Tuesday, 7 February 2012

Blogs viz and twitter aggregation

After a while, I have just decided to post about the new visualization of blog posts/comments and the twitter integration.

Usually the problem is that depending on which decisions you took (related to architecture/development), they have some consequences on the next iterations, so you have to stop and to think a bit about it.

Now, we are working on visualizing blogs of our thesis students, but they have also to tweet. So the ideal situation is merge both visualizations trying to get an overview of the students activity. You can see the visualization here. And you can find a small screencast bellow.

You have two tables. The first one for the authors and the other for external people, they can be supervisors, colleagues of the authors or simply people that decided to comment on the blogs. You have a legend with three colors (Green means posts, Blue means comments and red means no activity at all).

You can interact with the table in different ways:

  • If you click on the headers, the rows are sorted based on the activity.
  • Clicking on the header with the right button of the mouse, you can access to the blogs.
  • If you click on the cells, you get a tip with extra information. Click again to hide it.
  • If you click on the sparklines, you get a bigger visualization that shows the aggregated data of comments and blogs per week of the year.
Now the question is:

How to add twitter information to the current table?

Just thinking that in the end, twitter in this visualization can be like a blog. An additional source where users can do some activity.

However, also we are thinking to aggregate other data from toggl. Ok... it can be another column. And every additional source can be an additional column, but in the end, you can find a huge overview of your classroom activity.

For instance, another use case that I'm thinking about is on one course that I'm teaching. Is about learning management systems and technological resources. The students learn how to manage different LMSs in several weeks. In this period, they have to tweet and blog about web 2.0 tools and/or reflect on their weekly activity. So other scenario could be something like blog activity, twitter activity and activity in the different LMSs. Something like number of activities, resources, lessons and so on. But it is always the same... not sure whether the column system is a good approach. In addition, they are more than 100 hundred students... it means 100 hundred rows in the table... ok... we can minimize the impact adding a filter and sorting functionality, but sometimes you lose a bit of the overview. Maybe the solution is to add additional metrics to take the overview, but the matter here is... what are meaningful metrics? Once that you decide to provide metrics, you are trying to drive the conclusions. As a teacher, maybe this is the goal. But not sure whether students expect that from a learning dashboard and what is the data that they want to look into. Yes... for sure... you can ask them, but it is not so obvious approach because sometimes they never thought about what is meaningful for them. Anyway, life is a matter of decisions... and wrong decisions means a lesson that can be learned for the future... as Erik usually says life is learning.

I will tell you more about my decission and what I have learnt in the next post! Because it is what really matters... What do we learn from our research...

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