Most software suites, whether free or closed source, offer various applications that are widely used in professional settings. Because Microsoft was one of the pioneers in this area, the names of the programs have entered the common language. We speak of a "PowerPoint presentation" rather than a slide show. We write in "Word" when there are a plethora of word processors other than Word. So the image of a spreadsheet does not always come to mind. On the other hand, say Excel and everyone knows what it's about.
Good for everyone
While Excel's domestic uses are lesser, the business, management, analyst, accountant and even data journalist communities need to master it. Consequently, instilling the basics of spreadsheets is essential to equip students for future careers.
In fact, mastering Excel or Google Sheets concepts is good for learners in general. This type of technological tool can prepare them to multitask, better manage massive data and improve their analytical skills. As for those wishing to go into the world of business management, this is simply a must-have.
Teachers have the opportunity to enhance their classroom management with spreadsheets. In fact, they can keep track of each student's results for each assignment, make an average, see trends, etc. In fact, it's even possible to teach with spreadsheets. Especially since, as this university professor reminds us, many students will have to use it in their future lives. Might as well incorporate it directly into teaching materials to show examples of completed spreadsheets, functionality, etc.
Ideally, such software should be introduced as early as elementary school. Without requiring 7 or 8 year olds to do accounting, it is possible to teach them the basics. What is a cell? Are they able to find a specific one like D4 or F9? A simple exercise as demonstrated here is to ask students to enter into a spreadsheet the number of cars of different colors parked at the school or that have driven by during a period of time. As the years go by, it will be possible to add slightly more complex tasks whether it be basic functions or slightly more advanced formulas.
Teachers can ensure the use of spreadsheets by requiring for some classes the spreadsheet where students will be able to respond. There are also full lessons (in English) using Google Sheets this time, the free version offered by the Google suite. They will learn the basics and be able to think on their feet when it comes to spreadsheets. After all, the idea is that learners should not just become passive consumers but rather understand the software and be able to use it to their heart's content.
Teachers have found an interesting way to instill keyboard shortcuts in Excel. These are very handy but numerous and ultimately difficult to remember especially for people not used to them. So they created a periodic table of shortcuts. They taught this table piece by piece to the students. The students experimented with the ones they had learned each time. Afterwards, a Jeopardy-type session was held in the classroom and they had to answer the statements given by their teacher. A playful method that paid off as the young adults' results were up by about 14% on the questionnaires after the activities.
Is it possible for young and older people who have not had a course to learn how to use spreadsheets, especially Excel? Absolutely. There are a plethora of online solutions specifically for them. This page counts all the Android phone apps to learn more about this software. Whether for beginners or more advanced courses, there are various ways to learn how to use it in the palm of your hand. Many courses are also available on Cursus
Those well-versed in English should visit this site, which lists some 40 online tutorials to learn about Excel. The suggestions start with the basics but also offer advanced tutorials in math, databases, charts, printing a spreadsheet page and even programming with the application. Enough to meet the needs of both neophytes and professionals looking to improve their knowledge.
Illustration: Mika Baumeister on Unsplash
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