Application of pictograms and images to transfer concepts and thoughts has a very long history, which in addition to facilitating the communication, significantly helps to record and maintain human thoughts as pictographic and idiographic symbols. The ability of humans to receive information from the environment using the visual sense is not limited to signs and symptoms. By emphasizing the present-day human being in providing information, it is based on the study and recognition of these symbols and their ability to understand them.
The main objective of today’s education is not to have access to more data. In fact, one of the main challenges of students is to mean the concepts they encounter, and absorb all the data purposefully. Hence, communication needs new approaches (
Visualization, in fact, is a new approach, which facilitates data-based decision-making more rapidly and accurately with less need for knowledge and education (in order to understand the data) and results in better data presentation, and consequently, effective data utilization. Based on this method, by the application of visual processes in data presentation, the users can have better understanding of the provided information, and may optimally recover their personal data. Data visualization skills are more important in recent years, and therefore, open a new chapter in visualization of data and computer-based data display (
2). Data visualization systems benefit from human visual perception capabilities by the compression of a huge amount of textual data through controllable visualization. In this method, owing to high capacity of image-based data transfer, understanding and learning abilities of the user are improved through the visualization of data. In addition, a huge amount of data is compressively changed into image formats with lower sizes and higher efficacy ( 3). Providing better conditions for the user to analyze data and thoughts are among the main objectives of using technologies and methods of visualization. Data visualization should not be mistaken with the presentation of simple images and pictures. By The visualization process transfers, data transferred to the user more effectively, which improves his/her understanding about the concepts ( 4).
The visualization can be applied in educational processes among which virtual education is a clear example. Since the basis of virtual education is the technological approaches, virtualization can be highly applicable. Virtualization, owing to its lexical meaning, is a type of illustration or picturing the data in order to be understandable and presumable for the audiences; although its concept is beyond the pictures. Many problems and challenges dealing with human in today’s world can simply be administrated using virtualization; even in some cases, the virtualization is the only available solution (
Shahbeigi and Nazari in a study indicated that the purpose of education to recover knowledge is recently changed based on the particular conditions of each individual. Virtual education, as a relatively emerging method, seriously looks for this purpose. Although this type of education provides unique occasions for individuals via modern media such as internet, obstacles and problems are inevitable (
Kheyrandish indicated that the educational tools and methods are evolving in such a way that everyone can start learning in any specified time and place (
Doroudi and Soleimani Nejad indicated the significant role of visual communication in learning conceptual data, and stated that many conceptual data are transmissible through positive and effective interactions between the individuals. This useful method is now specifically available in digital environments using particular methods and technologies in order to help the users. In this method, basic skills such as data visualization, computer graphics, understanding the basics of arts, and particularly intellectual creativity are required to transfer data appropriately using data visualization processes. In fact, using this method, data visualization can be performed more rapidly and reliably; therefore, virtual environment is a suitable arena for the emergence of visualization applications (
Keim attended a web-based distant education course and developed a questionnaire. He concluded that four factors of feedback and important related services could be explained through Korean culture. By understanding the Korean conservative cultural effect, teachers can seek a specific required layout based on feedbacks and service-related factors, and even can look for the texts regarding web-based distance learning systems; however, the strategy is successful (
Results of a study by Liao et al., showed that the virtual laboratories to teach scientific materials at school could promote the students following the employment of attractive learning environments by illustrating figures and images in 2D format. On the other hand, results of their study indicated that improving virtual laboratories from two points: (1) Virtual laboratory integration; (2) the introduction of 3D measurement tools for virtual laboratories can greatly increase the reality and attractiveness of the test. In addition to helping empirical assignments, the virtual lab helps students understand better the scientific processes and useful rules. It also teaches students how to turn knowledge into action (
Spencen believes that the virtualization is a new approach through which the process of decision-making performs more rapidly and accurately with less cognitive efforts (
Sadeghi stated that with the introduction of virtual reality, the importance of data visualization is highlighted. The main application of virtual reality is in medical practices as well as active education of anatomy and physiology for medical students. Using this system, the students can have effective and desirable learning in a stimulated 3D environment. By the application of virtual reality in surgery training systems, to enhance the skill level of medical student, a certain case can be practiced virtually for thousands of times. Using this system and stimulating surgery environments, thousands of surgical cases can be repeated consecutively in a long time. The basis of this technology is realized by data visualization (
Nikravesh and Jalali in an experimental study using virtual lessons, and the atlases prepared in this way were asked to use a 60-person class in anatomy of the head and neck to create virtualized lessons. While the same class was not given to such a license, the impact of virtual education as a kind of complementary and non-attendance in the target group at the end of the course and with the design of the same exam questions based on a single referenced evaluation. By comparing the scores of the two distinct groups that the virtual training group had significantly higher grades than the second group (
Naderifar et al. showed that electronic learning (e-learning), alongside its wide range of applications and benefits, has some challenges such as less employment by the teachers due to lack of knowledge about its efficacy, diminution of teacher’s role, lack of expertise in using it, fear of using it, certain cultural beliefs, and inadequate references. Successful e-learning in medical education requires infrastructures and standards (
In a study by Hakimzadeh and Afandideh, the quality of e-learning course was at a relatively favorable level according to MSc students and teachers of medical education department (
In recent years, e-learning technology and educational technology resources in the form of audiovisual materials assisted the traditional education in data transfer rate, learning, and ease of access. The contribution of these educational technologies to medical education disciplines was more than other disciplines. Introduction of information technology was associated with the evolution both in hardware (equipment) and software (programs and resources) structures, to such an extent that they were continuously applied in most of the applied fields.
Following the evolution in e-learning, virtual education was quickly overwhelmed at a wider level without spatial and temporal constraints. In virtual education technologies, in addition to hardware and software structures, the communication infrastructure plays a more significant role. By the application of this technology in education, in addition to hardware, software, and communication infrastructures, the educational resources were the next most important aspect. This important aspect, by the help of data visualization, was introduced as an important indicator of virtual education and provided a new approach of virtual education to academic environments, particularly medical fields and related disciplines. Since medical resources are mainly graphic-based, the need for picturizing resources such as designing logos, frames, tapes, menus, and other items seem necessary. To implement virtual education in medical resources, if data visualization is performed at higher levels and qualities, the data visualization methods and technologies can help the educational system to improve communication with the learners and let them have better understanding of provided data and information using such facilities.
Visualization, with the help of presentation methods and useful information for the audience, provides the right environment for interaction and exchange of information. Because the value of information depends on its beneficial use, using appropriate methods in data visualization, maintaining the value of information is a good ground for beneficial education and better learning in students. The above issues emphasize the need for the current study.
The Virtual Medical School of Shahid Behshti University of Medical Sciences already admits students at Master’s degree owing to a hypothesis that formatting and picturizing software items and medical resources data can provide suitable conditions for better learning and understanding in virtual education. The current study aimed at evaluating the effect of data visualization on virtual education of medical sciences in order to determine to what extent the visualization of data can increase productivity, rate of data transfer, learning, and ease of access to data among students and teachers of Virtual Medical School of the affiliated university.