Category Archives: Tableau for Teaching

Conversations with Impact – the importance of stories

I feel quite lucky to be working where I work. One of the things I like about working at a university is having access to a number of learning opportunities, be it credit or not-for-credit courses, or even 1 or 2 hour sessions on anything. I love learning so it’s a field day for me when I get to attend these courses or events.

Conversations with Impact

by Gareth Williams. Cuba - Havana Public Artwork. https://www.flickr.com/photos/gareth1953/15377856386/

by Gareth Williams. Cuba – Havana Public Artwork. https://www.flickr.com/photos/gareth1953/15377856386/

One session I recently attended was “Conversations With Impact”. Ms. Joanna Piros,a senior consultant with Counterpoint Communications and also faculty at UBC Sauder School of Business’s Executive Education program, was the one who delivered the one hour session.

At the beginning of the session, Ms. Piros emphasized three (3) key statements about conversations:
1. All communication is strategic
2. You must frame others before you frame yourself (I didn’t know what media framing meant before I attended this session)
3. You must tell stories

This definitely struck a chord with me because one of the courses I teach, Visual Analytics with Tableau, also revolves around telling stories with data.
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Showing Header for Text Table with Single Measure in Tableau

I had a question from one of my students tonight about how to show the header for text table with a single measure. It’s not super straightforward to do this in Tableau. You can’t simply to go the measure pill and show the header (because it doesn’t have it).

Let’s recreate the default Tableau behavior first, using Superstore Sales.
1. Double click on a dimension, for example, Product Category
2. Double click on a measure, for example, Sales

What you will get is something like this:

default behavior - no header

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Looking for someone to jumpstart your visual analytics project or prototype?

Looking for someone to jumpstart your visual analytics project or prototype?

At BCIT, we have been offering a course on Visual Analytics using Tableau to Part Time Studies students. This course is offered three terms:

  • Winter (January to March/April)
  • Spring (April to June/July)
  • Fall (September to December)

Many students who register for Part Time Studies are working professionals who are taking courses to complete additional certificates/diplomas, or for professional development, or just plain curious.

Students enrolled in the COMP 2256 class learn visual best practices, some data analysis, and visualization using Tableau Desktop. Part of this twelve (12) week course is a term project which requires data analysis and visualization around a topic of their choice. They will need to submit a series of dashboards and a final project report at the end of the term.

The project requires the students to either:

  1. look for a sponsor (could be their employer, a non-profit organization, etc) for their visual analytics project, to be presented to their peers at the end of the term
  2. look for a number of sizable public data sets that they’re interested in, and essentially create dashboards that will support their story

I encourage students to, as much as possible, choose #1. This is as “real world” as it gets. However, looking for a sponsor can become tricky and time consuming for already-working professionals, so I am hoping I can help match up my students to your projects.

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Do you know how DATES work in Tableau? Understanding Continuous vs Discrete Dates

Do you know how dates work in Tableau? It could be tricky, but once you get a handle on it, it can make your Tableau life much simpler.

The first step to understanding dates in Tableau is understanding the concept of discrete and continuous first. These are two very important concepts in Tableau that, if not clearly understood, can definitely cause a lot of confusion (and headaches). It can make you think you’re getting unexpected vizzes or behavior from the application, and that it’s not doing what it’s supposed to do.

A quick Google search lands us the definitions for these two terms:

discrete – individually separate and distinct
continuous – forming an unbroken whole; without interruption

Let’s tie these two terms back to Tableau:

Discrete Continuous
definition: individually separate and distinct definition: forming an unbroken whole; without interruption
blue pill green pill
blue pill green pill
gives you headers gives you axes

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Teaching Tableau? Learning Tableau? Here are some ideas.

I teach a few courses at BCIT and Tableau is one of them. We have created and, so far, successfully run our Tableau Course for the last 5 terms. We started out by making it a 6-week, 1.5 credit course. However students provided us feedback and many of them suggested it felt rushed and would prefer a longer duration, so in the recent terms we’ve decided to make it a full-blown 12-week, 6 credit course. This course is fast becoming one of our popular courses, catering 15-20 students per section. Next term we are running two sections. We may look at running more in the future, if the demand keeps up.

The students taking this course have also come from a wide range of backgrounds – although many of them are working professionals looking to expand their analytics exposure, or even looking to change careers. We’ve had students with backgrounds in accounting, hotel management, retail, IT, healthcare, banking and finance, insurance, etc.

The two highest points for me in this course are the second and last classes.

Flickr. Photo by Black Zack - Surprise Eggs -   https://www.flickr.com/photos/blackzack00/10205948476

Flickr. Photo by Black Zack – Surprise Eggs –
https://www.flickr.com/photos/blackzack00/10205948476

The second class is when I introduce Tableau to them. The look of amazement in each student when they see and experience Tableau for the first time is priceless. I am sure I can relate; when I first saw Tableau, it was like magic.

In the last class, the students get to do final presentations.

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