As a teacher I think that a day without spreadsheets will be like a day without sunshine. I can’t imagine any better way to store and organize my data for the classroom. Spreadsheets are perfect for easy data entry, quick calculations, and somehow it manages to look good while doing it. I actually have had a lot of experience using programs like Excel in my schooling because of my science focus. I have put way too many numbers and ran way too many tests on data in my years in school but it still amazes me every time how darn easy it is. Once you get the hang of spreadsheets they really just do become second nature and anything you could want to do is just intuitive.
Using it as a TeacherEdit
I plan on using spreadsheets primarily for grading purposes. Excel makes it so easy to enter numbers, easy as typing the number and hitting enter. I can even let the program do all the math for me too! Things like class averages, grade weighting, and statistical analysis are a breeze when you have the skill set to use Excel properly. There can be some problems with using excel though. One common mistake is not entering data correctly. If you mix up one number or skip a number during transfer it can mess up the entire spreadsheet. So it’s important to take care while you are entering data and it’s always a good idea to have a handwritten record of grades as well. Having a tangible grade book is important because it is a reference for the data in Excel and if the computer crashes the data will still be accessible through the grade book. That leads me to my other issue with keeping grades on computers and that is to make sure that you back up your data! There are so many programs out there, like DropBox that make it really easy to make sure that the files won’t disappear if your computer decides to crash. As the famous rapper Sean Paul once said, “Back, back, back it up.”
While there are many software programs designed specifically to allow teachers to enter and analyze grades, I still think I’m going to stay loyal to my bud, Microsoft Excel. We’ve been through a lot together and I know his ins and outs pretty thoroughly by now. My experience with the program allows me to be comfortable when performing analysis through it, so that’s one advantage over another software program that I would have to learn from scratch. Another advantage is that by using a spreadsheet to analyze data, you have to actually have a concrete idea of what you want from the data and you also have to have an understanding of what you need to do to obtain the information. With a lot of these software programs information just pops up but you have no idea how they manipulated the data to arrive at their answer. With Excel you have to do command the computer yourself and therefore you know exactly where and what the information is. The spreadsheet allows for a much more intimate experience with the data, which is just what a science gal like me likes.