December 10th, 2012

Crashing and Phoenixing: Data MOOCs

That social network analysis MOOC (Massive Online Open Course) I signed up for that initially went so well? I started having technical problems (not being able to view the videos at all, or seeing them without sound) on both Internet Explorer and Firefox. Updating browser versions, Flash & Java weren’t being able to fix it and I quickly learned closed captioning alone isn’t enough for me to ‘get it’ with videos, so I called it quits.

That said, there are several other MOOCs that have caught my attention for 2013 that may be of interest to you especially for data management and visualization. Things like the Electronic Health Records Infographic from healthit.gov don’t create themselves, although my quibble is the source data at the bottom needs to actually be legible.

Introduction to Infographics and Data Visualization – January 12 – February23, 2013. This is the second offering of the class from the Knight Center for Journalism and the course platform is Moodle. I teach using Moodle so I’m studying the design and management closely – currently there are over 3,400 of us in there when I often cap my classes at 50 to keep things manageable. Enrollment was painless and provided immediate access after account setup to the main page and an introduction video, syllabus, instructor bio and even links to the first week reading assignments to get a head start. Course objectives include

  • How to analyze and critique infographics and visualizations in newspapers, books, TV, etc., and how to propose alternatives that would improve them.
  • How to plan for data-based storytelling through charts, maps, and diagrams.
  • How to design infographics and visualizations that are not just attractive but, above all, informative, deep, and accurate.
  • The rules of graphic design and of interaction design, applied to infographics and visualizations.
  • Optional: How to use Adobe Illustrator to create infographics.

As with most MOOCs no academic credit is offered, and a completion certificate is available for $30 if you meet the requirements for finishing the class. Thanks to Susan Kistler of the American Evaluation Association for the tip!

Data Management for Clinical Research – April 2013 for six weeks (this seems to be a standard MOOC course length) by Vanderbilt University on Coursera, the same platform that was crashing & burning for me so I’m hesitant to give it another go plus I’m not directly involved in clinical research or supporting it. The course description is

This course is designed to teach important concepts related to research data planning, collection, storage and dissemination. Instructors will offer information and best-practice guidelines for 1) investigator-initiated & sponsored research studies, 2) single- & multi-center studies, and 3) prospective data collection & secondary-reuse of clinical data for purposes of research. The curriculum will balance theoretical guidelines with the use of practical tools designed to assist in planning and conducting research. Real-world research examples, problem solving exercises and hands-on training will ensure students are comfortable with all concepts.

It would definitely be of interest to those new to working in clinical research , and thanks to Amy Donahue for alerting the Twitter #medlibs community to it!

Speaking of Twitter #medlibs chats, they has been consuming the vast majority of my personal bloggage time – I can apparently either do that or this blog well/regularly but not both at the same time. Be sure to stop by this Thursday, December 13th (last organized #medlibs chat of 2012) and check the #medlibs blog for details and transcripts of the great conversations your colleagues have been having.

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