Data Management and Visual Analytics
Spring 2018

Moodle, Course Calendar, Notes & Resources
Syllabus quick links: Objectives, Structure, Textbook, Technology, Grading Criteria, Student Support

Course Information

Days & Times: Wednesdays, 6:00PM - 9:20PM. First meeting on January 17.
Location: 111 BLC Birchwood Fields
Credits: 3 hours
Prerequisites: None
Instructor: Dr. Rick Jerz
Contact Information: Email: or
Phone: (563) 447-0180 (voice mail)
Office Hours: I will be available about 30 minutes before and after each class

Catalog Description

Understanding how data is stored in databases and learning the tools used to access the data is key to creating datasets used to answer many business questions; how to manage and access data in relational databases using Structured Query Language (SQL); basic principles of visual analytics and techniques for presenting data retrieved from databases.

Course Objectives

With the rapid development of global business and electronic commerce techniques, the volume of business data grows at an unprecedented speed. Contemporary firms of all sizes store a wealth of data about their interactions with various stakeholders (customers, employees, shareholders, government, suppliers, community etc.). The firms’ ability to sense, capture, and retrieve data has been greatly enhanced by exponentially increasing computation power and storage capacity. The consequent decrease in the cost of storing and retrieving data coupled with increasing digitization of interactions (through web sites, RFIDs etc.) has led firms to record data about every minutia of their operations. As firms face this increasing information overload, it has become critical to manage the data effectively so that the data supports business strategy and provides competitive advantage.

Large amounts of data are typically stored and retrieved using modern database management systems (DBMS). In this class we start with familiarizing ourselves with the concepts related to databases. This allows us to both understand the issues related to data management as well as more deeply appreciate the process of data exploration. We learn to leverage SQL to retrieve and focus on the data of interest. We use advanced SQL to query and interact with the data in complex ways. We then apply visual analytics on the data retrieved using SQL to explore the essential patterns and communicate the findings.

Here are some main topics covered in this course:

  • The Relational Data Model
  • The MySQL database environment and software
  • Data Query using SQL, logical conditions, data types, operators
  • Subqueries, combining logical conditions, set operations
  • Grouping and sorting data
  • Joining data from multiple tables
  • Statistics through queries
  • Tableau: Connecting Tableau to your database and data sources
  • Tableau: Data Visualization using Tableau
  • Tableau: Visual statistics, regression and trends, forecasting
  • Tableau: Dashboards and Storytelling

Course Structure

This is a 12-week course.

I will be using my Learning Management System (LMS), Moodle, to manage the course. I think that you will find Moodle a very easy-to-use LMS. On Moodle, students can access chapter resources and assignments, a course calendar, lecture and support videos, your grade book, and exams. There is a link in the ICON course to Moodle.

Class-time will focus on theory, discussion, and hands-on computer exercises learning to apply the theory and information that we just learned.

You can be successful in this course if you study the materials, do all assignments on time, and ask questions whenever something is not understood.

The "Course Calendar" webpage shows dates and topics for this course.

About a week before the class begins, I will send you a "Welcome" email that provides details and course access information, including how to access Moodle and a small pre-course assignment.  I send this email to your email addresses on record with the Registrar, so watch for this email and remember that you may need to check your “junk” mailbox.

Required Textbook

MySQL Cookbook: Solutions for Database Developers and Administrators 3rd Edition, Paul DuBois, ISBN 978-1-449-37402-0, O'Reilly.

SQL Practice Problems, Sylvia Moestl Vasilik, ISBN 978-1-52080-7638. (Available on Amazon)

Course Technology

This course assumes that the student has some computer skills and understands how to use products such as email, browsers, word processing, and spreadsheets. There may be times where you will need help from ITS or STEAD, which are the university's and the College of Business computer support departments, respectively.

Computer and Internet: For this course you can use either a PC or a Macintosh computer. You will need to bring a laptop to class. The classroom has wireless Internet. I ask only that you refrain from surfing the web, checking email, playing games, etc. during class time if you do choose to bring a laptop.

Course Software: This course will use the open-source and free MySQL database product. You will learn how to run this product on your laptop. You will need administrative rights to install MySQL on your laptop, or if you cannot do this, you will need to purchase the options GoDaddy hosted server.

In the later half of the semester we will also be using a product called Tableau, which will be available to us with a free student license.

As we learn about databases and using SQL to analyze date, we will often be comparing this database approach to how one might use Microsoft Excel for similar data exploration. Therefore, it is recommended that you also have a copy of Excel (2010, 2011, 2013/365 or 2016) on your computer. UIowa students are eligible to get MS Office 365 for free from Microsoft.

Browser requirements: You will need a modern browser (Firefox, Chrome, Safari, MS Edge, Internet Explorer, etc.)

Email: Email is the most common method of communication for this course. Students can expect to receive weekly communications from the instructor introducing topics, resources and assignment. Students are expected to check their email account several times a week. You will also be receiving emails from Moodle when forum discussions occur.

Acrobat, Video Player, Screen Capture, and Email: The latest version of Adobe Reader must be installed in your computer in order to access course materials posted as PDFs. For a free download of this application, visit the Division of Continuing Educations Internet Connection Test/Download Page. A video player, such as Windows Media Player or QuickTime are recommended. I also recommend knowing how to do "screen captures," for those times when you want to show me a problem that you are having with your computer or software. See my FAQ webpage for help with screen capture software.

University Computer Lab Computers: Students can use the University labs' computers, which meet these course requirements, and are available for those students who are on-campus. Students can also use the public computers that are available in the building.

Mobile Devices: Most of this course's materials are designed to be easily viewed from most modern tablets, smartphones, and multimedia players. Mobile devices are handy for playing videos and accessing course materials "on the go."

Clickers: Clickers will be used to improve participation. You do not need to purchase clickers. Clickers will be provided by the professor.

A pre-course assignment (see Course Calendar) has been provided to make sure that all of these course requirements are working well before the start of the semester. This pre-course assignment is also explained in the "Course Introduction" video.

Need Technical Support? Any questions about the course materials and Moodle should be directed to the professor.  The professor’s FAQ webpage might sometimes help. Questions about The University of Iowa specific items, such as your UIowa email, UIowa computers, etc., should be directed to either ITS or STEAD.

Grading Criteria

Students will be assessed based on their performance in the following items:

Attendance and participation: 10%
Assignments: 30%
Two Exams: 40%
Project: 20%

Final grades will be awarded based on the following ranges:

>= 99: A+ 94 - 99: A 90 - 94: A-
87 - 90: B+ 83 - 87: B 80 - 83: B-
77 - 80: C+ 73 - 77: C 70 - 73: C-
67 - 70: D+ 63 - 67: D 60 - 63: D-
below 60: F    

The MBA Committee recommends that about half the grades be in the "A" category, and approximately half in the "B" category.

Attendance & Participation: Regular attendance and participation is expected and will lead to success in this course. You get 3 points for each class you attend, 1 point if you are absent but notify me (by email or phone), and 0 points if you are absent and do not let me know.

Assignments: Almost every week you will have some assignment to do that you help you learn SQL and Tableau. All assignments have due dates (Thursdays) that show in Moodle's "Calendar" and in Moodle's "Upcoming Events." When the due date expires, the assignment is over. I encourage you to begin assignments early. Also, I try my hardest to help everyone who seeks my help prior to due dates, but the probability of getting my help goes down dramatically as the due date approaches (i.e., if you ask me a question two hours before an assignment is due, I may not respond.)

Exams: There will be two exams, equally weighted and delivered electronically. Each exam will cover only the materials that we have covered in each half of the semester. These exams will be timed, but you will have a period of 24 hours and can decide when to begin. Exams must be taken individually, and there will be severe consequences for those who do not follow this rule. Exams are open-book, open-notes, and you are encouraged to use Excel. Also, at my discretion, I can ask you to find an instructor or administrator from a university to proctor your exam.

Project: The project will include a "PowerPoint" presentation that you will provide to the class. Students will present an application of using the Tableau product to visually present data. The format for this presentation must follow the "Pechu Kucha" technique. You must use either a voice-over-PowerPoint presentation, or if you prefer, another form of video/audio presentation.

In this project, your presentation should typically have four sections: An introduction, An Approach, Results, and Conclusion. The dataset should be in MySQL, and it could be helpful to include data from an external source, such as Excel, Access, CSV file, etc.

As part of this assignment, you must comment on other student's presentations.

Bonus Points: Occasionally, bonus exercises are provided, and these will be identified as "Bonus" on Moodle. Bonus exercises are always optional, and they are additional points within its own grade category. In the spirit of quality and continuous improvement, whenever you are the first student to identify an administrative error about any component of this course, you will receive one (1) bonus point. These bonus points can amount to up to 3% improvement to your overall grade.

Course Policies

Due Dates & Missed Deadlines: All assignments are due on the date and time noted in the Moodle calendar and is typically Thursdasys at 11:55PM. Since many topics build upon previous topics, missed assignments should still be completed. However, late assignments are not accepted and the student earns a zero grade on these.

Make Up Exams: Make up exams will only be given for extreme situations.

Rectifying Scores: During the semester, I will post all your scores on Moodle for you to view. After you get your homework or exam grade, you have a week to dispute your score. Beyond this period, I will not entertain any disputes.

Student Support

Accommodations: Students seeking classroom and/or exam accommodations should first register with Student Disability Services (SDS):

Academic Integrity and Misconduct: It is my sincere hope that no student in this class submits work which is not his or her own. However, it seems prudent to clarify in advance the policy on cheating. If I determine that any assignment was not completed solely by the student whose identification number appears on the project, the student will receive a zero (0) for the assignment and may receive an "F" for the class. All incidents of cheating will be reported to the Associate Dean for the School of Management. In addition to the academic sanction, the student may be provided a programmatic sanction that could include disciplinary probation or expulsion.

Classroom Etiquette: In emails and online discussions a courteous tone and politeness is expected. For tips on "Netiquette" technique, go to:

Sexual Harassment: The University will not tolerate sexual harassment, nor will it tolerate unwelcomed behavior of a sexual nature toward members of the University community when that behavior creates an intimidating or hostile environment for employment, education, on-campus living, or participation in a University activity. Incidents of sexual harassment should be reported immediately.

See the UI Comprehensive Guide on Sexual Harassment for assistance, definitions, and the full University policy: Concerns regarding sexual harassment should be directed to the Office of the Sexual Misconduct Response Coordinator:

Grievance Policy: Student concerns regarding this course should first be discussed with me. If we can't resolve the complaint, you may contact the DEO of Management Sciences, Nick Street at (319) 335-0890 or If you cannot resolve the complaint by speaking with the DEO, you may contact the Dean