Category Archives: Syllabi

Information Visualization: Spring 2014

Course description & overview
Over the course of the semester, students will develop the critical capacity to assess and develop accurate, engaging information visualizations for journalism. In addition to readings about the art and science of information visualization, students will complete a series of critiques of published graphics, in the form of rationalized redesigns of the original work. For these assignments, students will be given a range of acceptable media (physical or digital) in which their solution may be executed; each revision will also be accompanied by a written justification of the design choices it includes. Weekly readings should be summarized either in paragraph or bullet-point form; these summaries are due in aggregate at the end of the semester, though students are expected to complete the readings in advance of the class session for which they have been assigned. Students will also have weekly individual programming assignments and a group final project which will be reviewed in an industry critique at the end of the semester.

Weekly class sessions will be held on Tuesday and Wednesday mornings. Students are expected to arrive promptly for all class meetings and trainings, and will be graded on both their attendance and participation. Students are encouraged to engage their prior knowledge and experience in all aspects of the class, including readings summaries and critiques, as well as in-class and online discussions. Students must complete all readings summaries, programming and design assignments, as well as their final project, in order to pass the class.


Week 1
Lab
Introductions, expectations and class overview, the purpose of programming.
Installing & configuring Aptana Studio 3, FileZilla, introduction to github
Publishing your first webpage to your CUIT server space; overview of webpage structure.
Videos: HTML Basics
Readings due:

Seminar
Visualization as communication, visual shorthand.
First design assignment outlined.
“In the news/room” group problem-solving exercise.
Readings due:


Week 2
Lab
Programming basics and data format familiarity
Readings due: JSON, XML, Programming Parts of Speech
Videos: The browser console, data types, and getting started with GitHub
In-class resources: Unix & GitHub Quick Reference

Seminar
Visual understanding as science and influence. “In the news/room” group problem-solving exercise.
Readings due:

 


Week 3
Lab
More programming basics: functions, conditionals and loops.
Readings due: Understanding Functions, AJAX
Videos: Loops, conditionals and functions

Seminar
Visualization for inference & drawing conclusions from visual information: histograms, chloropleth maps.
Readings due:

 


Week 4
Lab
Basic HTML + CSS sizing and positioning; Bootstrap style framework.
Readings due: API, CSS
Videos:API data, jQuery, AJAX & divs

Seminar
Basic best practices in visualization for journalism
Readings due:

 


Week 5
Lab
Hitting the playground, getting to “ready” with the Google Charts API
Readings due: Google Line Chart documentation: Overview, Example, Loading
Videos:Page configuration & data formatting for Google Visualization; chart rendering.

Seminar
Principles of data journalism and information design
“In the news/room” group problem-solving exercise


Week 6
Lab
Using Google Fusion Tables as a data source
Readings due: Google Line Chart documentation: Configuration Options
Videos: Using Google Fusion Tables with SQL queries as a dynamic data source for Google Visualizations.

Seminar
In the newsroom
Readings due:

 


Week 7
Lab
Customizing interaction with annotations and rollovers
Readings due: KML
Videos: Mapping with Google Fusion Tables

Seminar
Lessons from professional practice
Readings due:

 


Spring break


Week 8
Lab
Basics of data analysis.
Readings due: mean, median, outlier, normal distribution, histogram
Videos: Data analysis essentials with spreadsheets and OpenRefine.

Seminar
Final project pitch discussions


Week 9
Lab
Basic page interactivity and layout with jQuery and CSS

Seminar
Designing the design process
Readings due:

 


Week 10
Lab
Responsive designs with Twitter Bootstrap

Seminar
Essentials of information layout and design.
Readings due:

  • Thinking With Type Ellen Lupton. Princeton Architectural Press, 2010.
    Letter: Anatomy, Size, Scale, Type Classification, Type Families, Superfamilies; Text: Tracking, Line Spacing, Alignment, Hierarchy; Grid: Grid as Program, Grid as Table, Multicolumn Grid, Modular Grid
  • Content-Out Layout by Nathan Ford. A List Apart, 2014.

 


Week 11
Lab
Optimizing code with the principles of DRY (“Don’t Repeat Yourself”) and “convention over configuration”. Using these to have data selections respond to user input.
Videos: Revising and editing your code for efficiency and modularity by applying conventions and the “DRY” (Don’t Repeat Yourself) principle. Adding responsiveness to user actions.

Seminar
Interaction and navigation, designing for users at different levels of experience
Readings due:

 


Week 12
Lab
Updating the URL for sharing user-selected content; adding annotations and customized tooltips.
Videos: “Stateful” URLs for sharing particular views of an interactive; adding annotations for context.
Seminar
Q&A with Lam Thuy Vo, Al Jazeera America
Lam Thuy Vo is a multi-platform reporter and editor currently leading Al Jazeera America’s interactive team where she produces and edits multi-platform stories. She started her journalism career at the Wall Street Journal as a videographer, spearheading the publication’s video operations in Asia, and has also worked as a producer and reporter for Planet Money, telling economic stories with charts, videos and other visuals.

Q&A with Rani Molla, WSJ Visual Journalist and CUJ ’12 graduate.


Week 13
Lab
Targeted final project assistance.

Seminar
Open work day


Week 14
Lab
Final project open lab

Seminar
Final project in-class critique, feedback from instructors and guests


Week 15
Lab
Final project open lab

Seminar
Final project presentations to industry; final project reflections due