Is Designing a Dashboard Worthwhile?

Since the recent Learning with Google event with updates for 2021, you might have seen people talking about BigQuery and reports that monitor a Google Workspace for Education domain. These types of reports are known collectively as dashboards and they give you a way of visually analysing large sets of data.

However, dashboards can be used for a wide range of purposes and not just to monitor how many Google Meets have happened during a week (handy as that is). As teachers, we collect and hold loads of information and data about our students. A dashboard has the power to unlock all of that data and we can quickly analyse that data to inform our decisions.


Being able to clearly see meaningful information about our students is vital for knowing how they are progressing. Therefore, designing and creating a dashboard could be one solution to unlocking the complex data we hold on students and the domains we run.



Google Data Studio

I have been using Google Data Studio to create dashboards for my college for a number of years. The one thing I have found the most helpful with Data Studio is that you can create your own data analysis charts or tables without having to code. The drag and drop features within Data Studio make it easy to get started. Also, the product is free with Google Workspace For Education, however, you might need to turn on access to the tool in your Google Admin console.


Data Studio allows you to connect to a range of data sources to build a dashboard. For example, you can link a simple Google Sheet or to a BigQuery data warehouse. There is also a wide range of options for designing your dashboard, from various tables and charts to templates and graphics.



Data Studio Dashboards in Action

Here is a selection of dashboard ideas you could create using your own data:


Creating a dashboard for Google Form responses of a student questionnaire

You could add charts to show student satisfaction for the different questions in your Form. Data Studio allows you to filter the information you are seeing on a dashboard by using a customisable filter. For example, you might want to just see the satisfaction scores for students in one particular department/year, or perhaps the results for all students that receive free school meals. This can make your dashboard interactive and would allow a user to see the responses most relevant to them.


Above is an example from the K-12 Data Studio Report Collection by Elissa Malespina and Laura Tilton.


Designing a dashboard that shows student assessment grades and progress

For this dashboard, you could link to a Google Sheet or a database that holds your student assessment data. You could add a bar chart showing formative grades for all students at your school or college and display the results by course or subject. Data Studio also has the feature to drill down to additional information within a chart. This means if you click on an assessment grade of 3 for your English course, you could drill down to see the student names of those that score a 3 in the formative assessment. This would give you a quick way of targeting students that need additional support before a summative assessment.


Above is another example from the K-12 Data Studio Report Collection by Chris Smith.


Monitoring a Google Workspace for Education domain

Within the admin console, there are a number of audits that you could run to monitor your domain. However many of these audit logs are text-based and difficult to visually represent. You could export the audit logs as a Google Sheet or to BigQuery and connect them to Data Studio. You will then have the power to create a dashboard with a number of charts that demonstrate the number of logins in your domain, or the number of Google Meets that have happened, or the number of assignments posted every day across your domain.



Next Steps

If this blog has inspired you to build your own dashboard, here are a few resources to help you with your next steps;



Darren Simons is Head of Technology Enhanced Learning and Innovation at Suffolk New College. He is also Course Leader of the Initial Teacher Training programme in Further Education at the University of Suffolk. Darren is a Google Certified Trainer and Innovator who designed an assessment tracking chatbot as part of his LON19 innovator project. He started his teaching career as a media lecturer in 2010, having worked as a Senior Studio Manager at the BBC World Service and a variety of roles in the commercial radio sector. Darren achieved an MA in Creative and Media Education from Bournemouth University and is currently External Examiner for the Open University in initial teaching training.


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