Knowledge Visualization for Learning in Higher Education Contexts: Systemizing the Field


  • Christian Spletter University of St. Gallen, St. Gallen, Switzerland
  • Martin Eppler University of St. Gallen, St. Gallen, Switzerland



Higher Education, Knowledge Visualization, Knowledge Management, Lifelong Learning, Segmentation Approach


In contexts of higher learning, students must be supported effectively in developing their knowledge, skills, and competencies. Thus, faculty members (incl. lecturers and administrators) are faced with the management task to organize and align innovative teaching and learning formats. As we know from research, the use of knowledge visualization is both a facilitating tool for cognitive processing and learning itself, and for strategic decision-making processes within organizations. However, the literature on the types of (IT-enabled) knowledge visualization for learning in higher education contexts is highly fragmented and dispersed and includes different branches for researchers and practitioners. This makes it difficult to achieve an overview and find systematic and consistent visual approaches along students’ learning paths. By highlighting the role of knowledge visualization to support organizing innovative teaching and learning, we provide a systematic, structured overview of such approaches. The goal of this paper is thus to structure the field of knowledge visualization for lifelong and university-based learning based on seminal papers. For this purpose, we present a segmentation approach with six areas to analyse the role of knowledge visualization for learning in higher education contexts, namely: Visualizing Learning Offers (e.g., Curriculum Visualization Tools), Visual Learning Environments (e.g., Metaverse), Learning Content Visualization (e.g., Visual Variation Patterns), Visual Techniques for Learning (e.g., Concept Mapping), Visual Learning Analytics (e.g., Learner Dashboards), and Visualizing Learning Outcomes (e.g., Digital Course Badges). Based on systemizing key concepts, our paper concludes with promising future research avenues for each of the six areas, as well as for the domain of knowledge visualization for higher learning itself. We conclude with specific ideas how the area of visualizing learning offers can act as a spearhead for empirical research (and practice transfer) in the knowledge visualization domain. This should help practitioners and researchers from higher education contexts who consider lifelong learning as knowledge management task.