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SAP Analytics Cloud: A Cure for the Classroom Technology Headache

My name is Nancy Jones. I left corporate America to teach at a local university a few years back. I have been using technology to teach information systems and accounting concepts since the very beginning and I have used A LOT of different tools, sometimes several in one class in one semester. I’ve come to expect that there will be bumps in the road, frustration, and unexpected system issues no matter how many times we test out the technology and the curriculum.

While this blog is perhaps geared toward educators, those of you in “industry” might also be interested in how we get those college grads ready for a career at your firm. This is the story of how SAP Analytics Cloud allowed me to relieve some teaching-with-technology headaches to provide our university students valuable learning opportunities.

Tech in Education vs. Tech in the “Real World”

Teaching with technology is not the same as what happens in industry. In industry, if I wanted to try out new technology, once the request got through the approval process, I simply contacted the IT folks and the software or other tool would magically be installed and running, usually seamlessly, where I needed it. In some cases, we might even get some training on the new tech. If there were problems, our trusty IT heroes would come to our rescue.

Here’s what happens when faculty wish to use technology to illustrate and clarify course content and to help meet learning outcomes:

  • First, there are no IT knights in shining armor to procure, test, and install the new software or other technology. We ourselves, acquire the technology through academic licenses or trial versions. This process can vary from very easy to cumbersome. Sometimes we have to find funding to pay for the technology…. And yes, acquiring funding can require mountains of paper work with abundant dotted i’s and crossed t’s.
  • Once we get the technology, let’s talk about software technology here, we then have to figure out how to install it on our own systems and then self-train on how the whole thing works. Assuming we have more than a 30-day trial license, we should be able to figure it all out in between classes, research, service requirements and everything else that we do as an educator.
  • If we are lucky, there are learning activities with the same learning outcome as our class’ that we can use. If not, we need to develop curriculum using this new technology. (Hopefully the trial license hasn’t expired yet.)

Now—How Do We Make the Technology Useful for Our Students?

In my time as an academic, I have created or adapted hands-on curriculum many times. It can be time consuming but very rewarding when the light bulbs go on over the heads of my students.

One important prerequisite of bulb-lighting is that the technology should not overwhelm or frustrate a student’s efforts to understand those all important concepts revealed within the marvels of the tools. Sources of frustration (for faculty too) include technology that is difficult to install and software programs that are difficult to understand and/or use.

When we teach with technology, there is always the issue of installing software on students laptops or finding a lab to install the software on their machines. For those of us in state schools, labs may not be a viable option and often there are little to no resources available to help students with the installations, so that leaves me, the busy instructor struggling to figure out how to install software on the students’ equipment.

Don’t even mention that many business software solutions don’t work on the Macs that the students somehow got talked into during their freshman year. The inconvenience of the installation, even if it is seemingly minor, detracts from the students’ optimal learning experience and adds to the instructor’s level of stress.

The Answer: SAP Analytics Cloud

So when I find a tool that is easy to use and engaging for the students, I stand up and take notice. Enter SAP Analytics Cloud! I was lucky enough to be provided access to SAP Analytics Cloud early on through the SAP Next Gen University Alliances so that my colleague and I could work on curriculum to be shared with other faculty and of course, provided to our students to enhance their learning opportunities.

  • Because SAP Analytics Cloud, true to its name, is actually in the cloud, no software installation is required, eliminating a potential source of frustration for the students and a headache for the instructor.
  • In addition, since SAP Analytics Cloud is hosted by an SAP HANA server, the response time is limited only by the bandwidth in the classroom. (With classes of up to 65 students, this hasn’t been a problem for us.)
  • And… the technology is platform agnostic. Go ahead and bring on those pesky Macs!
  • Now if that weren’t enough, SAP Analytics Cloud is also very easy to learn, intuitive to use, and has a very high “coolness” quotient.

I used the embedded and online tutorials to learn about the tool and create learning activities. My students caught on much more quickly than I, and they were able to dive right into using the visualization and dashboarding capabilities of SAP Analytics Cloud after about a 30 to 45 minute in-class introduction. Very cool indeed!

Try It Yourself—for Free

So if you aren’t convinced yet to try SAP Analytics Cloud, here’s some more good news. Access to the public educational tenant is free of charge to educators and students. You simply ask for access at this link:

More about Teaching with Technology…

I hope that you have enjoyed this first article about teaching with SAP Analytics Cloud and that it has piqued your interest about adding this technology in your class. Future articles planned for this series include an exploration of SAP Analytics Cloud’s capabilities to match your students’ and your class to the tool’s features and an article addressed to our students about how fun technology can be. Until then, have fun exploring the Cloud!

Disclaimer: While my academic experiences may not be universal, I have talked with enough faculty from lots of different places to know that they are far from unique.

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