A couple of days ago, I had a very pleasant conversation with Brian Bedrick whose Charlotte NC based Interactive Data Partners turns massive amounts of data into visualizations, particularly in education. They take all sorts of metrics, e.g., on educational outcomes, and make them instantly obvious through visualizations. Those kinds of things are important to administrators, but there are other potential uses. For example, instead of giving a student a single grade, the work can be divided into several categories and visualization can immediately show in which areas does a student show strengths and in which there is a need for more work – very useful information for the teacher, but also for the students and parents. Finally, this kind of presentation of the data, if informed by research on what works and what does not in education, can be used to persuade parents, community, school boards and legislatures to pursue effective educational strategies and abandon those that may sound great in campaign sound-bytes but are proven not to work in practice.
What Brian really wants – apart from the obvious: getting more work to do for schools and school systems – is feedback. What kinds of visualizations work? Why? What are the minefields to avoid?
So look at their samples on the website and hit “Contact Us” is you have ideas.