Jon's DS13 Week 6 Recap

by Jonathan Allenby

Week 6 of the cohort 13 at the Data School was the least lesson-focused week so far, with the focus instead around the project with bursts of teachings sprinkled in.

Day 1

Unlike the previous week, this week we were working with clients within our timezone and thus had our project kick-off first thing in the morning. I think we definitely preferred it this way as we had the rest of the day to start working on the project and less time stewing in wondering what the week’s challenges would hold.

This week’s project was essentially based around data housekeeping. The client had a huge amount of data, but it was quite disorganized and finding how to join and aggregate data to make meaningful discoveries and identify issues was quite difficult. The big difference between this project and our last was that we were working specifically to produce Alteryx workflows, opposed to Tableau Dashboards. This was both interesting and challenging. As someone who comes from a mathematics background I think I quite enjoy being able to aim for a specific correct output opposed to the more subjective output of a Tableau dashboard.

Day 2

Day 2 kicked off with one of the most useful sessions so far: RegEx with Peter Silvester. Learning even the basics of how RegEx works makes a huge difference in what you can achieve in data parsing, processing, and preparation, both inside Tableau and inside Alteryx. The ability to search for strings of specific formats, convert them into rows, flag their existence, and replace them with other values has made a massive difference in the speed & ease in which many common tasks achievable.

We also discovered Kahoot – a customizable and surprisingly competitive trivia game to aid learning – and now all agree that all lessons should involve a Kahoot session.

Day 3

Wednesday was a client day through and through. It was good to be able to work consistently for once – I think sometimes it takes me a while to really find my stride so not working in a stop-start fashion really benefited me.

Day 4

The morning of day 4 was spent learning about Alteryx Server. I believe Alteryx Server serves a similar function as Tableau Server – a way of allowing businesses to give their users the ability to share, use, access, view, or modify Alteryx based resources. Unfortunately, I missed a large chunk of this session due to being busy failing to pass my driving test but I look forward to catching up with the rest of my cohort for the exact details. Even more unfortunately, I missed a Kahoot session. Devastating.

We also spent some time with Carl going through some of the key aspects of teaching the public. This is due to the fact that coming up relatively quickly is our “Learn what the Data School Learns” days where we each have to give a 1h – 1h30m class teaching the public about a specific topic of either Tableau or Alteryx.

Day 5

Finally, Friday rolled around and with it came the conclusion of this week’s project. This week we presented directly to the clients opposed to presenting via a conference call which I think amped the pressure up a bit. Whilst the clients were really happy with what we presented and produced, I think our big takeaway from this week is to be more prepared to present under the actual conditions we’ll be presenting under. We all were able to at least have a little time to practice presenting using our own laptops, however when the actual presentation came we had a number of technical issues such as files being in the wrong location and not having resources pre-loaded which we would have caught if we’d set aside time for a proper practice run. Learning when to stop “working” and start practising presenting is something I’d definitely like to work on!