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Visit – Visualization And Information Technology A Multi Tier System For Interdisciplinary Experiences In Data Collection And Visualization

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2007 Annual Conference & Exposition


Honolulu, Hawaii

Publication Date

June 24, 2007

Start Date

June 24, 2007

End Date

June 27, 2007



Conference Session

IT-based Instructional Technologies

Tagged Division

Information Systems

Page Count


Page Numbers

12.1590.1 - 12.1590.10



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Paper Authors

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Judith Challinger California State University, Chico

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Rachael Teasdale California State University, Chico

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NOTE: The first page of text has been automatically extracted and included below in lieu of an abstract

VisIT - Visualization and Information Technology - A Multi-tier System for Interdisciplinary Experiences in Data Collection and Visualization


Collaboration on interdisciplinary teams is an important experience for computer science students, and one that is too rarely available. Methods for data collection in the field and subsequent graphing and analysis are important skills for students in many different scientific disciplines. This paper presents a project currently underway by computer science and environmental science faculty at the California State University, Chico to address these needs. A multi-tier system is being developed to serve as a repository for data collected in the field by environmental science students, facilitate graphing and analysis of data, and provide a platform for interdisciplinary teams of students to collaborate on both software development and data analysis tasks.


In 2005, Microsoft Research Cambridge brought together an international panel of scientists for the Towards 2020 Science workshop.1 Their goal was to explore the increasing synergy between computing and the sciences, and to map out the goals and challenges ahead in the next fifteen years. One key challenge identified is the “need for better collaboration between computer scientists and other scientists…”

In order to meet this challenge, scientists must be exposed to interdisciplinary experiences during their formative years. The approach taken should benefit both the students of the computing sciences, and the students of the discipline with which they are collaborating. A Web-based system currently under development is intended to serve as a unifying focus for these interdisciplinary experiences.

VisIT, short for Visualization and Information Technology, is a multi-tier software platform that supports the establishment of projects with associated data dictionaries and graphing profiles. A pluggable architecture allows the addition of customized software for data analysis and visualization. The approach is Web-based and consists of a Linux server running the Apache HTTP server, Apache Tomcat servlet container, and MySQL. Java Servlet technology is used to provide the interface necessary to set up data repository and graphing projects. Users access the system using a Web browser. Plans to add support for mobile devices utilizing Java ME are underway. See figure 1 for a deployment diagram.

Pedagogical Applications

Our long-term goal is to support a variety of learning paradigms with VisIT. During the spring 2006 semester a senior-level computer science student built a simple prototype demonstrating the Web-based interface to a database and visualization framework. This prototype served as the basis of discussion among faculty of multiple disciplines. Three separate approaches were identified: the use of technology such as VisIT in a lower-division natural science course, the

Challinger, J., & Teasdale, R. (2007, June), Visit – Visualization And Information Technology A Multi Tier System For Interdisciplinary Experiences In Data Collection And Visualization Paper presented at 2007 Annual Conference & Exposition, Honolulu, Hawaii. 10.18260/1-2--2338

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