Why NOT to use pie charts and other fun tips: An introductory course on Data Visualization

Have you ever seen an infographic that was beautiful, but didn’t have a clear message? 

Or wade through a bunch of tables but struggle to see any meaningful patterns and trends? 

Ever see a chart you thought was terrible, but couldn’t figure out how to fix it? 

The Global Health eLearning platform’s recently released introductory course on data visualization tackles it all in a 4 step process: identifying your audience and their context, finding the story in your data, building your visualization, and dissemination and use.

The course pulls from the current expertise in data visualization, from Tufte to Evergreen, but repackages it with a global health perspective and with a beginning learner in mind.  Global health projects worldwide are expected to make data-driven decisions, to monitor and evaluate their progress, and to report successes to governments and funding agencies.  Basic data visualization skills can enhance individual’s and organization’s abilities to analyze and present their data, leading ultimately to better data use and more efficient global health programming.

Through a realistic case study and a set of commonly used World Bank population indicators, the course introduces concepts such as numeracy, drafting data headlines, smart use of preattentive attributes, matching data stories to the appropriate graph type, and working with a diverse team of experts to develop more complex visualizations such as infographics, maps, and data dashboards.

Full of current global health examples, learners will see successful uses of data visualization in our field, and finish the course armed with practical guidelines and tools that can be used in their next data visualization project.



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