Information Visualization

Module Description

This module introduces information design principles and practices used in visualizations aimed at communicating information. Given our cognitive constraints in understanding patterns from numerical data alone, information visualizations are increasingly ubiquitous and critically important to generating new knowledge in academia, industry and government. Examples range from infographics in the news media to mobile device applications that collect and visualize personal data.

Students will learn the fundamentals of data types, encoding systems, and visual techniques that leverage our perceptual systems. In addition, students will critically examine best practices in information visualizations with a focus on mobile device applications.

Module Level: Introductory - requires no prior knowledge.

Learning Outcomes

By the end of the module students will be able to:

  • identify the basic design principles behind information visualizations;
  • understand principles of visual perception and cognition for information visualization;
  • think critically about current practices in information visualization, that includes assessing their effectiveness.
Suggested Learning Activities and Assignments

Video lectures and readings will prepare students to identify and scrutinize visualizations in the news media and in mobile devices. Suggested activities include preparing 4 analytical documents, each related to the main topic of the lectures. Students are encouraged to use images captured from the visualization in addition to diagrams to illustrate the analysis.


Isabel Meirelles (OCAD University) is a Professor in the Faculty of Design and a researcher in the Visual Analytics Lab. In addition to collaborating with scientists and humanists in the development of visualization systems, Isabel’s research focuses on the theoretical and experimental examination of how information is structured, and communicated in different media. She is the author of Design for Information: An introduction to the histories, theories, and best practices behind effective information visualizations (Rockport Publishers, 2013).