Jim Dehner 

 Tableau Visionary and Ambassador

Tableau How to’s,  Use Cases, and Forums Questions

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Understanding and working with data is an essential skill today – you knew that! So, what can we do to prepare our middle and high-school-age children for careers in data?  

How would you start-

Over the past 2 years, we have been conducting a pilot program to identify what was needed, and how that fits into existing Tableau Academic and scholastic programs, and build out the missing pieces.  Here are examples of a pilot program that is currently ongoing at 2 schools.  

The first is with a 7/8th grade elective math with a focus on data literacy – The course met 2 times per week and the Tableau unit was 5 total classroom sessions.  The other is with a group of high school seniors – the teacher has been using Tableau for several years in his senior AP Statistics another Data Analytics course.  Each is semester-long. 


Software: Tableau Academic Program


Through the Academic program  Tableau Academic, Tableau provides all the student and teacher software needed at no charge to the school or student.  That software includes licenses for Tableau, Tableau Prep, and the e-learning platform.   The 7/8th grade teacher used the Bulk Lab License option, and the high school used the Student Bulk license Tableau for Teaching . In the 7/8th situation, school IT employees installed Tableau on each student’s computer – found that to be time-consuming.  At the senior high students installed the software in a teacher lead session.  

For future programs, the recommendation would be to use the Tableau Cloud option under the academic program.  The option provides all the security needed and is easier to implement.


Teacher Tableau Training:


Each of the teachers was previously a Tableau user so initial Tableau training was not an issue. For teachers new to Tableau,  I would recommend the Tableau Training Trailhead at https://trailhead.salesforce.com/content/learn/trails/get-started-with-data-visualization-in-tableau-desktop   The full course can be completed in about 3 ½ hours.

Course curriculum:


Tableau has “Ready Made Curriculum”  available at Ready Made Curriculum –  You must complete a login request form on your first visit to the site.  Don’t be alarmed, that is just so we can follow up with program participants.   In one of the most important learnings from the first year of the pilot program, we found our teachers very quickly moved from the getting started level data literacy planned activity to their own custom lesson plans.  As one teacher phrased it “Teachers like to teach their own material”.  Ok – we need to be flexible. 

The Ready-Made curriculum can be used as individual modules to start your program or augment your plan.  Beginning modules are appropriate for data literacy and Tableau orientation.  Other modules like the one using NASA meteor strike data that can be used as a template or stand-alone.

The pilot high school teacher uses Tableau as a visualization tool in his AP Statistics course teaching units on Predicting Mid-Term Elections and NCAA March Madness results.  He also teaches a Data Analytics course as an elective and students use Tableau with Baseball Pitch Tracking data.

The 7/8th grade teacher used the Ready-Made Data Literacy module and then worked on Tableau orientation before pairing students and setting them loose on a scavenger hunt through Superstore data. Most students picked up the concepts quickly and had a lot of fun working in teams. 

The recommendation here would be to use the “Ready Made Curriculum” to get started and level-set the students in terminology and basic Tableau processes and functions.  Then you are the best gauge of your class – older students respond to sports, music, and movie topics that are part of their everyday life.  Younger students may need more structure and limit the goal to a basic understanding of concepts around what data is and how we see or use it every day.  As students progress along their data and Tableau journey, encourage students to seek out data sets that align with their personal interests allowing for independent work.  The goal is to develop their storytelling skills consistent with the course subject matter goals.  Also, look for areas outside traditional STEM where data-based story development will enhance student understanding  – For the relationship between country-level economic growth and CO2 emissions or   Viz for the Social Good and many more idea starters can be found on the Tableau Public site at Idea Starters .   As a final ‘fun’ activity, students 18 years and older are eligible for the Student Iron Viz competition (Student IronViz)   –

What’s our end goal? To help school boards and districts understand that working with data is a viable career path for college-bound or non-college-bound students.  And then to include data – literacy through analytics as a separate curriculum or as electives in traditional STEM other (like arts, business, and humanities) programs.   You don’t need to be a data scientist or a math wiz to have a career working with data so let’s help students see the possibilities!

How can you help?  First, if you currently teach and use Tableau in the classroom or in an afterschool program or need help getting started we would like to meet you – reach out at Teaching Curriculum    

Next – WE NEED YOUR HELP – with the next level pilot – be the one in your school to get this started – Contact me directly at Marketanalyitcsllc@gmail.com please include “Count me in the K-12 Pilot” in the subject line



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