Setting the stage
There are benefits to working in large schools. Larger schools usually mean more resources. Those resources could be staff, money, students, and even spaces. With an increase in resources also comes an increase in the need for organization and communication. The athletic department at The Kaust School in Saudi Arabia was looking for a better way to share information both internally and externally.
As a large school with multiple staff and facilities, creating schedules and communicating these clearly with all people involved has been a very tedious task. Due to inconsistent practices, miscommunication was common. It was also difficult to know which facilities were being used most, how much the department was being charged for outside venues, and if staff schedules were balanced and fair.
In addition, the department needed to create a schedule for buses for off-site facility usage. These bus schedules needed to be shared with the bus company and the facilities teams at various locations. The system, unfortunately, required a lot of manual copy and paste work. This created more room for human error and inefficiency.
The start to fixing this problem was to develop a consistent way to collect and enter information. We decided to start with a spreadsheet. The key was to make sure data entry was consistent. This took a few iterations to make sure all information was captured. Once the initial data was entered, we then looked at how to communicate this information. Since it was mainly a view only, Data Studio was a logical tool to use.
Interactive dashboards with Data Studio
One of the main reasons for creating this dashboard was to communicate the work that was being done in the PE department. The first page of the dashboard shows the current day’s schedule. This is automatically populated depending on the date.
In this view, someone could see which classes are scheduled for each period of the day. The table at the top shows details with regards to teacher, time, location and grade level. The section below shows a breakdown for the number of classes each teacher is teaching, the frequency of use for facilities and finally, a quick glance at the number of students and the number of classes.
Communicate with outside organizations and facilities
The Bus Schedule allows for the department to share their bus information and schedule with people outside of the organization. The bus company and the facilities groups can easily check the bus schedule to see what is expected for the day at the top of the page. In addition to the daily information, a couple of simple visualizations show the number of buses and the number of students riding for the month.
Towards the bottom of the page, the complete bus schedule can be found. By clicking on the three dots just above the complete schedule, a person could download and export the list for their own information, as needed.
Individual teacher schedules
On the My Weekly Schedule page, a teacher can go in and find their name from the dropdown menu to see their schedule for the week. They can also get an overview of the classes they are teaching. The page defaults to the current week. However, from the date dropdown, the teacher will be able to change the weekly schedule to see future weeks as well.
Google Data Studio also allows for SSO (single sign on) logins. If set up properly, the individual teacher schedule will be automatically displayed. In this situation, they would be unable to see what other teachers are teaching, though.
The benefits of dashboards for communicating information
Depending on the data collected, dashboards allow for transparency around what is happening. When information needs to be updated, it can be done in one place (on the main spreadsheet) and the dashboard will update automatically. There is no need for emails or notifications.
Moving forward, adding in financial information about how much each activity costs and how much money is spent for facilities and buses will be used to inform decision making when it comes to program evaluation at the end of the unit and school year.