Tableau: Could you tell us more about this assignment and how the students are working with the dataset?
Mads: They are required to use Tableau to give state of the union of the superstore. Actually the superstore dataset itself is in an Excel format and I’ve been allowing the students to use both Excel and Tableau for this exercise, but none of them has been using Excel so far. I don’t want to impose anything on my students and I give them the freedom to choose the tool they would like for the assignment and so far they have been using Tableau.
In addition to the state of the union, they are also required to do a presentation which is business related and which could be something they would have to present in front of a board of directors, for example. They work with the data, get some insights out of it and then show them on a dashboard where they draw the attention of the management on specific areas where they should focus on in the near future. In that sense, I’m trying to switch from a pure Business Intelligence course to a more Business way of looking at things, which is what the students will have to deal with once they graduate.
Tableau: What are the benefits to your students, in general terms, of using Tableau in your course?
Mads: The main learning points for the students are that they can have a look and feel of what Business Intelligence front-end is and they can have a better understanding of how it is to work with a contemporary Business Intelligence tool. They also get an overview of how it works within a Business Intelligence architecture, which is basically a standard Kimball architecture that I’m teaching, and last but not least they get a good idea of what rapid-fire or self-service Business Intelligence is, which is very important.
Tableau: How long was the learning process and how long did it take you to integrate Tableau in your course?
Mads: When I first used Tableau, I think I spent an afternoon to get an idea of the tool and after that I was convinced this was the right tool for me. Then I might have spent a couple more days playing with the tool and got to the point where I was convinced that it would fit perfectly in my courses. Integrating it in my syllabus was not hard and I think the main reason for that was that I did not have to prepare any datasets and I was simply using the samples provided by Tableau.
Tableau: What has been your biggest challenge in teaching Tableau?
Mads: Actually what I’ve tried to do, is to invite someone from Tableau to introduce the product to my students and the main reason behind that is to break the long stream of work from me. So I can’t say that I’ve had any difficulties teaching Tableau and I’m using it in a very easy way. Tableau allows me to introduce the concept of dimensions and measures in a far easier way than it’s done in a textbook.