Frequently Asked Questions

Course and Structure

Q: Will I get actual credit for taking the course?

The course can be taken for three Indiana University credits as part of the Online Data Science Program, as part of the Information and Library Science M.S. program, and as part of the online Data Science M.S. Program offered by the School of Informatics and Computing. Students seeking enrollment information should contact the data science program at 812-856-5953 or

Q: What is the difference between the self-paced and concurrent versions of the course?

The difference between the self-directed and the concurrent versions of the course is the level of commitment and participation expected from students in both versions of the course. The self-directed version provides the course materials and basic assignments to help introduce students to the concepts of information visualization at their own pace, which they may tailor to their specific aims and needs; instructors do not actively engage in this course, but will work with students that reach out for help.

The concurrent version of the course is community driven and run synchronously with the IU for-credit versions of the course for 16 weeks. Students taking the course for credit and for free have the same basic expectations for weekly homework, exams, participation in discussions and peer reviews, and the opportunity to work on group project. Students that complete the course with at least a final grade of 80% will receive a certificate of completion and digital badge for participation.

Q: How much does it cost to take the course?

Both the self-paced and concurrent versions of the course are free for anyone who does not take the course for credit through one of Indiana University's Masters of Science or Online Certificate Programs. All of the software and services required for the course are free. Throughout the entirety of this course we will use open-source software and/or freely available services to complete the work required to obtain a letter of accomplishment and digital badge.

Q: What computer system do I need for the course?

Most computers running either Linux, Windows NT, 2000, Vista, 7, or Mac OSX 10.4 or later will work fine. The system requirements for the three programs (Sci2, Gephi, and Inkscape) used in this course varies. However, computers with a 1GHz processor and at least 256MB of RAM should suffice, but faster machines with more memory will run the programs more smoothly.

Q: Will I get a letter of accomplishment after completing this class?

Yes. Participants who successfully complete the course will receive both a letter of accomplishment and badge from the Cyberinfrastructure for Network Science Center at IU.

Q: I registered late. Can I still get a letter and badge?

Yes. As long as you complete the mid-term and final exam by the dates listed in the course schedule, and earn at least 80% of all available points, you will receive a letter and badge.

Q: I do not live in the U.S. Can I still sign up for the course?

Yes! The course is open to participants from around the world.

Q: What are the terms and conditions for my participation in the course?

Participants are subject to the Terms of Use for the IVMOOC, as well as Canvas’s terms of service. In addition, if you use Twitter as part of your participation, you will need to agree to their Terms of Service as well.

Q: What is the format of the course?

The course consists of a theoretical component and a hands-on component. The video lectures for the theory component explain the topic covered that week and the hands-on video tutorials cover tools and workflows for the same topic. The theory component and the hands-on component are stand alone. Participants can watch whichever section they are more interested in first, and then review the other section. After the theory videos, there is a self-assessment, and after the hands-on videos there is a homework that needs to be submitted for review.

Q: May I contact the Instructor or Teaching Assistants?

Yes, students may contact Instructors and Teaching Assistants in the course. The discussion forums are the most appropriate venue for questions about the course, because it allows other students to see common questions and responses from TAs and instructors in the course. The instructors and teaching assistants will monitor the discussion forums and try to respond to the questions that have gone unanswered by other students; in many cases, response from other participants and peers will be adequate and faster. Email should be used as a last resort, in particular, to let instructors know problems with exams and questions about grades and academic dishonesty.

Q: Will I need a Twitter account to participate in this course?

To get the most out of this course you will need to have a Twitter account. To create a Twitter account, see

Q: I have a disability (visual/hearing etc.) Can I take the course?

In most cases, the answer is yes. We provide slides for all lectures and have made every effort to make the content accessible. However, because this is an information visualization course that relies on visual image comparisons, some of the content cannot by its nature be made accessible for print-disabled users.

Q: I have a busy schedule this spring. Can I still take the course?

The course does require about 8 hours per week of work, and the homework assignments will be submitted each week. Badges and letters of accomplishment require a passing score. If you are not interested in the badges or letter of accomplishment, please register for the self-paced version of the IVMOOC.

Course Content

Q: How can I learn more about the course content?

Please watch the teaser on the IVMOOC site and Katy Börner's welcome video on the Canvas homepage.

Q: I do not have access to YouTube. Is there another way to watch the course videos?

Adding the letters "ss" in front of "youtube" in the video URL will take you to a download page where you can download the video at various resolutions (i.e., Alternatively, you can download a .zip file containing all course videos here (4.1 GB).

Q: Will the slides be available in addition to the videos?

Yes, all lecture slides are made available and links to relevant online documentation are provided when appropriate.

Q: How do I turn on closed captioning, and can I change the appearance of the text?

To turn on closed captioning, click the "CC" button at the bottom of the YouTube video frame. To change the appearance of the text, click the "Settings" button inside the "CC" menu and select from the options provided.

Screen shot demonstrating how to access closed captioning on YouTube Videos

Q: Can I speed up the videos to save time?

Yes. To speed up the videos, you first have to upgrade to the YouTube HTML5 Video Player. Go to and click "Join the HTML5 Trial." Now when you click the "Settings" button at the bottom of the YouTube video frame, you'll get a second column of options that allow you to adjust the speed of the video.

Q: Where do I find due dates for course projects?

All due dates are listed on the course schedule site. We highly recommend that you set aside a dedicated time slot each week to complete the work for that week.

Important: Make sure you complete all material, self-assessments, and homework from the proceeding weeks before taking both the Mid-term and Final exams.

The Mid-term exam becomes available on February 9, 6a EST. The Mid-term has to be submitted by February 15, 8pm EST.

The Final Exam becomes available on March 1, 6a EST. The Final exam must be submitted by March 7, 8pm EST.


Q: Do I need an Indiana University login or account to access the Canvas?

Yes, to login and access the Canvas learning management system, all students will use the Central Authentication Server to confirm enrollment and access the course materials and activities.Students enrolled for IU credits and any free students who indicate their affiliation with IU at registration will need to use their current IU username and password to access Canvas. Students taking the course for free, use the login information that was emailed to you by IU's University Information Technology Services after you registered for the IVMOOC.

Q: Can I send another IVMOOC student a message?

If you would like to send your contact information or a message to an individual student in the MOOC, you can do so by viewing their profile page and clicking on the contact tab at the top of the profile.

Client Work

Q: I'm interested in working with clients. Where can I get information about the projects that course participants will potentially work on?

Every client has a description on the IVMOOC Client Project page and will have a page on the Canvas navigation bar. In the client profile you will be able to find a description of the project and directions on how to communicate with each client. You can communicate with other groups working on a client project and the client themselves by visiting the other student groups created for a project and contacting those group leaders.

Q: How do I let a client know that I am interested in working on their project?

You do not actually need to inform the client that you will be working on their project. You can simply begin working with the other members of your group. You can post your questions for each other and the client on the client sub-forum, linked from the client profile.

Q: How do I create a group in Canvas?

Creating and joining a group on Canvas is easy. You will first need to navigate to To create a group, click on the “+ Groups” link on the upper right side of the page at the top of the Groups tab to name and set the permissions for your group. Try to come up with a unique and original group name that will help your group standout to others.

We encourage group membership to remain open. From there you will see the group you created added below in the menu list. Visit group’s website by right clicking on the gear icon and the visit group webpage menu item. If you manage or are a member of the group, add a wikipage or an announcement with a description of your group, such as the client project you will be working on and a list of the competencies needed by other students to join.

Q: What is the best method to communicate with your group members?

Once you join a group, the best way to communicate is to either post a message on your group page or find your group members in the Canvas chat arena (look for "Chat" in the left-hand menu). You may also exchange emails and other contact information to set up a regular time for Google hangouts or Canvas chats to facilitate cooperation on your assignments and final project.

Q: How do I join a group?

From the list of groups you can click on the group name to view more information about the group. At the top of the group description there will be a link to join the group. You will have to be added by the manager of that group. Groups can have no more than five students. Please do not sign up for multiple groups.

Q: How do I leave my group once I have joined?

From the group description page there will be a link that says "Unsubscribe from this Group." Click on this link and you will leave the group.

Tools and Resources

Q: What version of Sci2 is being used in this course?

Version 1.1 beta was used for the workflows discussed in the Visual Insights textbook that accompanies this course. Starting Spring 2016, version 1.2 beta is used in the IVMOOC and you are recommended to download this version from the Sci2 web site.

Q: How do I reset my password for Sci2?

To change your password for Sci2 you will have to use the password recovery page:

Q: Where can I find more information about the various tools we will be using in this course?


Class starts on January 9, 2018.