LeahGrrl: Dream: (nonHE) Help others create cogent, useful visualizations for their work
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14 January 2013
I am currently involved in a project to design all the branches of learning for an online database of social/demographic indicators for the state of Ohio and especially its central region. Although this database has existed in the past, its new iteration (currently in development) promises to be even better. Like any good tool, it can be used at a very basic level (such as finding the school ratings for all primary schools in the state) or, with practice and support, at a very high level (such as uploading your own data). It allows users to create maps, tables, scatterplots, bar charts, line graphs, etc., simply by choosing the data they want to see. To support this learning, we plan online learning bits (e.g., short videos and how-tos) as well as face-to-face training events (e.g., using the more advanced functions).
Users of this tool include the staff of policy makers (such as a representative from a particular township trying to find school information); people from nonprofits/NGOs looking to use data in a grant proposal; and researchers, journalists, and students. But the tool is open to anyone who wants to use it, and the actual software is open source (WEAVE, http://www.oicweave.org/).
My situation is that the organizations I'm working with have a very simple view of training and learning support: "show somebody how to do it." I am trying to educate them on some basic ideas about adult learning and am at the same time trying to craft a landscape of different learning opportunities. The second cannot happen without some movement on the first. My first step was a short exercise (that seemed to them off the cuff but was actually well planned by me...heh heh heh) to identify some of their goals in offering the tool and translating them to what users might get out of it.
I would like to be a change agent so that the learning supports I develop will actually be used/useful for users--ideally, so that they can keep using the tool in more sophisticted ways to help them do their jobs. Additionally, I want to show the team that a learning design approach can be more helpful than a traditional "sage on the stage" approach to training.