Dynamic Visualization 2 – 2008-2017 – MediaLab@TAIK & AALTO

In 2008 I began teaching again at TAIK, now Aalto University and this time the course Dynamic Visualization 2. The course consists of 2 parts:

  1. Dynamic Visualization 1 (from September till December)
  2. Dynamic Visualization 2  (from January till May/June)

This course I taught together with Markku Reunanen (senior lecturer) and my input was more or less focused and the practical dimension. Not saying Markku is not a practical person, he is, but where he is strong on the academic side of things I have loads of experiences with industry and government.

The course deals primarily with transforming data into a product or service. During that process the students need to understand a lot of things regarding data, design and often programming. DVD2 was a heavy course but for many people it has been a rewarding experience.

During the 9 years we have been teaching this course we tried many different structures for the course. We tried to divide the course into 3 parts:

  1. analysis and understanding the data
  2. creating a concept and design
  3. building it with software

In theory different types of people could excel in one of more of those segments and we could better judge their work.

We tried a more atomized approach where each topic was part of the larger whole and judged at the end.

We tried a jazzy way of doing things and let things evolve…

I can’t remember what we tried but each time the outcome was pretty much the same. There was:

  • waiting for the data to arrive from 3rd parties, we stopped collaborating with 3rd parties partially because of this
  • people could not make up their minds on what to do as their understanding of what the data meant changed overtime. This is a good thing in a way but it is hard to plan for
  • groups fell apart and interpersonal dealings
  • too much focus on the building and too early without knowing what to build

These and more experiences taught us that we cannot plan and expect that people follow that plan. The plan is an outline of what topics we should work with and what the students need to thoroughly understand. A fascinating outcome was that scenario writing turned out to be really useful. We often went back to the scenario and compared the current stage with the scenario and if we were still on track.

Dynamic Visualization 1 is more about theory and Dynamic Visualization 2 is the hands-on part. A condensed online outline can be found here and a backup copy can be found here.