What is a Data Exploration?

We develop interactive Data Explorations using authentic raw OOI data relevant to Introduction to Oceanography concepts to assist with the integration of OOI data into undergraduate oceanography courses.

The data activities are based in:

  1. Learning science research about how people learn. Currently, data are most often used to demonstrate a concept after it has been taught (i.e., to apply/assess new knowledge), however data can be used to engage a learner in multiple ways. Therefore, multiple versions of each Data Exploration are available that use OOI data with surrounding questions and prompts to enable professors to utilize the data and OOI tools at different phases of a learning cycle based instructional model.
  2. A framework for supporting novice users interacting with authentic data. All too often we assume that students can orient themselves to data and that if they can interpret what is on the page they can make the next steps of how that relates to other concepts and/or data sets. However, research and experience demonstrates that novice data users cannot make the same mental jumps in interacting with data as experts can. Therefore, the Data Explorations scaffold the students? use of the data visualization through provided questions at the three main steps of interacting with data: orientation, interpretation, and synthesis.
  3. Best practices of user experience design and usability of data visualizations. Building off of the current advancements in the user experience design field, the Data Explorations are developed to increase the usability and user positive perceptions of working with data. The data visualization structure is intuitive for novice data users and consistent across all data activities, so that students can move beyond initial orientation to be able to more easily dive deeply into the data with each successive activity used.

How Are the Data Explorations Set-up?

Data Explorations combine current learning science theory, data visualization user design, and effective teaching with data practices to provide easy-to-use interactive experiences with authentic data.

For each data set there are multiple ways that a student can interact with the data, depending on the desired learning outcome. This provides you as the professors to choose which data set and approach best fits your desired intention of using it in your classroom.

Another way the Data Explorations are built with flexibility in mind is that they are each designed to take 15-20 minutes. They are intended to augment your current teaching on a topic, not fully teach the topic. Therefore, you can add them into your teaching whenever and wherever you think it would be best as data can be used at many different phases of The Learning Cycle.

How Are the Data Chosen?

We begin with a freely available online data portal, for example the Ocean Observatories Initiative Data Portal, and determine what kinds of data are available across what spatial and temporal scales.

Then we consult with commonly used textbooks for introductory courses, for example The Essentials of Oceanography, to highlight which concepts covered in the textbook could be augmented with the available data.

After drafting learning objectives based off of the textbook concepts and The Learning Cycle, we dive into the data portals to extract and process the most relevant data to utilize in the Data Exploration interactives.

How Are the Interactives of the Data Explorations Developed?

Using the learning objectives as our guide as well as the quantity and quality of the available data, we design the interactive component of the data exploration to maximize learning and minimize user frustration.

The interactives are prototyped and revised for usability, ability to accomplishing the desired learning objective, and interest of professors to integrated the Data Explorations into their teaching.

The data in the interactives are not being pulled live from the stream to ensure that they will work no matter if the original source experiences difficulties, undergoes ungrading, etc. The data within the Data Explorations will be updated periodically to include the most complete and up-to-date as possible.