Web 2.0 Visualization Tools to Stimulate Generative Learning

Web 2.0 Visualization Tools to Stimulate Generative Learning

Jennifer R. Banas (Northeastern Illinois University, USA) and Carol A. Brown (East Carolina University, USA)
Copyright: © 2012 |Pages: 14
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-4666-0014-0.ch006
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Twenty-first century learners’ learning experiences require vastly different instructional opportunities than the generation before. These electronically bred learners have become “wired” to learn best from and to prefer instructional activities that allow them to manipulate their learning environment. With this understanding, educators should respond with instructional practices that not only support learners’ fundamental and preferred learning behaviors but also provide environments that foster creative and critical thinking experiences. New Web 2.0 educational technologies can help educators to deliver rich instruction that is relevant, appropriate, and that affords a “playground” in which generative learning can take place. This chapter introduces readers to a category of interactive technology instruments called visualization tools and how these tools can be used to stimulate generative learning. Examples are provided and criticisms of text visualization tools are also carefully considered. Readers are challenged to explore new uses for and the impact of visualization tools.
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Web 2.0 Visualization Tools

Visualization tools are interactive in design, thus information becomes more accessible and allows users to explore text in a way not afforded by traditional reading and processing of text alone. Uploading or pasting text into one of these visualization tools lets users create images that point to possible relationships, main ideas, and key terms. These images can facilitate the process of content analysis and quite possibly expand reader comprehension. Early proponents reported successful use of visualization retrieval tools to present bibliographic displays generated from huge amounts of digital information (Koshman, 2005; Rorvig & Lunin, 1999; Shneiderman, (1998). According to Wise et al. (1995) data sources become manageable and information retrieval efficient through organized graphic displays. Zhang refers to these visualizations as metaphors. Mental images can be formed and conceptual ideas more easily recognized, communicated, understood, and remembered (Zhang, 2008). Knowing that people recall 10% of what they read when tested three days after exposure compared to 65% if a picture or visual element is added (Medina, 2008), visualization tools may even support long term recall of information read.

While a number of visualization tools exist on the web, this chapter will highlight those on the Many Eyes web site (manyeyes.alphaworks.ibm.com). This particular web site was selected due to its comprehensive selection of visualization tools made available to users. Also discussed is the web site Wordle (www.wordle.net). .

Many Eyes was developed by researchers from the Visual Communications Lab, a subgroup of IBM’s Collaborative User Experience research team, as a means to help people collectively understand data. Because visualizations created are published on the web site for public viewing and solicit comments, Many Eyes transforms information into a participatory, social experience. Many Eyes offers several interactive technology instruments to transform both textual and numerical data. What follows is a brief description of four tools: Word Clouds, Phrase Net, Tag Clouds, and Word Trees.

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