• Course Introduction

        • Time: 32 hours
        • Free Certificate
        Business owners have been generating data for years. Yet, analyzing the data has often proven difficult. Recent innovations in technology increased data for almost every business exponentially. This data explosion ushered in much-needed tools for analyzing data and uncovering valuable insights. The increase in data also allowed improved data communications through data visualization. Data-driven communication unlocks the value of everyday business data, creating a powerful asset that a business can use for competitive advantage. Therefore, it is one of the most sought-after skills in companies today. Data-driven communication enables practitioners to select and structure data for visual communication.

        • Course Syllabus

          First, read the course syllabus. Then, enroll in the course by clicking "Enroll me". Click Unit 1 to read its introduction and learning outcomes. You will then see the learning materials and instructions on how to use them.

        • Unit 1: Defining the Business Objective and Sourcing Data

          Before performing any analysis, there must be a clear business purpose for the analysis and an understanding of how the data will be collected, cleaned, and made available. This is often referred to as the extract, transform, load (ETL) operation, which is the general procedure of copying data from one or more sources into a destination system that may structure the data differently from the source or in a different context than the source. Uniformity in the final data structure helps minimize the chance for errors that could occur from using disparate data sources. It is just as important to understand the source of the data, utilize proper data gathering methodologies and organize the data into a consistent format as it is to actually perform the analysis. Without these prior steps, you could communicate incorrect results to the audience or fail to meet the business objective. In this unit, you will learn about defining clear data analysis objectives, identifying best practices in collecting or gathering data to support the objective, and utilizing proper verification techniques to ensure the validity of collected data.

          Completing this unit should take you approximately 6 hours.

        • Unit 2: Data Analysis

          Did you know that we analyze data every day? Think about it. Imagine a scenario where you went out last weekend and swiped your debit card to pay for lunch with friends. Then, you went shopping for a new phone and swiped your debit card again. Finally, you took your family out for a late-night movie and swiped your debit card again. The following Monday, you attempted to pay your electric bill but didn't have enough money in your account. What would you do first? You would meticulously review your account data and look at all transactions made before and after your weekend, right? You would also analyze the data to determine when, where, and how your account reached a negative balance. Reviewing debit card transaction data and analyzing when, where, and how much money was spent provides facts and insights that help you answer the question, "Why didn't I have enough money to pay my electric bill?" This is data analysis, albeit on a small scale. Data analysis enables one to draw meaningful facts and insights from data to answer specific questions. In this unit, you will learn more about data analysis, including how to determine data analysis questions and the purpose of analysis, how to collect and cleanse data in preparation for analysis, how to analyze data using specific methods and models, and how to interpret and synthesize your data analysis findings.

          Completing this unit should take you approximately 6 hours.

        • Unit 3: Visualization Principles and Processes

          Have you ever attended a company department or team meeting? While your colleague uploads the PowerPoint presentation, you adjust your seat, take out pen and paper, and get ready to take notes. After the agenda, the next slide displays four data visualizations. The presenter refers to each visualization while discussing business operations, strategic alignment, and new initiatives. You look around the table and notice others taking notes and nodding their heads in agreement. You look down at your paper – and nothing – no notes – not even a doodle. You silently ask yourself, "Where is the connection? How are these visualizations associated with business operations, strategic alignment, and the new initiatives?" Reflecting on that experience, can you see the importance of storytelling with data? Moreover, can you see how important it is to connect the data story succinctly to data visualizations? In the last unit, students learned the importance of storytelling with data – organizing and structuring the narrative flow. In this unit, students will learn the principles and processes of data visualization, including concepts and definitions, design specificity, and usability.

          Completing this unit should take you approximately 4 hours.

        • Unit 4: Visualization Tools and Techniques

          Remember when you first learned to drive? There were so many buttons, tools, and techniques you had to use just to turn the car on. Before putting your hands on the steering wheel, you buckled your seatbelt and checked and adjusted the rear, left, and right-side mirrors. Finally, you placed your hands on the steering wheel, shifted the gear from park to drive, looked both ways, and pulled off. While driving, you managed internal and external factors such as steering, gas and brake pedals, speed, turn signals, starting and stopping, and monitoring the drivers at your front, left, rear, and right sides. Somehow, you managed all the moving parts and coordinated them successfully, which resulted in your earning your driver's license. Similarly, you will have an opportunity to manage and coordinate all the moving parts regarding visualization tools and techniques. In this unit, you will learn and apply visualization tools and techniques using spreadsheet software. We will also introduce several open source tools.

          Completing this unit should take you approximately 5 hours.

        • Unit 5: Evaluating Data Visualizations

          Have you ever seen a presentation where every slide consisted of words, words, and more words? When you saw a chart or graph, the colors were so loud and bright it was like a firecracker on the 4th of July. Moreover, the message was unclear and certainly not intended for the audience on hand. When you looked around, everyone had their heads down, trying not to notice all the issues with the presentation. When you present data, start with a story, a message, or a point you are trying to make. The message should be crafted for the intended audience, with a clear narrative flow and visuals that connect and convey that message. In Units 1 through 4, you learned and applied data analysis, storytelling with data, visualization principles, and tools and techniques. This unit will help you tie everything together for the final phase presentation. In this unit, you will apply presentation design for data visualizations. You will also develop messaging for intended audiences and connect visualization to the narrative flow of the data's story.

          Completing this unit should take you approximately 7 hours.

        • Unit 6: Storytelling with Data

          Stories and storytelling are ingrained in our culture because they are powerful ways to connect and convey information. Most stories include visual elements such as pictures, shapes, colors, and textual annotations. Every aspect is strategically structured to create a narrative flow toward the main point and overall message. In this way, visual elements engage us and provoke us to think by helping us draw conclusions and ask questions. In Unit 1, you learned how to conduct data analysis using datasets. You discovered significant data findings, facts, and insights through that process. Now, how will you convey that information to others? You can communicate data findings through visual communications and storytelling. This unit will teach you to apply graphic design to visual communications. You will also learn strategies for structuring and organizing the flow and order of data narratives for storytelling.

          Completing this unit should take you approximately 4 hours.

        • Study Guide

          This study guide will help you get ready for the final exam. It discusses the key topics in each unit, walks through the learning outcomes, and lists important vocabulary. It is not meant to replace the course materials!

        • Course Feedback Survey

          Please take a few minutes to give us feedback about this course. We appreciate your feedback, whether you completed the whole course or even just a few resources. Your feedback will help us make our courses better, and we use your feedback each time we make updates to our courses. If you come across any urgent problems, email contact@saylor.org.

        • Certificate Final Exam

          Take this exam if you want to earn a free Course Completion Certificate.

          To receive a free Course Completion Certificate, you will need to earn a grade of 70% or higher on this final exam. Your grade for the exam will be calculated as soon as you complete it. If you do not pass the exam on your first try, you can take it again as many times as you want, with a 7-day waiting period between each attempt. Once you pass this final exam, you will be awarded a free Course Completion Certificate.