I’ve just completed my first week of The Data School, DSAU10!

I’ve been introduced to the company and my peers, and yet I have never set foot in the Sydney office. Such was the timing of the Sydney Covid Lockdown.

The Challenges of Online Learning

Being brand new students to the data school during covid brought up some challenges. First and foremost how do you deliver remotely? Online of course. This meant technology (laptop and monitor) had to be shipped direct to our doors. We did experience some technical issues in the first few days, however these were resolved and its been smooth sailing since.

Some challenges to remote learning are that the coach can’t check what students are doing or see how they’re going as easily. To overcome this you need good communication from students and coaches, using features of the technologies themselves. This includes things like showing your tableau viz through screen sharing.

One truly great benefit of these online technologies is being able to see the DSAU9 cohort in action. We get to sit in on their presentations and get an understanding of what’s ahead and what’s expected of us in the future.

The Social Side

Think about when you would learn at uni. You’d meet people on the way to class, chat during breaks because everyone’s just right there in the same space. Being online creates a barrier to this. In online conversations you can’t have more than 1 voice at a time, so there’s no room for individual break offs in conversation. This is especially cumbersome if you haven’t spoken to these people before.

This is something that the staff had anticipated and what I saw were the coaches and staff really encouraging us to make those sorts of connections when we can, and to be supportive of our peers. The coaches even set up a session for us to meet DSAU9 and chat without them around (I can declare no gossip occurred whatsoever).

Team Events

My first introduction to my peers and coaches was through an online escape room challenge with the whole company. This was a great way to bond through our collective frustration and spamming of the hint button. All jokes aside it was a fantastic alternative to in-person social activities.

As we know, the Covid lockdown has put a stop to socialising in the form of Friday drinks after work and to any in-person team-building. So it was great to see the school put on these activities. We’ve already been invited to another event; at home cheese and wine tasting.

The Content

Getting to see Alteryx for the first time, I enjoyed the visual layout of the workflows, connecting up each tool in sequence. And just how easy it made data preparation and analysis with an abundance of tools.

After beginning with Alteryx we went through tableau techniques like sets, parameters, donut charts and more. Many of which I would have loved to have used in my initial application. Coincidentally, in class we got to use what we’d learnt in both Alteryx and Tableau to make our application viz’s better.

Things to Consider for Online Learning:

  • Eye fatigue – regular breaks are key
  • Getting outside to see the sun when you can
  • Speak up when you don’t understand (you have to unmute yourself first)

Despite the challenges I’ve learnt a lot in my short time here. About powerful data analysis tools like Alteryx, and brand new ways to bring data together visually in Tableau. This includes things I wish I new earlier like donut charts, set actions, and data blending techniques.

Frank Salmon
Author: Frank Salmon