Designing interactive data visualizations for learning (by Katie Stofer and Lisa Anthony)

Last week, Katie Stofer and Lisa Anthony from the University of Florida spent a week in residence at Hatfield Marine Science Center as part of the Cyberscholars program. Here is their account of their week:

We are interested in investigating how people learn science in informal settings such as the science center, in this case, specifically through interactions with visualizations of global ocean data. During the week in residence, we observed users interacting with exhibits on an Ideum multi-touch table, the same multi-touch screen mounted on the wall, and a traditional touch screen kiosk that controls a 3-foot spherical Magic Planet display. We also conducted semistructured interviews with visitors to understand how the exhibits were working for them or falling short and how the exhibits could be improved. Lisa got acquainted with the Cyberlab setup at HMSC, including the camera system and its synchronized audio stream, and Katie got re-acquainted — she actually worked on the installation of the system as a graduate student. Jenny had created a custom view of the eight cameras focusing on the exhibits of interest. In all, we collected roughly 50 visitor observations and around 20 interviews, and we also created workable prototype exhibits to continue collecting data once we leave to supplement and compare with the in-person data we collected.

Our collaboration combines the traditions of informal science learning with human-computer interaction to investigate the whole exhibit experience from the touch interaction to the resulting meaning-making. After returning home to Florida, we will continue remote observations of the exhibits to analyze more patterns of use by a broader cross-section of users. Ultimately we may design new programs for these exhibits to harness the power of touch interaction to invite users to deeply investigate the patterns in these visualizations, while presenting the visualizations in forms that we know best facilitate meaning-making by many users.

Lisa is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Computer & Information Science & Engineering (CISE) at UF, and works on human-computer interaction questions of natural input modalities (e.,g., touch, gesture, and speech) for kids and learning. She is interested in designing for exhibits at HMSC because interfaces in public settings need to be very robust and intelligent to be able to handle the diverse visitors who may be using them. Information seeking, navigation, and understanding can be either enabled or challenged depending on the efficacy of the interaction. Lisa earned her PhD from Carnegie Mellon in Human Computer Interaction in 2008.

Katie is now Research Assistant Professor of STEM Education and Outreach at the University of Florida in the Department of Agricultural Education and Communication, after earning her PhD as part of the Free-Choice Learning Lab at Oregon State University in 2013. She wants to help publics gather, make sense of, and use the results of current research for decision-making at personal, societal, and global levels through public engagement with science. In particular, visualizations of data can harness the powerful human visual system if designed to make use of, rather than compete with, perceptual and cultural systems. Katie is also interested in agriculture as a context for engaging with many contemporary science and engineering issues.


More on Make from the land of technology education

ISTE2014 has ended, and I am back home and reflecting on what this experience meant to me. This was by far the largest conference I have attended- at over 16,000, it is probably four times bigger than what I usually consider a crowd! Getting to guest blog for the conference was a great boost to my ego, and I was tweeting out regularly from talks and other events I attended- and I think I might have doubled the number of followers I have on Twitter! Just seeing the email that was sent out to tens of thousands of ISTE members before the conference, with the list of guest bloggers, with my name on it, was a rush! One of the highlights of the event was getting to chat with Dale Doughtery, one of the co-founders of Make, and the main face of MakerFaire and MakerEd. I have introduced myself to him before, but this time I could talk to him about my research and thoughts on this movement with a lot more confidence. I even broke down and did the fan-girl thing and took a Picsie/Pixie (Susan, Michelle, and I are still figuring out the spelling- it is our word for a selfie with multiple people in it) with him. I am including the link for the second blog I wrote for ISTE since the topic is relevant here too! Enjoy!

http://blog.iste.org/making-mobile-learning-playground