Syllabus 2016

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The DataViz seminar at Trinity College works with Hartford-area community partners to build online data visualizations (such as interactive charts, maps, and simple web apps). We teach with easy-to-learn free tools and open data, and co-create sustainable products that everyday people, with minimal coding skills, can embed on their own websites. Beginners are welcome; no prior experience required. Most Trinity students enroll through the FORG 210-04 internship seminar for 1 credit, which requires working 8 hours/week with a community partner field supervisor, with an internship form approved by the Career Development Center. Learn about our matchmaking process.

Instructors: Professor Jack Dougherty: web or email or book appointment.
Teaching Assistant Veronica Armendariz ’16: email, website

Veronica’s Office Hours: Tuesdays 4:30pm-6:00pm and Thursdays 12:30pm-2:00pm in the Summit Suites North common room.

Time/Location: Our class runs most Fridays 12-1pm (light lunch provided) from January 29 to April 29, 2016. After class from 1-3pm, the instructors host drop-in hours for questions and help. All sessions are open to the public and located at TrinfoCafe, 1300 Broad Street, Hartford, Connecticut. Map and Directions

Computers and Textbook: Participants are encouraged to bring a personal laptop, or use public desktop computers at Trinfo Cafe. Our primary reading is Data Visualization for All, an open-access textbook-in-progress that the instructors will expand as the seminar progresses. Read online at

Wifi access at Trinfo Cafe:
• Trinity students should use their TrinAir network.
• Off-campus guests should connect to “Guest” network:
1) Open your browser. If you do not automatically see login screen, click on browser “home” button or any bookmark.
2) Login username = trinfo-guest     password = trinfo2015
3) You should be redirected to a confirmation screen

Photos and Video for public use: With your permission, we are taking photos and audio/video recordings of participants at our weekly sessions, and also during site visits with community partners. The video will be selectively edited to highlight questions, conversations, and real examples, and we plan to broadcast excerpts on the public web, to help teach broader audiences about data visualization.  and teach broader audiences about data visualization. Please review and sign our consent form.


(subject to change; * =more to come; major revisions marked in red)

Jump to: Week 1: Jan 29 — Week 2: Feb 5 — Week 3: Feb 12 — Week 4: Feb 19 — Week 5: Feb 26 — Week 6: March 4 — Week 7: March 11 — Week 8: March 25 — Week 9: April 1 — Week 10: April 8 — Week 11: April 15 — Week 12: April 22 — Week 13: April 29 — Assessment

Week 1: Fri Jan 29 Orientation: Students & Community Partners

  • Welcome to TrinfoCafe, by Carlos Espinosa
  • Introductions by all participants
  • Why are we video recording? Media consent forms
  • DataViz goals: Tell your story and show it with data
  • Gallery of examples
  • Principles that guide our process: simplicity, compatibility, data portability, sustainability, public/private policy
  • Expectations for Trinity Students: weekly assignments, community partnerships, and assessment
  • Expectations for Community Partners: online evaluations in March and May (preview the questions); site visits recommended March 7-11th; co-present product and process with student on April 22 or 29
  • Demo: Collaborative writing with shared Google Docs on Google Drive (to create your own requires free account)
  • Assignment 1a: Students fill out quick survey on Google Forms by end of Thursday Feb 4th
  • Assignment 1b: Create “Partner Planning” document to clarify expectations and to-do list, due on GDoc Organizer by end of Thursday Feb 4th
    • Go to our DataViz GDoc Organizer
    • Open my Partner Planning GDoc template
    • File > Make a Copy (requires free account)
    • Share Settings > Advanced > Anyone with this link can comment
    • Copy link to your Partner Planning GDoc and paste as a link on your name in our Organizer
    • Discuss planning with community partner and answer questions
  • Photos of Trinity students and community partners for web
  • To learn more: Collect survey data with Google Forms, and share with Google Sheets on Google Drive (requires a free account to create your own form)
  • Public drop-in hours to talk and collaborate, 1-2:15pm today

Week 2: Fri Feb 5 Basic Interactive Charts; Embed with iframe

  • Organize data to match your partner planning
  • Tutorial: Publish your first post in; login to this site at
  • Tutorials: Prepare your data, in
    • public/private, formatting spreadsheets, calculating formulas
  • Tutorials: Transform your data, in
  • Tutorial: Create a basic chart in Google Sheets, log in with Google Drive
  • Tutorial: Embed your dataviz with iframe, in
  • Assignment 2: Publish a post about you and your community partner, with links and images, category = 2 Data Viz Bio, due by end of Thursday Feb 11th
  • Assignment 3: Use sample or actual data, create a pivot table, then an interactive chart in Google Sheets, and embed it in a WordPress post, category = 3 Google Sheets, due by end of Thursday Feb 11th
  • Reminder: Choose how to display your name in WordPress Dashboard > Profile. (See instructions in the first steps of How to Publishing on
  • To learn more: Join spreadsheet tables with vlookup (to come in*
  • Public drop-in hours to talk and collaborate, 1-3pm today

Week 3: Fri Feb 12 Find Open Data; More Advanced Charts

Week 4: Fri Feb 19 Compare Point Map Tools; Geocoding and Census Areas

Week 5: Fri Feb 26 Thematic polygon maps; merge data and geography

  • Tutorial: Polygon map with Social Explorer (for pre-existing census area data)
  • Tutorial: Polygon map with Google Fusion Tables (for any data and geography you upload)
  • Assignment 6: How to Lie with Maps
    • Read Mark S. Monmonier, How to Lie with Maps, 2nd ed. (University of Chicago Press, 1996), pp. 39-42.
    • Create two contrasting polygon map interpretations of the same data, using the tutorial sample or your partner data
    • One map should emphasize sameness, and the other should highlight extreme inequality
    • Embed both maps, with a one-paragraph explanation of your design choices, in WordPress post category = 6 Lying with Polygon Maps due by the end of Thursday March 3rd
  • To learn more: ColorBrewer for thematic polygon map design
  • To learn more: Overlay maps with FusionTablesLayer Wizard
  • Public drop-in hours to talk and collaborate, 1-3pm today
  • Don’t forget! Office hours with Veronica begin this week: Tuesday 4:30pm-6:00pm and Thursday 12:30pm-2:00pm in the Summit Suites North common room.

Week 6: Fri March 4 Modify Code Templates; Shape Map Data

  • Book is now at
  • About Modifying open-source code templates on
  • Tutorial: Copy, Edit, and Host Live Code with GitHub Pages in
  • Fork a copy of my GitHub repository: Leaflet-Map-Simple
  • Assignment 7: Modify Code Templates
    • Fork data visualization code from any GitHub repository
    • Modify the code, preferably using your own data
    • Create a live version with a gh-pages branch
    • Write a WordPress post that explains your dataviz (check two categories = 7-modify-code and your name), due by end of Tues March 15th
    • Embed your dataviz as an iframe of the gh-pages link, or if not feasible, simply insert a link to your gh-pages branch
  • Shape Map Data with and in
  • Learn more: Copy and modify Searchable Map Template with Google Fusion Tables and GitHub in
  • To learn more: Clone branches with GitHub Desktop, and edit files with Atom, in
  • Public drop-in hours to talk and collaborate, 1-3pm today

Week 7: Fri March 11 Community partner visits

  • Instead of our regular class, arrange a day/time for me to visit you and your community partner to learn about your dataviz project:
    • with Kaitlyn and Mike at Hartford Food System, 1 Congress St, Wed March 9, 10:30-11am
    • with Binh at TrendCT, Press Room at Leg Office Bldg, Wed March 9, 11:15-11:45am
    • with Doris at KNOX, 75 Laurel St, Wed March 9, 12-12:30pm
    • with Stefania and CT Girl Scouts near end of workshop at Lyceum, 227 Lawrence St, Wed March 9th 3-4-ish pm
    • with Amy at CT Landmarks, 59 South Prospect St, Wed March 9th, 4:30-5pm
    • with Stacy at Injury Prevention Ctr, 12 Charter Oak Place, Thur March 10th, 10-10:30am
    • with Norah at Capital Workforce Partners, 1 Union Place, Thursday March 10th, 1:30-2pm
  • Students: Mid-semester self-evaluation due online by Tuesday March 15th
  • Community partners: Mid-semester student evaluation due online by Tuesday March 15th
  • Community partners and students: complete the Doodle poll on your scheduling availability for late April presentations
  • No drop-in hours at TrinfoCafe today

Fri March 18 Spring break – no class, no drop-in hours

Week 8: Fri March 25 Preparing demos of work-in-progress

  • Confirm presentation schedule for April (see further below)
  • Google Fusion Table templates and Leaflet templates in
  • GitHub hints:
    • If you already forked a repo once, go to your repo Settings to change its name or delete it to fork another copy
    • You can edit your repo in the browser, or for more complex projects, download GitHub Desktop and sync branches to your local computer for editing
  • Everyone demonstrates progress and next steps on dataviz projects
  • Assignment 8: Web demonstration of work-in-progress
    • Create a web demonstration of your dataviz work-in-progress, even if all parts are not yet complete
    • Embed as an iframe and/or insert a link in a WordPress post. Select TWO categories (8-demo-in-progress and your name)
    • Write a paragraph on your partner’s vision for this project
    • Insert two detailed lists: steps you have completed, and steps to be done
    • Due by the end of Thursday, March 31st, worth 10 points
  • Public drop-in hours to talk and collaborate, 1-3pm today.
  • See also Veronica’s office hours and Jack’s online appointment calendar.

Week 9: Fri April 1 Peer feedback on work-in-progress

  • Everyone demonstrates progress and next steps on dataviz projects
  • Assignment 9: Peer feedback
    • Each student will be assigned to constructively criticize TWO projects
    • See current draft of Assignment 8, and post your feedback in comments
    • In two paragraphs: what works well, and what could be improved
    • DUE on Sunday April 3rd by 12 noon; worth 10 points
    • See Assignment 9 GDoc sheet with your assigned drafts to review.
  • Continue to work on your dataviz projects; create new or updated demos
  • Public drop-in hours to talk and collaborate, 1-3pm today
  • See also Veronica’s office hours and Jack’s online appointment calendar.

Week 10: Fri April 8 Preparing for presentations

  • Assignment 10A: Design a 5-minute presentation, to be delivered with your community partner, that tells the story of your data visualization. Your Google Slides must be embedded in a WordPress post (category = 10 dataviz final and your names) by the end of Thursday April 21st. Be sure to:
    • Title slide: with full names, organization links, date of April 2016
    • Vision slide(s): the organization’s mission, needs, current website (?)
    • Process slide(s): key stages, data resources, decisions to create the tool
    • Demo slide(s): include static images of dataviz AND link to live site
    • Reflections and Next Steps: what did you and your partner learn? what next?
  • Tutorial: Share and Publish your Google Slides, and embed in WordPress
  • Everyone: What progress have you made on your dataviz projects since last week? What are your next steps? Your most current demo should appear in category 8-demo-in-progress, either as an revised or updated post
  • Working with Google Fusion Table templates
  • Public drop-in hours to talk and collaborate, 1-3pm today

Week 11: Fri April 15 Dataviz ownership and sustainability

  • Sample presentation by Veronica (who doesn’t know about this yet) and Jack. Feel free to File > Make a Copy of our Google Slides as a template, or design your own.
  • Finish your dataviz demos: include source credits (with links when appropriate)
  • Assignment 10B: Write a transfer and training plan to migrate your dataviz and ALL source files to your partner.
    • Which files need to be transferred? How are they labeled? Who owns or has access to them?
    • What info and training does the partner need to maintain or update the dataviz? Spell out the steps in your post, and refer to DataVizForAll if needed.
    • Due by end of Thurs Apr 21st in WordPress post (categories = 10 dataviz final and your name), and it should appear at the bottom of the SAME post that includes your embedded Google Slides presentation.
  • Show category 8 dataviz demos and tell us what support you need to finish them
  • Public drop-in hours to talk and collaborate, 1-3pm today

Week 12: Fri April 22 Presentations part 1 at Trinfo Cafe, 12-1pm

Week 12.5: Wed April 27 Presentations part 2, Hallden Hall, arrive 5:30pm

  • Selected students and community partners co-present their work at the Trinity Community Learning Partners Appreciation Reception, located at Hallden Hall (see map — enter Broad Street gate near New Britain Ave, and park anywhere) arrive by 5:30, presentations from 5:50-6:15pm

Week 13: Fri April 29 Presentations part 3 at Trinfo Cafe, 12-1pm


Students may access their individual scores on the password-protected Moodle site. Your work will be evaluated based on:

  • Weekly assignments: #1 thru #7 (each worth 5); #8 thru #10 (each worth 10) = 65 points
  • Community partner mid-semester evaluation (worth 10 points) and final evaluation (worth 15) = 25 points
  • Peer evaluation of overall contribution to learning in the seminar = 10 points
  • Total = 100 points

Late assignments will receive a 10 percent penalty for every 12 hours overdue, with exceptions granted only for verified medical or family emergencies.

In this course, unsatisfactory work (below 70%) falls in the D or F range, adequate work (70-79%) in the C range, good work (80-89%) in the B range, and outstanding work (90 to 100%) in the A range. Each range is divided into equal thirds for minus (-), regular, and plus (+) letter grades. For example, 80 to 83.33% = B-, 83.34 to 86.67 = B, and 86.68 to 89.99 = B+.

Students are expected to engage in academic honesty in all forms of work for this course. You are responsible for understanding and following the Intellectual Honesty policy (around page 20) of the Trinity Student Handbook.

Students with Academic Accommodations: Trinity College complies with the Americans with Disabilities Act and Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act. If you have a documented disability and require academic accommodations, please schedule a meeting with me during the first two weeks of the semester and bring a copy of your accommodations letter. If you do not have a letter, but have questions about applying for academic accommodations, please contact Lori Clapis, Coordinator of Accommodation Resources, at 860-297-4025 or

Please notify me during the first week of the course if you require any scheduling accommodations for religious observances.

How to succeed in this seminar:

  • Bookmark this online syllabus and check it often for updates (marked in red).
  • Keep a calendar—paper or digital—to manage your time and meet deadlines.
  • Attend each class on time, preferably with a personal laptop, and focus on learning. Avoid distractions.
  • Participate in the learning process. The goal is to improve education for all, not you alone. At the end of the semester, your peers will evaluate your overall contribution to learning by the seminar.
  • Take the initiative by asking questions. If you don’t understand something, other students probably are puzzled, too, so ask the question.
  • Continue learning outside of our scheduled class by talking with peers. Contact our TA to ask for extra help. Email me any quick questions, or book an appointment for longer discussions, or come to our drop-in hours.
  • If an illness or emergency interferes with attending class, email me immediately and make arrangements to catch up on missing work.