With the advent of information overload and the increase popularity in Big Data applications, there is an increasing need to present information in ways in which can be easily assimilated. Information Visualization is a key factor in interfaces and information architecture of contemporary systems. There are currently many opportunities for both academic research as well as well as industrial development on these subjects worldwide and many European calls, such as Horizon 2020 reflect on the opportunities that technologies such as information visualizations can create by offering an overwhelming amount of calls for related proposals. The multidisciplinary nature of information visualization also allows for a wider scope of applications applicable to his discipline.
In a small island nation such as Cyprus (under a million population), which relies on the tertiary sector for the bulk of economic sustainability rather than the primary or secondary sectors there is a growing need for both innovation in new technologies as well as appropriate training opportunities for individuals to practice fields such as information related disciplines. Currently, there does not exist a course on Information Visualization (at any level) within any of the Universities on the Island. Courses related to Information Science are primarily based on a pure computer science curriculum and teach mostly engineering related modules. Utilizing the opportunity for seed funding to create job opportunities, we will undertake the preparation of a proposal to initiate an Information Visualization unit within the Cyprus Higher Education System. This unit will fit into several courses initially such as Information Studies or Interaction Design courses, with the opportunity of expansion to further curriculum or as a stand-alone course.
In order to provide a concrete and sustainable business model as well as an appropriate curriculum, we propose a knowledge transfer between Malta and Cyprus. Malta, being a small nation also with a successful record of courses, including a Masters by Research, is a suitable model to imitate in establishing a similar plan of studies within Cyprus. Furthermore, the University of Malta recently redesigned its Bachelor programme in Library Information and Archive sciences into a Bachelor in Knowledge and Information Management offering also a study unit on Information Visualization.
The scientific mission included Dr. Fernando Loizides visiting Dr. Milena Dobreva, in order to take part in interviews with individual staff members and work alongside Dr. Dobreva in order to establish a suitable road-map for the establishment of a suitable Information Visualization module.
The STSM produced three key outcomes:
- Identified opportunities for collaboration in teaching and research between Cyprus and Malta. This included starting the workings for an Erasmus agreement possibility for staff and perhaps student exchange.
- Produced a Knowledge Transfer of curriculum structure from Malta to Cyprus. The information visualization module that is being established in Malta will now be advised by information from a course that was undertaken at the Cyprus University of Technology on Information Architecture (which contained more technical material). Likewise, Dr Loizides will be receiving the material which is being prepared by the Maltese side and focuses on a ground up approach from a design background.
- Dr Loizides also successfully attended the COST meeting planned to be held in Malta on 3-4 September 2015 which will allowed him to gather feedback from other participants in the Action on the matter of creating material and a course for information visualization. This is being currently expanded to include more participants and will produce a white paper or a publication based on the findings.
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