able to ask questions and interact with them during our live events as well as connect with them outside of the course. The guest expert sessions also exposed students to new methods of presenting data that would change the way they conceptualized the ability to create and display visual analytics.

Beautiful data visualizations: Our participants complete our courses with a final project and it’s always a great way to see what they learned from our course. Some course participants used data visualizations to complement a report on community feedback related to the humanitarian response after the Nepal earthquakes in April. Another participant created a visual report to summarize the performance of her company’s project in Haiti for the past two years. One participant also achieved her goal of mapping the Washington, DC Craft Brewery density!

Each individual chose a different software and adapted it to their specific needs and target audience, illustrating our participants’ access to a wide range of tools, as well as their grasp of the process of deciding when one tool/dissemination format is more appropriate than another. Keep an eye on our blog for when we feature some of our participant’s final projects!

Here is what some of the participants had to say:

Christina Gorga

“It’s a superb introduction to all things data visualization with a focus on getting the most out of your data to create a specific story. It’s not just about creating pretty things, but rather focusing on the best methods to visualize the results in an effective manner.” – Christina Gorga, Westat

Joseph Sylvain

“You don’t need to be an expert in statistics or in IT to be able to understand what is taught. I learnt a lot in a very short time and I feel now empowered to better do my job as M&E advisor. I’m now able to better visualize/present data to my supervisors to help them make evidence-based decisions.” – Joseph Sylvain Kouakou, Centers for Diseases Control and Prevention (CDC) Cote d’Ivoire

We are offering the second iteration of the course again! The course will run from November 23 to December 18, 2015. Over 110 students from 27 countries have already enrolled representing organizations like DAI, FHI360, The Red Cross, IOM, John Hopkins University, University of Florida, University of Colorado School of Medicine, USAID, World Bank Group, World Vision and more!

Come join our growing online community for a chance to meet and learn with fellow peers from around the world who are passionate about technology for data visualization. The course begins on November 23, so register now to secure your spot!

Featured image: Nic McPhee Flickr (Creative Commons License) 

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