Some more thoughts about Microsoft Excel

I wrote this post ages ago, but just posted it on my facebook page last night. @mfcuk2 commented:

I use Excel too. It’s powerful because every bit of data I need in the classroom is on display, usually via data projector.
Also the spreadsheet has all the data my students need as well. Results, attendance, fees paid and target achievement amongst other info is there for all to see.
Grades change colour by using conditional formatting so it’s instantly obvious which student has a Not Achieved, Achieved, Merit or Excellence. I used to be in the ‘keep all results secret and private’ camp.
I displayed my spreadsheet by accident one day and I discovered one of THE BEST motivational tools I have ever used in the classroom. It’s not naming and shaming, it is motivation and informing students of their progress. Easy peasy!

Motivation is really complicated. When I was 16, I had crazy accounting teacher who sat us in a ‘U’ shape in order of test results. Needless to say I was at the ‘red end.’ He quickly found that all the students down my end talked to each other and things got worse. So he gave up and tried another seating plan – which is how I met my wife…

Also there is a school in the city I live in that takes competition to the extreme. Students are ranked and split into classes. 9a, 9b, 9c etc… Everyone knows how they’re doing compared with their peers. I’m not a fan. The least enthusiastic supporters of this say: “but it works.” I not convinced. I think it produces people that think that academic success is an end in itself.

Anyway, also related to Excel.

I read this great post about software development a few days ago. One of the original writers of Excel spent some time looking at how people were using it:

Over the next two weeks we visited dozens of Excel customers, and did not see anyone using Excel to actually perform what you would call “calculations.” Almost all of them were using Excel because it was a convenient way to create a table.

Most people who love Excel don’t use it for maths. People use it as a database. I find this really interesting.


3 Comments to “Some more thoughts about Microsoft Excel”

  1. GoodGravey 26 January 2012 at 10:07 pm #

    I love Excel too, but I use it primarily as a basis for creating Visual Basic based tools.

    When I joined the team I am in now, they used to created a quarterly security report based on extracts from multiple data sources, with a number of instances of data manipulation, and a lot of manual work. Over the course of a week, I automated the process including automatically extracting the data directly. Including extracting data from Active Directory.

    It now takes 10 minutes.

    Similarly, I’ve used it to create windows-based applications where the individual worksheets hold the data, but all user interaction is through user forms.

    The capacity is endless. Another integrates Excel and Outlook in really cool ways.

    Heck, I’ve even used it to trawl through a list of Facebook pages to keep track of the number of “likes” they have.

    It is just really really cool.

  2. todays date 27 January 2012 at 11:09 pm #

    Very productive PPTA meeting today, discussing and agreeing our new constitution…will be emailed to all members (parents and staff soon)!

  3. learn guitar 21 February 2012 at 1:44 pm #

    I’m curious to find out what blog platform you are using? I’m experiencing some minor security problems with my latest blog and I’d like to find something more risk-free. Do you have any solutions?

Leave a Reply

You must be logged in to post a comment.