With the advent of learning analytics, dashboards have become increasingly used in education to help teachers, students, administrators, and designers. There are three common types of dashboards that have received some attention: student-facing learning analytics dashboards, teacher-facing learning analytics dashboards, and designer-facing continuous improvement dashboards. Each of these types of dashboards has a unique purpose and accompanying design considerations (Kemsley, 2018), but the overarching purpose of each is to coalesce lots of data down to manageable, actionable bits and to present this information to targeted viewers in a way that will help them improve learning (either for themselves or for someone else).
In terms of ARC, all dashboards emphasize comprehension—attempting to help the viewer understand the meaning of underlying analytics data. Appeal is also very important, however, because viewing so much data can be wearying and confusing to viewers, and paying attention to design details that make dashboards pleasing and interesting will help encourage its use. Retention is the least important of the three for dashboards, because it is assumed that viewers will return to the dashboard when they need new insights on the data and that anything they see is readily actionable without having to remember details for an extended period.
For this project, you will create a mockup for a dashboard of your choice, focusing on helping either students, teachers, or designers to make sense of data.
Create a mockup of your own, original dashboard using Adobe Illustrator or another program.
- Design with either students, teachers, or designers as your targeted viewers.
- Include all relevant information that would be useful for your targeted viewers in the context you've selected.
- You may use either real or fictional data. Some fictional data sources that might be useful are available here, or you may also use available open data sets.
- Use appropriate graphical elements for each presented data type.
- Keep it simple. There is power in simplicity. Dashboards should take messy, complex data and refine it to something that is simple and actionable.
- Use appropriate visuals. Different visuals have different strengths and purposes. Pie charts are great for showing representation but poor for showing change over time, while histograms are the opposite. Choose visual types that are appropriate for each type of data presented.
- Be consistent. Even though you may use different types of visuals, keep the overall theme and tone consistent whenever possible in terms of colors, fonts, spacing, stroke widths, and so forth.
- Plan for flow. As you present more and more on the screen, the flow of your viewers' eyes becomes increasingly important to consider, because it can be easy for them to get lost in a sea of graphs. Use element placement, spacing, and color choices (e.g., eyes are drawn to brighter and warmer colors) to facilitate flow through the dashboard.
- Build on others' work. You don't have to create everything from scratch. Use existing design guides and user interface design kits whenever possible, especially when creating buttons, drop-downs, and other interactive and common elements.
Creating Graphs in Adobe Illustrator
How to Create Graphs in Adobe Illustrator
|Color||Color is not used or is distracting, disharmonious, or confusing.||Color is used in a non-distracting manner …||… that enhances visibility …||… and enhances meaning and aesthetics.|
|Layout||The layout is either cluttered or sparse.||The layout gives sufficient space to all elements, …||… organizing them in an aesthetic manner …||… that fosters readability and instant recognition.|
|Graphics||Few original graphics are used, or graphics are poorly constructed, not discernible, or distracting.||Many original graphics are used (e.g., illustrations, graphs, icons) …||… that are clearly discernible for what they are …||… and improve aesthetics in a professional-looking manner.|
|Font||Fonts are not used or are inappropriate, inconsistent, or frequently changing.||Appropriate fonts and text sizes are used …||… in a consistent manner …||… that only changes to enhance meaning (e.g. preattentive attributes).|
|Topic||The topic is unimportant, too broad, or otherwise not memorable.||The topic is important, …||… sufficiently focused, …||… and memorable.|
|Visualization||Visuals do not effectively support the memorability of the information/data.||Visuals effectively support memorability of the information/data …||… by effectively illustrating the content …||… in an unforgettable manner.|
|Citation||Citations for information/data are not provided.||Citations for information/data are provided …||… and are trustworthy …||… and include multiple sources.|
|Type||The type of infographic does not align well with the information/data presented.||The type of infographic effectively presents the content …||… in a manner that enhances meaning …||… and could not be presented as well via alternate infographic types.|
|Organization||The organization of content has no discernible flow.||The organization of content has a discernible flow …||… that allows for quick understanding …||… and enhances meaning (e.g. flowing from general concepts to specifics).|
Kemsley, B. (2018). Continuous Improvement Dashboards. In R. Kimmons (Ed.), The Students' Guide to Learning Design and Research. EdTech Books. Retrieved from https://edtechbooks.org/studentguide/continuous_improvement
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