Sheila B Robinson

Reflections of an everyday educator/program evaluator/professional developer…LEARNER

Can a DataViz novice become a slide snob?


Yes. Yes, I can. Like so many other evaluators (and journalists, presenters, trainers, etc.) I’ve been sucked into the compelling world of Data Visualization and Reporting, Infographics, and the art of presentation. It’s evaluspheric reform at its best. In fact, I can see a new branch growing on Christina Christie and Marvin Alkin’s Evaluation Theory Tree. It’s the REPORTING branch, and it’s just starting to bud. It will certainly feature data visualization leaders and thinkers, and I imagine the first name to appear near the base will be Evergreen (hey, now THAT’S a name that works, given the tree metaphor!).

Stephanie Evergreen’s Potent Presentations Initiative (P2i) has helped launch a new wave of evaluation DataViz & Reporting enthusiasts, and catalyzed my newest learning journey which included giving my first Ignite Presentation at AEA2012. Back in 2010, John Nash mentioned two fabulous books in this aea365 post: Nancy Duarte’s Slide:ology, and Garr Reynolds’ Presentation Zen.  I can assure you, they’re both WELL worth the investment. Susan Kistler (among others) has posted and presented many, many tech tools and resources to fuel the cravings of any data or tech geek (a quick search on aea365 yields over a dozen of her posts on the topic). 

I just registered for a Massive Open Online Course (MOOC) – “Introduction to Infographics and Data Visualization” with Alberto Cairo. I’m anxious to learn and hope I can keep up with the rigorous reading and assignments (and feel confident enough to share them here), but I know I’ll be in good company with my evaluator friends. I just received my copy of the primary text, Cairo’s The Functional Art and can’t wait to dig into it!

Data visualization goes far beyond improving PowerPoint slides. I’m also working diligently on eliminating “chart junk” (David Shellard presented a great AEA Coffee Break Webinar on this – Data Visualization in Microsoft Excel) to improve charts, tables, and graphs. However, as a reformed Death-by-PowerPointer, I’m ready to go public with the error of my former ways.  Here’s an example of a slide I used when I first taught my Program Evaluation Methods course over 4 years ago: Old slide

And an example of the slide I used just last summer:

New slide

Now, this new version won’t be nominated for any DataViz awards, but given my nascent skills, I’m pleased with the first pass improvement.

Author: Sheila B Robinson, Ed. D

Custom Professional Learning, LLC

6 thoughts on “Can a DataViz novice become a slide snob?

  1. I love your idea of new branch on an EVERGREEN tree.

  2. OK, I just signed up for the course too Sheila. Should I highlight it next week on aea365 and we could have a whole AEA contingent? Thanks for the great lead!

    • Hi Susan! Thanks for the comment. So glad you made it into the course. My understanding is that the first course had 2000 and some were turned away. Last time I looked, Alberto Cairo posted that over 1100 are already signed up for the January one. I think it would be great to highlight on aea365 and have a contingent. In fact, I think some AEA members are already registered. It would make for some great collegial correspondence, and perhaps even launch interesting proposals for AEA13.

  3. Great! I’ll check right before I post just to be sure it hasn’t filled yet.

  4. Still spaces available! It is the topic of this week’s Saturday aea365 post – thanks so much for the lead Sheila.

  5. Pingback: On Being Part of the 90% {sigh} | Evaluspheric Perceptions

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