November 03, 2007

OU Course Profiles Facebook App - Treemaps

One of the reasons I wanted to see an OU Facebook app based around self-reported course codes was that it would give me access to data that does exist within the OU, but that I wasnlt allowed to explore using visualisation tools such as Many Eyes...

I'm not sure where this could lead, but here are a few snapshots of Treemap visualisations generated by Many Eyes using some raw data (approx 700 users) from the Course Profiles app...

Firstly, a breakdown of self-reported course start dates by year (year 0 is undeclared). The larger blocks within each year correspond to the level of the courses. The atomic (smallest) squares correspond to the declaration of a particular course by a particular registered user of the application.

A view of courses by faculty...

Secondly, a zoomed in view of the Science Faculty courses - the dominant boxes within each course box correspond to the declared year of study.

Here is a view of courses that have been completed, are currently being studied, or are part of a users planned future study. The large inner groups within each period correspond to the level of course that has bee, is currenlty being, or will be studied.

A view of courses by course code, then year of study...

As well as Treemaps, the data representation used is also appropriate for generating certain classes of Matrix Chart. Here we see current/future/previously studied courses, organised by level. The size of each bubble is a count of the number of people who declared it; the colour segments are breakdowns by faculty.

This chart shows how the charts can be explored by highlighting levels of study, within a chart that depicts courses by Faculty and status (currently/previously and to be studied).

My feeling is that such displays offer at a glance views over large amounts of data that would allow curriculum planners in the first instance to phrase interesting questions about the data that could then be explored in more detail.

Of course, the same of data displayed above is based on a relatively tiny sample of OU students (700 or so) compared to the 120 thousand current students and over 2million alumni... which could generate a wonderful dataset to play with if they all joined facebook, added the Course Profiles app and let me aggregate their data... ;-)

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Posted by ajh59 at November 3, 2007 11:20 PM