A one-day curriculum for teaching Tableau: Tips from a Master

/sites/executive_edhec/files/fileroQ6r2" style="float: left; width: 104px; height: 104px; margin: 5px 7px;" /> Yvan Fornes Business Analytics Senior Consultant chez Amadeus June 6, 2017 I recently…
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13 Jun 2017

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Yvan Fornes
Business Analytics Senior Consultant chez Amadeus
June 6, 2017


I recently had the privilege of teaching my passion—data visualization—at the EDHEC Global MBA program in Nice, France. I was sent by my company, Amadeus, the leading IT solutions provider for the travel industry and largest processor of travel bookings in the world.

As institutions with similar goals, EDHEC and Amadeus often collaborate. For several years, EDHEC Global MBA participants have spent two months consulting for Amadeus, providing valuable project insights. In addition to welcoming interns from EDHEC, Amadeus also recruits graduates from the MBA program, as it is ranked among the top 25 in the world by The Economist.

A curriculum for onboarding Tableau

The goal of my one-day class was to teach students how to answer a business question using Tableau. To achieve this goal in such a short period, I had to find a way to make the students learn by themselves before and after class. When I’m asked how to teach Tableau, I usually recommend doing it in five steps:

1. Familiarize yourself with the basics to understand concepts like using pills, shelves, aggregation, and data types. There are great videos on the Tableau site that explain these principles. I asked students to watch the videos below to get comfortable with visual analytics:

  • Getting started
  • Getting Started with Data
  • Getting Stated with Visual Analytics
  • Understanding the Understanding the data types (Dimensions vs Measure, Continuous vs Discrete)
  • Aggregation, granularity and ratio calculation
  • Getting started with dashboards and stories


2. Get hands-on by creating your first dashboards. Before the class, students had to publish a draft visualization to Tableau Public. The criteria? Answer a business question with a public data set that I provided.

3. Attend an advanced class or two to learn deeper concepts. Myself, I waited too long (two years) to pursue advanced classes: I would have saved a lot of time by finding one sooner. My recommendation is to do so a few months after you start using Tableau. This will allow you to elucidate and apply more complicated concepts—for example, differentiating between row-level, aggregated, LOD, and table calculations.

4. Have a look at the Tableau Public gallery. Find vizzes you like, download them with the button in the bottom-right corner, and try to understand how they were made. By reverse-engineering visualizations and dashboards, you’ll internalize best practices and better understand visualization techniques.

5. Practice, practice, practice by creating new vizzes and publishing them to Tableau Public. At work, you will be confronted with the same data sets often, and will have to answer the same types of questions. But by practicing with Tableau Public, you’ll expose yourself to more varied situations that teach you novel analytical approaches.

To motivate students to practice, we organized a data viz challenge in collaboration with the EDHEC, Tableau, and Amadeus. Participants delivered a final visualisation that was graded, and the top three teams were rewarded.

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