Teaching the basics of dataviz with Modular Information Design – a field report
For six years, Superdot has been successfully teaching in the Digital Ideation course at the Lucerne School of Art and Design. The module is called «Studio Information Esthetics» and lasts three weeks. The goal of the course is to go through the complete cycle of an information design project and create an innovative data visualization as a result.
This year, the «Modular Information Design» (MID) system developed by Superdot was used for the first time. This has led to improvements in speed and understanding of data visualization design. We were happy to have the class back on site after two years in a nice studio space atmosphere.
Superdot Teaching Method
How to teach the complex handling of data and the creation of innovative new diagram types? Nicole Lachenmeier and Darjan Hil have intensively studied the topic of complex data analysis and visualization. The teaching concept of Superdot is based on the methods of «Modular Information Design» and the associated data experience.
Students attend this course with no prior knowledge of data, data visualization or information design. Starting with inputs on the simple use of Excel and Tableau, the first data analyses are created. Here, however, it is especially important to gain a feel for the data set exploratively, but to break away from the tool and develop their own ideas on paper. Instead of providing students with rules, templates, and copying instructions, as is common at many universities, our teaching method encourages them to find their own creative language in the context of given data.
Through short inputs and intermediate presentations in the studio, the own assessment skills are trained and also important topics such as data literacy and graph literacy are discussed. Knowledge of the interrelationships between the individual parameters of a data visualization is personally tested with the 80 elements of «Modular Information Design». The aim is to systematically test the limits of readability in an experimental framework, to fail sometimes and to derive new creative paths from this. In this context, the spatial situation of the studio provides valuable services, because the group dynamic on site is particularly important for this form of learning and can take place very difficult online.
Visualizing the Sustainable Development Goals
This year at Digital Ideation, we at Superdot once again worked with the United Nations dataset on the Sustainable Development Goals. The 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development was adopted by the United Nations in September 2015 and covers a wide range of topics from marine biology to waste generation to access to education. Statistical data is a key element in the review of the 17 Sustainable Development Goals.
The UN database is large and has tables where data is missing for certain countries or years. A realistic practice case for students to see that the data base is never perfect and that solution strategies need to be found for this in visualization projects. After a thorough screening of the data, students decide which topic they want to work on and which strategy they will take for the data.
Dataviz posters extended with animation and augmented reality
The following pictures show the results of the Generation Information Esthetics 2022. All students successfully passed the module and could present their poster on the last day. In addition to the process and the final poster, experiments with a second medium were presented. Thereby the students could choose between animation or augmented reality. The pictures below show the final state of the posters on the presentation day at the end of the nine-day course.