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A free summer seminar for experienced high school journalism advisers

From the 23 teachers who attended this workshop in July 2019, we have included Solutions Journalism Story Ideas, other Story Ideas for a whole range of topics and Tech Examples of something they learned, many of these for data visualization, plus some resources anyone can use in the future for these topics.

Experimenting with Google Flourish and survey data

After being introduced to the Flourish data visualization tool, I was eager to see how it might be used in a practical way wit the kind of data my own students generate. One of those data-gathering opportunities is the senior survey my student journalists conduct at the end of each year. I had access to the survey results from last year’s graduating class and chose to play with a few of the survey question results to see how they compare. Here’s what I got:

I noticed a few things in working with Flourish. First, it took a long time for me to think logically through exactly which visualization tool would display the data in a usable way. I settled on the “survey” template (maybe a little obviously). I think if I were teaching this to students, I would want them to first think about exactly what the reader would want to know, then find the visualization type that helps to answer that question, then compile (or find) the data to input into the tool. I initially imported the entire spreadsheet of survey responses, and I found it to be unwieldy and overwhelming.

The other thing I might have them do is create a few fictitious simple spreadsheets just to get a clear idea of how numbers become pictures. I don’t think it’s intuitive, and though the tool seems simple, there are actually a lot of different customization options that make it more complex.

After getting over my initial confusion, I actually like what I came up with. I was even able to draw something interesting from the data by using the comparison feature. By comparing the students who had failed a class with the students who had cheated on a test, I could see that the largest group had cheated on a test but had not failed a class. Interesting!

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