News from SPARK


Data Analytics Basics

Jon Snow is not the only one who knows nothing. We know nothing as well. At least, not without data. Of course, we have to analyze data in order to give them meaning. Only after that, data becomes information. So, what should we do with the vast amounts of data generated by people, organizations and machines? The answer is data analytics.  

Simply put, analytics is the systematic computational analysis of data or statistics. Nowadays, data analytics is an important tool to gain insight into business activities and to back decision-making process. Application of data analytics has evolved and developed over time. Not is provides numerous business benefits.   

To present the development of analytics, we should set a time machine to the 19th century. That is when Frederick Winslow Taylor contemplated on scientific management and methods. Henry Ford was also one of the pioneers in data analytics as he kept a record on the speed of assembly lines.  

Analytics gained importance in the early ’70es when we started using computers in decision-making. Development of Big Data, Data Warehouses and Cloud Computing had a massive impact on research, discovery and interpretation of data. Modern organizations are investing heavily in data analytics as companies need swift and agile decision process to retain its market position and competitiveness. 

The following text explains, in short, the process and types of data analytics. 

How to data analytics 

#1 Collect the requests 

The cornerstone in a data analytics process is to ask yourself why do you want to analyze that specific data in the first place. You will define your goal and purpose of the analytics and decide what type of analytics you are going to use. According to this, you’ll make a plan of action. 

#2 Collect data

After you gather all the requests, it’s time to gather data. You will reach out to various sources so you might want to have them listed with the collection date and comment that might help you later put the findings in context. 

#3 Filter data 

Not all data that has been collected is useful for your analysis, so clear all unnecessary ones. The more precise data is, the more accurate result will be. You might come across the term GIGO (Garbage In-Garbage Out), meaning low-quality inputs will produce low-quality results.

#4 Analyze data

Ones you gathered, cleared, and processed data, it’s time to analyze. You’ll utilize data to discover wanted information. Sometime, you will have to dig deeper and extend a set of data. In this phase, you will use a different approach to finish the process successfully. 

#5 Construe data

After analytics, you’ll need to interpret your findings. We recommend simple text, tables and charts. 

#6 Visualize it 

Nowadays, the visualization of data is omnipresent. Graph presentation of data is easier to understand and process. By looking at different connections and comparing different sets of data, people can easily discover the meaning of information.

Types of data analytics 

#1 Descriptive analytics – What happened?

This type of analytics uses simple methodology and statistics which describes one variable and its distribution. 

#2 Predictive analytics – What is going to happen? 

This analytics foresees the usage of sophisticated analytic methods. The main objective is to predict a future outcome based on historical data. You can predict the value of some phenomenons, relations strength, trends, patterns and exceptions.

#3 Diagnostic analytics – Why did something happen? 

This analytics type will answer a why question. It gives insight into a particular problem. 

#4 Prescriptive analytics – What to do to achieve the desired outcome?

This analytics will give you a potential solution for the problem based on previous similar situations. It uses information collected by using descriptive and predictive analytics. 

Application of analytics 

Client or buyer is an essential stakeholder in many businesses. If you have failed in creating a quality clients base, your business might be in jeopardy. Data analytics is used to acquire and retain customers. In the year 2015, Coca-Cola managed to strengthen its data strategy by introducing a digital loyalty program. 

Data analytics will assist in the process of business operation transition. This includes the possibility to adjust to the buyers’ expectations, changes in product, and marketing campaign efficiency. Netflix is a fabulous example of data analytics use for target advertising. Application of data analytics in risk management is significant as well as in innovation, product development and many other business processes. 

According to the World Economic Forum, 85% of world companies are using analytics and related technologies in their business with the tendency to reach 96% in the next two years. This trend will also generate additional demands for a qualified workforce. 

You can get familiar with the basics of data analytics in our SPARK School. Once a year, we organize a Data Analytics workshop with the primary goal to introduce this vocation and its importance for the ever-changing business ecosystem. 

E-learning: Teaching for Teachers

During the COVID-19 lockdown, the schools were closed in mid-March. Teachers, students and other stakeholders have found themself in limbo. You can not just switch off the education process, and you had to continue online. Still, the transfer from the classrooms to online platforms has caught us all unguarded.

The main problem lies in the fact that teachers-to-be are not trained at their universities in Bosnia and Herzegovina to perform online or hybrid schooling. The curriculum of the vast majority of them does not include topics such as e-learning, online curriculum content, validation of the e-learning and similar. In the first phase of transfer to online platforms, teachers coped by using different apps and communication platforms. Some schools have already been using media for education process management, even before lockdown. For those rare examples, the transfer to online schooling wasn’t an issue. 

After the initial transfer, jet another problem occurred. There was no systematic switch to a specific platform, and the teachers were constrained to use multiple tools and apps for different students. Besides, some data shows that 10-15% of students don’t even have access to the internet or necessary equipment (laptop/phone/tablet). Those students couldn’t be a part of the education process at all. 

We were sure about one thing: teachers had to put an extra effort to train themselves on how to use available platforms. 

SPARK has suffered the same fate. The workshops were transferred online at Moodle platform, and Google Meet supported the process. Moodle wasn’t new to us as we use it for hybrid education approach (a combination of traditional and online schooling). At that time, we have also decided to go with a new online workshop for teachers and professors: E-learning – Teaching for Teachers. We’ve come to realize that the concept of e-learning will be misinterpreted. There was a danger that E-learning will be reduced to PDF or Word doc upload to some collaboration platform (Google Drive) or learning management system. 

WhatsApp and Viber chat groups are also not E-learning. It is quite easy to understand the essence of the E-learning. In a nutshell, it’s a learning process performed using technology that enables access to curriculum outside the traditional classroom. In most cases, it refers to course, program or education level that is rolled out online. 

The very first course for professors was titled E-learning: Teaching for Teachers. The takes from it were the definition of E-learning, description of the process and system, the configuration of the E-learning system, analysis and implementation of the E-learning system. In short, Teachers got familiar with the basis of E-learning theory, and with the activities and resources at Moodle through live work. Mr Slavomir Stankov, professor and experienced professional in the field of E-learning, together with Head of SPARK school, Matea Markić Vučić led the course. 

The first course lasted a month and a half. After that, teachers have continued with the second phase on July 20, 2020. Teachers have found this phase titled: “Instructional Design: Teaching for Teachers” to be more interesting. The course was based on practical task and prep work of actual curriculum. The participants have got the chance to create Moodle lessons, homework, use forum, prepare tests. They have also been introduced to system. The very end of the course has included validation according to predefined criteria. 

The next step for SPARK is to organize the course that will cover the validation of E-learning and learning analytics. This course will round out the topic.  

SPARK wanted to offer quality theoretical underpinnings to teachers and professors, followed by practical work. Working principle and methodology acquired at the courses can be applied to education content modelling in general, no matter of platform. 

A comment from one of the participant was: “I would like to commend the concept of both seminars. I find useful the initial presentation of the E-learning concept, as well as the understanding and the practical work we were engaged in. We even manage to cover the evaluation topic by analyzing the work of other participants. This approach we all should implement in our work with the students. I had doubts when it comes to the online learning process and its efficiency. You manage to prove me wrong.”  

E-learning is the world for its own and unlimited space for research. It requires extra work and specific knowledge from teachers. Preparation of the online curriculum content has to be in line with the set standards and methodology to achieve intended learning outcomes.  

The next cycle of our E-learning workshops is in preparation, and the teachers who want to be a part of this process are welcome to contact us. 

Building Your First Design Portfolio

For all careers that require creativity, it seems like it is enough just to practice artistic skills daily. Right? No, not really, as being a designer is not equal to being an artist and vice versa. An eye for details and a pinch of creativity are an asset, but you can learn how to design. The ability to draw correct human anatomy is not prerequisite. 

Design is a creative vocation, but that doesn’t mean that you will work on super-exciting projects every day. Projects for clients and companies are very often predefined, and you will have to think about their priorities and needs.

If you want to pursue a career in design, it is absolutely necessary to have a design portfolio. It’s crucial for job or project pitch. A portfolio is the only thing clients will pay attention to when employing a graphic designer. Your design portfolio is your ID. You are increasing your chances to get hired with a quality portfolio that shows your work and tells a story on your problem-solving method. 

It’s OK not to have a perfect design portfolio the day you learn the basics of graphic design. You better focus on obtaining new skills and polishing the existing ones, than to worry about how professional your portfolio is. Also, do not compare your portfolio with others as there is a big chance that you are in different phases of a career. Channel your strengths to your own goals. Use a portfolio as an empty canvas where you can portrait all those ideas for projects that are not strictly defined by budget, time, someone else’s ideas or suggestions.  

We bring you some pieces of advice on how to create a portfolio if you are just hitting this exciting road called design.  

#1 Take your time

In the early stage of a career, most designers are struggling with what to include in the portfolio. Don’t overthink it. Create a website that will emphasize your work. Design landing page, personalized 404 pages, navigation, contact forms, subpages. Make a brand manual: show colours, fonts, dos and don’ts, illustrations. 

#2 Develop a brand 

Make up a product or company and develop a visual identity for it. Design a logo, choose fonts, colour scheme, illustrations, animations. By doing this, you can express yourself and include your personal aesthetic and interests. That is how your design will speak up for you. 

#3 Give to get 

There is some local NGO in your town that is gasping for rebranding. Offer your services for free. If you have some spare time, research the existing branding and their digital presence. Based on your findings, you can develop a project that might solve the inconsistencies they are struggling with. You never know who might find your work exciting and what it can bring to you in the long run. 

#4 Tell the whole story 

Be careful not to have a gallery of screenshots as a design portfolio. As impressive as it might look at first glance, that will not be sufficient to keep the attention of a decision-maker. Those looking at your design portfolio should have enough information on projects to get the idea behind it. That’s why your portfolio should be a case study. Tell a story on brand, what it represents, what values it stands for, how to use the brand internally and externally. You can also present a website and mobile app of the brand, how to use branding in print or signing. Also, give some examples of logo and branding usage within a marketing campaign. 

#5 Quality over quantity 

Once you have created quite a few projects, resist the impulse to add them all to your design portfolio. Browse through them and pick your best work. Don’t show just one segment of your work and make sure that your compilation is seamless. The chances that someone will have time and patience to stroll through tons of material are slim. 10 to 20 designs are sufficient to present your set of skills and aesthetic. 

Keep in mind that trends are ever changing and the technology is advancing rapidly – keep up with them and update your portfolio regularly.

Once you’ve created the design portfolio, don’t hesitate to ask for an opinion from people you trust and respect. Remember, the design portfolio should be updated every time you improve your skills or change the focus. At first, it might be full of work you designed respecting someone else’s wishes. As time passes, it will become a reflection of what you really want to work. In the end, just a glance look at your portfolio will be sufficient to understand your work. 

If you find this topic interesting although you don’t have the necessary skills to call yourself a designer, you can always start by applying to our Graphic Design workshop in SPARK school.