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25 March 2015 / erikduval

VISLA15 reflections…

Like Simon, I attended LAK15 last week in cold Poughkeepsie…

On Tuesday, we had our VISLA workshop on “VISual Approaches to Learning Analytics”. The workshop went really well, I think.

Attentive VISLA15 workshop audience ;-)

Attentive VISLA15 workshop audience

I had asked all presenters to spend one third of their time on presenting their own work, one third on comparing it with that of other presenters at the workshop and one third on discussion with the audience. For me, that is a way to add value to the papers at a face-2-face event. I don’t like workshops or conferences where people just present their paper, basically because I can read the paper much faster than they can present it to me 😉 … Most speakers followed my instructions and, when they didn’t, I gently (I hope!) forced them to…

Sven presenting our work at VISLA15

Sven presenting our work at VISLA15

A recurring theme at the workshop was how we can make visualisations as simple as possible, but not simpler. Sometimes, all you need is a traffic light where green means “you’re fine”, red means “you’re in trouble” and yellow means “we’re not sure”. But sometimes, you want to give more information than that, for instance to indicate how reliable the traffic light is (see Xavier’s presentation). Yet, how much more information and interaction can you provide before the visualisation gets in the way of the learning? Of course, it depends on the target audience and context…

During the breakout session, participants discussed how we could organise a VISLA16 event that would ground visualisations more in the problems that they try to address. Maybe we could organise a “call for problems”. It would be really sweet if we could connect this with datasets that participants could use to show how their visualisations addressed the problems…

VISLA breakout session discussions

VISLA breakout session discussions

I like this idea, as it makes things very concrete. It could also tie in nicely with the hackaton that was taking place in parallel with the VISLA workshop. Maybe we should combine our efforts in 2016…?

Another nice outcome of the workshop is the google document started in one of the breakout groups: the hope is that we can develop this first attempt to define research questions into a full research agenda. This would be quite useful, as it is clear that visualisations play a central role in learning analytics, as also witnessed by a number of papers on this topic in the main conference. In the mean time, you can find the VISLA15 papers and presentations on the workshop web site.


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