Designing a Live Discussion Visualization for the Classroom: Part 2/3

Tomorrow I’ll be evaluating a couple of dashboards to visualize the activity of students/teacher in a feedback/discussion session live in the classroom. These dashboards are based on the designs I’ve discussed in this previous post. I’ll start by sketching the situation again, then present the 4 designs that will be tested. The article’s goals is also to familiarize the students with the designs. I’ll keep my explanation to the essentials. After the evaluations are done, I’ll be going more into detail.

Simple interface to allow “likes”.

The class consists of 12 students, split into groups of 3. Each group gives a presentation on their progress of the past week, after which everyone can give feedback and ask questions, including the teacher and teacher assistants (which makes 4 groups of students + 1 group of teacher/TAs). A large TV in the classroom will display the feedback activity. Each group can send a “like” to any other group for their questions or comments, using a simple web interface (see figure above).


Feedback given

Likes received

A straightforward way of presenting the distribution of feedback is through a histogram. When a group talks, its “feedback” bar grows. When a group receives a like, an extra like is added behind their name. Equal bar lengths indicate balance between groups.


Every tree represents a group. Apples represent “likes”. Legends are available in full version.

Very similar to the Histograms, but a more “fun” representation (based on [1]), each group has its own tree. Trees grow as a group talks more. Apples are hung on a group’s tree for every comment they receive.


Presenter is represented by a pink dot. Other groups (teacher/TAs group, and each student group) are green. A line indicates feedback given. The thicker the line, the more feedback the group gave. During feedback, the line of the group blinks. For each “like” a group receives, their dot grows.

Every group is represented by a large dot. The presenter is indicated by the pink dot (Note: this is the only visualization where the presenter is also visualized. The presenter is static, cannot receive likes nor give feedback). A green dot equals one of the groups in the audience. A dot grows as the group receives more comments. A line appears between the group and the presenter when the group is giving feedback (blinks when active), and grows in width according to the amount of feedback.


Each group is represented by a pink dot. Starting from a balanced state, the top group starts giving feedback, moving their dot to the center. Other dots are pushed outwards.

The top group has received one “like”. The bottom has received 3.

The 4 groups giving feedback are visualized as pink dots. The large circle represents the average of the amount of feedback across all groups. When a group talks, their dot move inwards, away from the average. The others also move away from the average, but outwards. When there is balance, the dots will rest on the outer rim of the circle. Every comment adds a “moon” to the receiving group’s dot.


In case you are interested in the technical details: all visualizations were developed using Processing.js. Node.js was used to create the server application which stores all session data in MongoDB. Socket.IO takes care of the communication between the web interfaces, visualizations and the server.

[1] Nakahara J, Hisamatsu S, Yaegashi K, Yamauchi Y (2005) iTree: does the mobile phone encourage learners to be more involved in collaborative learning? In: Proceedings of the 2005 conference on computer support for collaborative learning: learning 2005: the next 10 years! (CSCL ‘05). International Society of the Learning Sciences, pp 470–478

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