Using data correctly can keep us abreast of what is happening now and predict future trends. One of the problems of using date is presenting it in a way that people can understand. My guest today is a data visualization expert, author, and speaker who specializes in EdTech. Dr. Kristen Sosulski is the author of Data Visualization Made Simple: Insights Into Becoming Visual and an Associate Professor of Information Systems at New York University’s Stern School of Business.

She is here today to talk about what EdTech really is and the role of technology in learning. She also talks about her speciality of data visualization and the role it plays in education, business and society. We even discuss how she stays organized and grounded with a busy schedule.

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Show Notes

  • [03:19] Kristen learned how to code during the .com era.
  • [03:38] She started working at a new media lab that was focused on technology while she was continuing her education.
  • [03:52] She thought using technology to help people learn was such a shift from her business background.
  • [04:02] Educational technology is the study and practice of facilitating learning and improving learner performance by using technological resources.
  • [04:41] She received a Masters of Instructional Technology from Columbia University then a second Master’s and then a Doctorate.
  • [05:41] The technology tools used in learning need to be designed in a way that allow for learning.
  • [06:46] She worked while she was earning her degrees the entire process took about nine years, but she was able to apply her knowledge to her work experience.
  • [07:15] The goal of EdTech is to add components that will best facilitate learning.
  • [09:01] One of the best skills that an educational technologist needs is the ability to wireframe and present their ideas in a concrete form. Project management and meeting deadlines is also very important. Communicating why certain design decisions have been made is also important.
  • [11:01] Kristen’s book data visualization made simple is a book for anyone. She explains the core function of how to work with data.
  • [12:49] A big takeaway of the book is not to make your audience work too hard.
  • [14:10] Data visualization is the ability to help tell stories. First it’s a tool to communicate. It can show cause and effect or clarify ideas.
  • [15:42] Data can be transformed into information such as trends, product, sales or displays. A great example are dashboards.
  • [16:52] Data doesn’t have to only be from the past, we can show what is happening in the present. We can also make predictions for the future with data.
  • [18:07] Everyone needs the opportunity to create data-driven goals and to collect new data.
  • [18:36] Modeling the types of behaviors that you want to see in an organization is the best way to build a culture of use.
  • [19:50] Training around visualization and the best way to use this technique are super important.
  • [24:47] Challenges in EdTech include the ability to slow down and give the attention needed to the task at hand.
  • [25:51] Have the confidence to show your work at a stage when it still isn’t perfect. Be open to accepting feedback.
  • [28:32] The technology is always changing so Kristen is always learning. There are always new programs in software challenges that need to be learned.
  • [29:32] It’s great to have an understanding of programming, but you don’t have to code to be a data visualization expert.
  • [30:19] Kristen likes to incorporate different types of data graphics into her work. She creates multivariate displays by using a few lines of code, because it is much simpler than using a ready-made solution like Tableau.
  • [31:54] Business analytics has recently really exploded. This is a great opportunity for data scientists and learning scientists to model data and improve their practices.
  • [33:50] One of the things throughout her career that Kristen has learned is how she learns. She learns best by teaching others and simplifying the process. She also needs to immerse herself in the topic.
  • [36:57] When we learn we really want to balance all of the systems, we don’t want to overload audio or visual etc.
  • [37:39] Allowing for time and slowing down even in your data of presentations is critical.
  • [38:01] Kristen’s son keeps her grounded.
  • [38:32] Being more efficient with her time is another thing that helps keep her grounded. When she goes home it’s about being a mom.
  • [40:06] Exercise and movement or running or a barre class are some of the ways that Kristen uses to keep stress at bay. Face time also helps mitigate stress.
  • [41:21] One of the tools she likes to use is Google Calendar. She also keeps and shares floating agendas with her team.
  • [43:10] There’s a huge opportunity in organizations right now to lead with visualization.

Links and Resources:


Data Visualization Made Simple: Insights Into Becoming Visual

Kristen Sosulski

Kristen Sosulski on LinkedIn

@sosulski on Twitter