As part of UW Bothell’s mission to establish digital literacy in its students and faculty, bridging digital media tools with other areas of study is an important educational strategy that greatly enhances the value and skillset of students and instructors, as well as prepares individuals for a society where digital media tools and practices exist as the standard and norm. In an article written by Andreas Brockhaus, UW Bothell’s Director of Learning Technologies, he states that the importance of acquiring digital literacy skills is even higher now, as digital media becomes pertinent in all forms of professional and institutional work. “For faculty and especially for students, the explosion of digital media tools and practices in society have made it ever more vital that students gain skills in using media across many disciplines.” (Brockhaus, 34)
Tableau Desktop, one of four main products under the Tableau Software name: Tableau Desktop, Tableau Server, Tableau Reader and Tableau Public, is one of the leading digital literacy tools in data visualization for statistical and data analysis. With a simple interface and powerful set of features and tools, Tableau Desktop has made analyzing data easier and much more intuitive.
Tableau Desktop’s interface is minimal and easy to navigate through, and because of this simplified design approach, much of the user’s attention is focused on the actual work of analyzing data. There is very little distraction, and many of the data fields and boxes are clearly labeled and immediately identifiable, making for a very effective work environment.
One of the more apparent features of Tableau Desktop is its ability to create up to 23 different types of charts and graphs. You can create bar, pie, and area charts, as well as scatter plots, histograms, treemaps, and even Gantt charts. Also, when hovering the mouse over each individual chart, a box will appear detailing what is needed in order to generate that specific chart. There are many ways to be both creative and effective when visualizing data, and having this many options can ultimately solve many different problems for any job.
What seems to be Tableau Desktop’s shining characteristic is its simple drag & drop procedure. Just as it suggests, dragging and dropping different pieces of information into specified fields will instantly create visuals for that dataset. Changing how the data looks is just as simple. By dragging & dropping the datasets around in the different fields, the visuals will change accordingly. This procedure allows users to be quick, agile, and visually in control of their data and how it should be analyzed.
Tableau Desktop works naturally with any Excel spreadsheet, so any existing data can be imported into the software and be immediately analyzed. Tableau Desktop has also removed the need to fill in labels and headers, as the program automatically imports these specific details and applies them to the charts and graphs, simplifying the process even more.
Tableau Desktop has made the process of data visualization very natural and liberating. By empowering the user to be fast and efficient with producing effective visual and analytical content, Tableau Desktop has eliminated all of the stress of working with complicated software in order to connect the user directly with the content they are creating.
For more information, please go to Tableau Software’s website. Students also receive a free 1-year renewable license to use Tableau Desktop.