INFO 474: Interactive Info Visualization

INFO 474: Interactive Info Visualization

course_icon.pngINFO 474: Interactive Info Visualization

Instructor & TA Information

Instructor Photo

Mike Freeman
Open Discussion: T/Th 1:30 - 3:20
Office Hours: M/W 11:30 - 12:30 or appt.

Kevin Weng
Notebook Working: Th 12:30 - 1:30 
Office Hours: W 1:30 - 2:30 or appt.

Spring 2020 Special Accommodations (Instructor Statement: Learning  in Spring 2020)

All of our lives, in different ways and to different degrees, have been dramatically impacted by the Coronavirus. Our lives and social structures have shifted, and it is an incredibly difficult time to learn, teach, and maintain our obligations to ourselves, our families, and our communities. 

Amidst such radical change, we have all chosen to participate in this course. We are a group of adults with shared interests, and I am committed to scaffolding a course that allows you to meet the learning objectives outlined below. Teaching and learning online will be a  challenge, and I hope we can be patient with the limitations of distance learning (something new to many of us, myself included). 

Course Description

Welcome to INFO 474, Interactive Information Visualization! This course equips students with the conceptual and technical skills necessary to design and build interactive data visualizations on the web. Drawing lessons from user-centered design, perceptual psychology, and cognitive science, students will study best practices for encoding data with visual properties. By understanding these foundational principles, students will be able to devise visual resources that amplify comprehension, inference, and memorability of quantitative information. Students will use a variety of tools to build visualizations, but the primary tool will be the D3 JavaScript library (Links to an external site.), which provides a vocabulary for encoding data with visual properties.

How this course will work

This diagram broadly outlines the challenges we are currently facing, and what changes are being made to the course. In short:

Asynchronous: virtual attendance is not required. I will create short tutorial videos each week to highlight pertinent concepts. During each class session (T/TH 1:30 - 3:20 PST), I will host an open discussion via zoom,  during which time we will practice various skill through design or programming activities (~1 hr.) and hold virtual office hours (~1 hr.). During each lab session (TH 12:30 - 1:20), your TA will introduce and begin to work through the weekly notebook. All sessions will be recorded, and their video and transcripts will be made available that day. I will also hold zoom office hours weekly, which will not be recorded.

Flexible: Grading policies are designed to be flexible (see below). Work can be resubmitted for full credit. The volume of work has been reduced (while still allowing you to learn the course content).

How to complete work: All student work will be completed on our Observable team site using Observable notebooks. This requires no software installation of downloading, and can be completed using a web browser. We will provide ample support for working with Observable.

My ask of you: Please give me direct feedback early and often -- we are all figuring this out together and for the first time. I will do my best to adjust the course as we learn what works and what doesn't work.


In this course, you will be guided through two types of deliverables to guide and assess your skill development (all completed on Observable):

Notebooks: Each week, you will complete an Observable Notebook, which contains reading, design, and development components (see instructions).

Course Project: You will work in groups throughout the quarter to complete a course project, which will be iteratively developed across multiple stages. See this description for more details.

Find complete assignment details and due dates on the Assignments page.


We want to create an environment for direct and honest feedback in this course. If you are looking for help or want to raise any issues, please let us know as early as possible. We're also figuring out the best way to provide support and build community while distance learning -- please let us know how to be accomplish this!

The primary form of online communication for this course will be our slack channel, which we encourage you to use as a group messaging platform as well as for 1:1 help. Open discussions will happen during the scheduled class time via zoom, and I will also hold weekly office hours at this link. The best way to get questions answered will be on slack, however do not expect immediate assistance, particularly during evenings/weekends.


I do not want this course to be a source of stress -- again, it is an opportunity to pursue your interests, and the more you put into the course, the more you will get out of it. I do realize, however, that grades act as an important incentive to keep motivated and stay on track. As such, I have devised the following grading policies:


Your weekly notebooks are worth one point each -- think of this as Satisfactory, or Not Satisfactory Yet. You will receive formative feedback in the form of comments on your notebook, which you should read to better learn the material. You can make adjustments to your notebook within one week if you have not received full credit.

Your two lowest notebook scores will be dropped.

Course Project

In addition to your notebooks, you will complete a final project across multiple stages. Like your notebooks, you will receive formative feedback on each deliverable, which you can adjust within one week for full credit. 

This course uses the iSchool Standard Grading Scheme, which converts percentage grades into 4.0 grades.


Student Resources
A number of challenges from a variety of directions can affect your ability to bring your optimal attention and energy to a course. Student Resources is a set of links to campus resources that UW makes available to students in trying to mitigate and cope with some of these challenges. We're happy to help you navigate these!

iSchool Technology Requirements
The iSchool has a set of technology requirements for both online and residential students. We highly recommend that students adhere to these standards which are updated annually. Students who do not meet these standards may experience technology problems throughout the course.

iSchool Learning Technologies Support Site
Knowledge base for Canvas, VoiceThread, web conferencing systems, and other learning technologies tools.

UW Libraries
In this course you may be required to access a large number of databases through the Internet. Several of these databases are publicly available, but some are proprietary and access requires authentication through the UW Libraries. Information about logging in to use these databases is available on the Connecting to the Libraries page.

Academic Conduct

Please review the iSchool Academic Policies which cover:

  • Academic and Behavioral Misconduct
  • Academic Integrity
  • Copyright
  • Privacy
  • Concerns About a Course
  • Evaluation of Student Work

The entire idea of using Observable as a platform is that you can build off of the work of others. You should explicitly fork and import notebooks to make clear where the work is coming from. Unless otherwise stated, you are encouraged to use open source materials to build your visualizations. 

UW Privacy Office Statement: "This course is scheduled to run synchronously at your scheduled class time via Zoom. These Zoom class sessions will be recorded. The recording will capture the presenter’s audio, video and computer screen. Student audio and video will be recorded if they share their computer audio and video during the recorded session. The recordings will only be accessible to students enrolled in the course to review materials. These recordings will not be shared with or accessible to the public.

The University and Zoom have FERPA-compliant agreements in place to protect the security and privacy of UW Zoom accounts. Students who do not wish to be recorded should: Change their Zoom screen name to hide any personal identifying information such as their name or UW Net ID, and Not share their computer audio or video during their Zoom sessions."

Course Summary:

Date Details Due