Caltech’s Busy Beaver
The California Institute of Technology’s mascot does more than just cheer on teams at sports games. In 2021, a clip art version of Bucky Beaver led the U.S. university’s staff through training for its Tableau server upgrade.
Tableau is a data visualization software. Caltech’s upgraded Tableau site featured a redesigned homepage and a new folder organization, so Associate Director of Prospect Analytics Kelly Douglas needed to lead a training for staff.
“I wanted to design a training that would get people’s attention and that they would engage with … it seemed like a good opportunity to be able to create something fun,” says Douglas.
Inspired by a previous staff member’s “Bucky’s Holiday Travels”—an inventive training game that featured a daily search for mascot Bucky Beaver on Caltech’s intranet platform—Douglas positioned the Tableau training as a fun sightseeing adventure lead by Bucky and a clip art version of herself.
“I thought it would be a good tie in with what people were already familiar with—this idea of traveling with the mascot and building on that,” she says.
She also drew upon other CASE members’ work, including marketing postcards designed by the University of London.
“They were very eye-catching, so I used that idea to create postcards that catch people’s attention and direct them to go learn more,” explains Douglas.
To create the artwork, Douglas primarily used clip art from online site Pixabay to put together scenes and characters. One of her favorite graphics: a family of beavers chilling out at home. She paired the images with punny copy that imbues humor into the training.
“I think putting the pictures together was the part that I enjoyed the most [about the training],” says Douglas, “just to create those ways that turn this into more of a story.”
The goals of the training expanded past familiarizing staff with the new system to reminding them of the different features the program offers. Caltech held a multiple day training event with an internal marketing campaign that revealed three components daily to engage staff in multiple ways: fun images, short videos with tips, and participation activities including survey questions. Spreading out the training over ten days and keeping it concise and fun allowed staff to not be inundated with too much information at once, explains Douglas.
Staff who completed the activities were entered in a raffle, and more days of participation equaled a greater chance of winning. Winners got to choose prizes from a variety of Caltech swag including hats, stuffed animals, and water bottles.
The surveys also allowed Douglas to quickly act on feedback and improve the Tableau dashboards for staff, as well as track involvement.
“We had good turnout and it was across different groups. It wasn’t just the very technical people; it was a mix of staff in different areas, which is what we want to see,” says Douglas.
Circle of Excellence judges shared enthusiasm for the project, awarding Caltech a bronze COE Award in 2022.
“I was happy that the work was recognized and to be part of the community that is CASE, and part of other great entries,” says Douglas.
About the author(s)
Hannah Ratzer is Editorial Specialist at CASE.
Article appears in:
March - April 2023
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