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Self-Directed Course

Data Visualization for Storytelling and Discovery

June 11 to July 8, 2018
Instructor(s):   Alberto Cairo
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This resource page features course content from the Knight Center for Journalism in the America's massive open online course (MOOC), titled "Data Visualization for Storytelling and Discovery." The four-week course, which was powered by Google, took place from June 11 to July 8, 2018. We are now making the content free and available to students who took the course and anyone else who is interested in learning how to create data visualizations to improve their reporting and storytelling.

The course was taught by Alberto Cairo, He created and curated the content for the course, which includes video classes and tutorials, readings, exercises, and more.

 The course materials are broken up into four modules:

  • Module 1: Offers an introduction to visualization: what it is, how it works, and what ethical considerations are involved in its design. It also reviews how to prepare data before visualizing it.
  • Module 2: Covers how visualization can be used to explore and discover features that often hide behind data. The video tutorials will show you how to use software tools to import a data set and then visualize it in multiple ways to reveal patterns and exceptions to those patterns.
  • Module 3: Explains how visualization can be used to communicate with the public. The video tutorials show how to use the Google tool Flourish to design static and interactive maps and charts, and then put them together in sequential narratives.
  • Module 4: Provides you with an exercise that will motivate you to apply what you learned from the course materials. Specifically, you’ll be asked to design a visualization based on a topic and datasets of your choice.

As you review this resource page, we encourage you to watch the videos, read the readings, and complete the exercises as time allows. The course materials build off each other, but the videos and readings also act as standalone resources that you can return to over time.

We hope you enjoy the materials and share them with others who are interested in learning more about how to use data visualizations to improve reporting and storytelling. We also encourage you to visit the Google News Initiative’s training site for journalists -- training center. If you have any questions or comments, please feel free to email us at journalismcourses@austin.utexas.edu.

About the Instructor

Alberto CairoAlberto Cairo is the Knight Chair in Visual Journalism at the University of Miami. He’s also the director of the visualization program at UM’s Center for Computational Science. Cairo has been a director of infographics and multimedia at news publications in Spain (El Mundo, 2000-2005) and Brazil (Editora Globo, 2010-2012,) and a professor at the University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill. Besides teaching at UM, he works as a freelancer and permanent consultant for companies like Google. He’s the author of the books The Functional Art: An Introduction to Information Graphics and Visualization (2012) and The Truthful Art: Data, Charts, and Maps for Communication.

Introduction to Visualization Principles

 Goals

This module offers an introduction to visualization, what it is, how it works, and what ethical considerations are involved in its design. It also teaches how to prepare data before visualizing it, which will be covered in module 2.

 Module 1 will cover

  • What data visualization is
  • How visualization may mislead, and how it can tell the truth
  • Data preparation

 Videos

1. Introduction: What Visualization Is

Watch Video Slides

2. Elements of Visualization

Watch Video Slides

3. Identifying Encodings

Watch Video Slides

4. The Core Principles

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5. What Comes Next

Watch Video Slides    

 Video Transcripts

Download 

 Software Videos

1. Data Cleaning with Excel

Watch Video

2. Excel Pivot Tables

Watch Video 1 Watch Video 2

 Introduction to Data Wrangler

1. Introduction

Watch Video

2. Wide To Long

Watch Video

3. Cleaning the Data File

Watch Video

4. Adding Header in Wrangler

Watch Video

5. Wrangling

Watch Video

6. Final Thoughts

Watch Video

 Files for Wrangler Videos

Download

 Readings

1. The Truthful Art, Introduction [Alberto Cairo]

2. The Truthful Art, Chapter 3 [Alberto Cairo]

3. Data Visualization for Human Perception [Data Visualization for Human Perception]

4. Misleading Visuals [Alberto Cairo]

5. Tidy Data [Journal of Statistical Software]

6. Shaping Data with Wrangler [Tableau Public]

 

Visualization to Find Stories in Data

 Goals

This module covers how visualization can be used to explore and discover features that often hide behind data. The materials will show you how to use software tools that will allow you to import a data set and then visualize it in multiple ways to reveal patterns and exceptions to those patterns.

 Module 2 will cover

  • INZight for data exploration
  • Schools in Miami-Dade County
  • Using histograms and seeing summary statistics
  • Scatter plots. Trends and outliers
  • Using maps

 Videos

1. Introduction

Watch Video

2. Visualization for Discovery

Watch Video Slides

3. Exploring The Data

Watch Video Slides

4. Finding Compelling Data

Watch Video Slides

5. Making maps with iNZight

Watch Video

 Video Transcripts

Download

 INZight Videos

1. Introduction to iNZight

Watch Video

2. iNZight and Loading Data

Watch Video

3. Summary Statistics

Watch Video

4. Reading Histograms and Box Plots

Watch Video

5. Comparing Distributions and Exporting Files

Watch Video

6. Comparing Summary for Subsets and Scatter Plots

Watch Video

7. Coloring by Variable

Watch Video

8. Exploring Correlations

Watch Video

9. Rough Maps with INZight

Watch Video

10. Reminder of Desktop Features

Watch Video

11. Exploring by Sorting Data

Watch Video

12. Creating New Variables

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13. Exporting Dataset

Watch Video

14. INZight and Gapminder

Watch Video

 Files for INZight Videos

Download 

 Readings

1.  The Truthful Art, Chapter 6URL [John W. Tukey]

2. An Economist Guide to Visualizing Data  [Journal of Economic Perspectives]

3. Visual Encoding [Visual Encoding]

 Exercise

Look for an interesting data set in public sources (https://data.worldbank.org/) or any other public source for global, national, or local data), explore it, and write down what interesting features you've find in it. Remember that visualization never gives you answers, but it can suggest what leads to follow, by revealing compelling facts hidden in the data.

Visualization for Communication

 Goals

This module explains how visualization can be used to communicate with the public. The video classes will show you how to use a Google tool called Flourish, to design static and interactive maps and charts, and then put them together in sequential narratives.

 Module 3 will cover

  • How to choose graphic forms for your data
  • Stories with charts and maps
  • Visual design for communication
  • Software tools: an introduction to this week’s practical videos

 Videos

1. Choosing Encoding

Watch Video Slides

2. The Encoding Hierarchy

Watch Video Slides

3. Design for Understanding

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4. Words

Watch Video Slides

 Video Transcripts

Download 

 Readings

1. The Truthful Art, Chapter 5 [William Playfair]

2. The visual vocabulary [ft.com]

3. What to consider when creating maps [Chartable]

4. Your Friendly Guide to Colors in Data Visualization [Lisa Charlotte Rost]

5. Finding the Right Color Palettes for Data Visualizations [Graphiq]

 

 Flourish Videos

1. Introduction to Flourish

Watch Video
2. Overview and Templates

Watch Video
3. Basic World Map

Watch Video
4. Adding More Maps and Interaction

Watch Video
5. Animated Scatter Plot

Watch Video
6. Facet and Stories

Watch Video
7. County Level Bubble Map

Watch Video
8. Preparing Data Before Uploading

Watch Video
9. Diverging Map

Watch Video
10. More Maps and Plots

Watch Video
11. Story and End

Watch Video

 Files for Flourish Videos

Download 

 Exercise

1. Take the U.S county data set used in the Flourish tutorials and see whether you can design a compelling visualization (or a series of visualizations, forming a story) based on the data. For instance:

  • Is there a relationship between poverty and obesity? Or between poverty and other variables?
  • Are the results of the 2016 presidential elections related to other variables?
  • Is the percentage of minority population in a county related to voting patterns?
  • You can also focus on a specific state.

2. To design this project you may need to do more than merely visualize data. Try to find papers or articles that may help you make your visual story more solid.

3. You are not limited to the data file I used in the tutorial. You can look for complementary datasets if you need to.

Where to Go from Here

 Goals

This module is focused on designing a visualization based on a topic and data sets of your choice.

 Module 4 will cover

  • What you’ve learned from the course materials and what other resources you can consult to keep learning about visualization.
  • Live Hangout: An Interview with Google News Lab’s Simon Rogers. 
  • Watch Video 

 Videos

1. Books

Watch Video Slides

2. Resources

Watch Video Slides

3. Data Visualization for Storytelling and Discovery: Final Thoughts

Watch Video

 Video Transcripts

Download

 Exercise

Design a personal visualization. Choose any topic, choose a data set, and build a visualization based on it. We can give students ideas ("Does economic growth lead to more CO2 emissions?”) but this should largely be their personal exercise.