In 2010, Jamie learned about Tableau through Gartner’s Magic Quadrant. She downloaded the free trial and familiarized herself with the software using the many online resources available on the Tableau website. Through these, she found Tableau easy to learn and quite suitable for the Business Analytics module that she was teaching.
The fact that Tableau offered free licensing for academic use was a huge draw for Jamie. Another reason was that Tableau can be installed directly onto a desktop computer without any need for additional hardware or software.
She felt that Tableau’s intuitive design and drag-and-drop usability allow students to work with data with confidence. Furthermore, the rich learning resources and sample dashboards available on Tableau’s website can be used immediately in the classroom.
Positive feedback from students
Currently, students in Jamie’s classes learn to use Tableau Desktop. They form project groups and use Tableau to analyze data from www.data.gov.sg, a portal that provides access to publicly available data published by the Singapore Government. Each group is tasked to create dashboards that can help to answer a business question or highlight a business opportunity working with a selected dataset from the site.
Jamie said: “We have been able to adjust the syllabus to allow for a more practical approach using Tableau as it is easy to use and understand. Since introducing our students to Tableau, we have noticed that they are more confident in analyzing data sets. Their ability to grasp theoretical concepts on Online Analytical Processing (OLAP) has also improved as they can now relate them to the user interface of Tableau Desktop.”
"We have gotten requests from students asking for more lessons to help them deepen their skills in Tableau, as they see it as an essential tool for careers in data analytics."
According to feedback, students find Tableau fun and easy to use. They like the fact that Tableau allows them to explore the many ways in which data can be mined, analyzed, and understood. Most feel that the analytics skills they have acquired from using Tableau will be relevant and useful in their careers in the future.
“The students have also said that they see the importance of visualizations in helping them understand large amounts of data. In fact, we have gotten requests from students asking for more lessons to help them deepen their skills in Tableau software, as they see it as an essential tool for careers in data analytics,” she added.
Growing interest in data
With growing interest in data analytics, Ngee Ann has further extended the Business Analytics module to students in the Diploma in Business Studies course, making it possible for these business students to get an early exposure to data analytics. The module has been made available to over 500 students for the 2015 academic year. This is more than double the number in 2014. The number of teaching staff has also increased to cater to the rise in number of students taking the module.
Finally, Jamie recommends Tableau to aspiring data analysts and students. She suggests that first-time users make full use of the readily available online resources on the Tableau website. She believes that anyone will be able to learn how to use the software as its design is intuitive, and there are many helpful and readily available tutorials online.