Integrating Data Visualization Tools in the Curriculum

Today’s post comes from guest writer, Rajiv Malkan, professor at Lone Star College in Montgomery, TX, a partner school of the National Convergence Technology Center.

Big Data Analytics and Data Visualization are becoming a norm in business today. Data visualization allows the organization to interact with data to identify business trends and insights. As Internet of Things (IoT) and more network traffic creates more data, understanding and presenting data in a meaningful way are becoming a skill set in much demand.

Data, Data, Data everywhere. But what are we doing with all the data? Are we using the data wisely to get some business insights? Sure, there is a skill set needed to unload all the data into some meaningful format. We teach networking and convergence courses, students understand the traffic flow and can take a snap shot of the data in real time and analyze the data instantly at the router level. But how about a trend based on data collected over a long period of time? Can our students create data visualization charts to help understand their organization management of why they need additional equipment to change something based on the data collected? Are we teaching such analytic skills, even a very low level, in our curriculum? When jobs are demanding such skill sets, then it is critical that we incorporate a few such skills in our curriculum.

According to the Middle Skill Employment Report, published by BATEC National Center of Excellence in Computing and Information Technologies, significant supply and demand gap exist for Intelligence Analyst (Data Engineer). The demand for data-driven decision making has spiked over the past decade and the number of job postings has grown 41% since 2010. Development of a dashboard with visualization tools such as Microsoft PowerBI and Tableau are in high demand as per the report.

Are we teaching our students to incorporate such tools in their presentation? Providing simple skills on how to create data visualization charts based on such tools will provide marketable skills for our students. Incorporating a few labs to analyze data using these tools will assist our students to think critically and provide a mechanism to make sound business decisions based on data and trends. I have started to expose my students to such data visualization tools (PowerBI and Tableau) by incorporating simple labs in my courses.

If you are interested in learning more about how to incorporate such labs in your curriculum, you can contact me at rajiv.malkan@lonestar.edu.

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