Monday, March 30, 2015

Making Data Fun And Easy To Understand with SAP Lumira


On the 16th of March, Nanyang Polytechnic’s School of Information Technology (NYP SIT) held a SAP Lumira training workshop for secondary school students. The software is created by the German technology conglomerate, SAP, and enables users to present data in a fun and visually appealing manner.

I volunteered as a Student Helper and also had the opportunity to learn more about the software.



What is SAP Lumira?

SAP Lumira organises regular data from a Microsoft Excel spreadsheet (or from a database) and converts it into an easy to understand and visually appealing format.

The example infographic on the left looks as if it was created by a professional designer on Photoshop but in reality, it was created using SAP Lumira. With drag and drop tools, SAP Lumira makes it easy to present lots of numbers and data without boring people. It is suitable for school projects and presentations, and free (Personal Edition) but there are full featured-paid versions as well.

What is the SAP Young Thinkers Challenge Workshop?

The SAP Young Thinkers Challenge is a competition for secondary school students. Students need to think of ideas, use facts, and present their data visually, using SAP Lumira. This competition enables students to learn more about analytics, and put their creative skills to the test.

NYP SIT is one of the training centres for secondary schools, which include Anderson Secondary School, Sembawang Secondary School and several more.


Preparations 

In the morning, we were briefed by Mr Vincent Phua, a senior lecturer in NYP SIT, about what Student Helpers were expected to do. After the briefing, a group of SAP Lumira experts taught us how to use the software.

We learnt how to convert a Microsoft Excel spreadsheet file filled with data on the number of Olympic medals won by each and every participating country, into a visual representation.

This was the fun part. Once I had input the data into the software, all I had to do was to pick a particular graphic presentation (for example, a bar chart, line chart or geo map), and with just a few more clicks, I had a map of the world showing the medals won by each and every participating country.

You can filter the information by countries, by the year or by the medal colour (for example, gold, silver or medal). Once I was happy with it, I could save the data in any format I wanted or turn it into an infographic.

Arrival of Secondary School Students

At 1.30pm, the workshop officially started with the secondary school students taken to a computer lab. They were then briefed by the SAP Lumira experts and Mr Phua about what was going to happen during the session.

The students had some fun as well. There was a part where the students had to dance the ‘Chicken Dance’ in front of everyone. I could see that every single student in the room had lots of fun and was smiling away.

The students were then treated to a short documentary called The Human Face of Big Data. Basically, it is about Big Data, a term coined for massive volumes of data. Big Data plays an integral part in our lives and large corporations would pay lots to be able to store Big Data.

It is an interesting film, worth watching and we all know it is important because Singapore is transforming itself into a Smart Nation. After the screening, the students then proceeded for a short tea break session.

A 45 Minute Hands On Session with SAP Lumira

After the tea break, students could finally play around with SAP Lumira. A hands-on session was led by one of the SAP Lumira experts who also taught us student helpers earlier on. A soft copy of the SAP Lumira manual was also distributed to every student, and we were also ready to help them out if needed.

Although some students had initially faced some difficulties with the software, most of them managed to catch up eventually and did well on their own. I could also see them having fun and enjoying themselves with the software.

At the end, when it was time for the students to create an infographic using the data, most of them had fun customising the infographic to their own preferences.  Many used the customisation tools that were included into SAP Lumira. Some of them could potentially be designers!

Once the hands-on session was over, the students gathered for a debriefing session.  The session was conducted by a teacher from one of the secondary schools and she showed an infographic created by an NYP student that managed to snag an award in a SAP Lumira competition.

The infographic included some facts about the biggest contributors to pollution and how much energy we would save if we stuck to public transport and make some lifestyle changes. It was interesting as it was visually appealing and also convinces the viewer to take action.

Course and Career Talk 

Mr Phua then screened a video about the F Secure software, which helps people find their lost phones using GPS and remote lock (using his/her friend’s phone).


Mr Phua explained how technology can be both innovative and useful at the same time. He also introduced the various NYP SIT diplomas and spoke about the exciting career opportunities. Although the students were mostly Secondary One students, the talk got them thinking about their future.

A Short Campus Tour

After the whole session, we brought a group of enthusiastic Anderson Secondary School students for a short tour around the NYP campus. We showed them the different Schools and L’Rez, a student-run restaurant. We also told them about the different diplomas that they could offer  in NYP.
The students also enjoyed seeing the sports facilities like the indoor sports hall, the gym, the stadium and the swimming pool. All of them had a great time walking around NYP.

Conclusion
Overall, being a Student Helper was enjoyable. It may not seem like much, but I was given the opportunity to learn new things (in this case, I learnt how to use SAP Lumira). I also enjoyed interacting with the secondary school students and other Student Helpers.
Seeing the happy faces of the students made me happy as well. I definitely will volunteer for more of these events and I hope that more NYP students will do likewise.

By Hanafi Bin Sedik, Year 2, Diploma in Engineering Informatics

I like to spend my free time and weekends exploring various places around Singapore, taking long walks at public parks and eating delicious food. Not only that, I also like to make videos, write on my personal blog and hang out with my awesome friends and family. I wish to work at a major software company and start my own production company in the future.


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