This class schedule accompanies a longer syllabus that you should be sure to read. Due to the constantly evolving field of dataviz, this schedule is subject to change.


Tues 2/21 Class: Welcome!

About the class. See examples of amazing stories that can only be told by seeing visual data. Make your first data visualization as a group in class using Google Drive and Tabletop.js. We also walk through how to use the class blog.

Assignment 1: Register for the class blog, fill out this survey.

Homework before next class: Sign up for the Excel Fundamentals class, and go through everything in chapter 3: Creating Formulas and Functions. (Remember, Lynda courses are free to you if you sign in using the instructions outlined here).

Excel basics:

Thursday 2/23: Finding and Working With Data

Now that we’ve been inspired with great examples, let’s see some see examples of classic ethical failures using data visualization, like this:, or this map of Ashley Madison registered users. and examples of generalizations that misinterpreted data. We review where to find public data and how to use Excel to “interview data” (sorting, filtering, normalizing).Show how to use Excel, Google Drive and Google Fusion Tables to create simple charts that can be embedded into web stories.

Assignment 2: Create a chart in with data you find and embed it into the class blog along with a story about the data.



Tues 2/28 Class: Simple Web Visualizations

Guest: Jodi Upton, Knight Chair in Data and Explanatory Journalism.,, Maps, Google Fusion Tables, Thinglink and other simple visualization tools that don’t require advanced coding.

Thursday 3/2: Mapping with  Mapbox and CartoDB

Use data you find at,, or elsewhere to create an interactive map, chart or graph that tells a story that isn’t obvious by simply looking at raw data. We go over how to use Mapbox and CartoDB.

Assignment 3: Make an interactive map in CartoDB using their free tutorials.



Tues 3/7 Class: Advanced CartoDB

Assignment 4: Create your own story with data you find or collect using a map in CartoDB.

Thursday 3/9: Interactive Timelines

Move beyond a text-heavy timeline of events and make it interactive using Timeline.js. Review examples of timelines in news stories, and see how to make them yourself.

Assignment 5: Go through Lisa Williams’ Absurdly illustrated Guide to creating a timeline and embed it in the class blog.



Tues 3/21 Class:  Highcharts

Guest speaker: Jodi Upton, Knight Chair in Data an Explanatory Journalism.

Explore how to use the Highcharts javascript library to create quick interactive online charts that you can upload to your web site:

Assignment 6: Create some Highcharts for a story you’re interested in, then upload and embed it to the class blog.

Thursday 3/23: Tabletop sortable, searchable data tables

Remember that class roster we created together the first day? Now you’re going to use the same code to make your own searchable, sortable data table.


WEEK 5: Where can you go from here?

Tues 3/28 Class:  Javavscript, Jquery and D3

Assignment 7: Post your NVD3 visualizations in the class blog along with a story explaining the data behind it, and why it matters.

Thursday 3/30: Wrapping up

Assignment 8: Submit a proposal for your final project.


Make sure you have taken a relevant online course and posted a blog entry about how you used what you learned to either improve one of your assignments, or to create a new visualization not covered in class. If you create a new visualization, be sure to embed it into the blog post. Be sure to post a link to the blog post into the Requirement assignment in Blackboard.


Use at least three of the data visualization tools we have used in class to create a multi-faceted story that you publish on the class blog. The data and topic should be different from examples and tutorials in your assignments. Feel free to use any of the tools listed here, too:

The final project is due exactly 30 days after the last class.