Ark is an international education organization, with 34 schools in the United Kingdom and one in Delhi, India. Ark Schools is committed to the idea that “all children deserve a great education,” accepting children from unconventional economic and educational backgrounds. Leaders at Ark use data to determine program success and track student progress. The old process of compiling relevant data and building dashboards took months of effort from several departments. In video 2, Joshua Perry, Director of Program Support speaks about how Ark needed a system that was fast and flexible, so that teachers and leaders could use the data to affect daily decisions. To solve this need, Ark established a browser-based system on Tableau Server, where users can access analytics from almost anywhere. In video 1, Joshua describes how they built their “governor dashboard” in 2 minutes and 22 seconds and it continues to be a key visualization across the organization. Users can see a holistic view of the network of schools or drill down into an individual school to identify areas of opportunity or improvement.
Tableau: What’s your data storage situation and how does Tableau fit in? Joshua Perry, Director of Program Support: Our team has for many years now built and maintained systems that our schools use to understand data. We've improved and refined some of the techniques. But, essentially we have a data warehouse that takes data from all of our schools, from multiple systems. So we have something we call our governor dashboard and it's a key visualization within Ark. It shows people progress and attainment over time and our governing bodies and senior leaders use it to understand how our schools are doing. Now when we first built that, we built it in the way that we always used to build products and it took us around a month to build it. That's a month of elapsed time, but probably about a month of effort time when you add up all the people that contributed to that process. But the eureka moment for us was when we tried to recreate that in Tableau. And we have ourselves on video doing it and it took us 2 minutes and 22 seconds. Tableau: That’s a dramatic difference. Joshua: If we can create visualizations in Tableau it's so much quicker, it's so much faster, and it will push us towards the best practice in what a report should look like, what will actually get great results from the users, and a better understanding of what that data is telling people. You're not just looking at it for fun. You're not just looking at it to create pretty pictures. You're looking at it to make different management decisions. Now why am I talking about that in the context of Tableau? It's because the visualization aspect of Tableau over what traditional tools have been able to provide in data—where there's much more tabular data—is that it just gets you to the conclusion much faster, and therefore what action you should take. And I think that's been hugely valuable to us, but I also think it's something we can bring to the wider education sector.