Thursday, October 13, 2011

Spreadsheets - Class of 2013

Tenzin Khedup
- ITA Tech Instructor -

Spreadsheets, a skill that everybody should know to some extent. The versatility of the the application ranges from budgeting, organizing, inventory and this year, taking surveys.

Previous years when it comes to spreadsheets we have focused mainly on Microsoft's Excel but we are shifting to new tools such as GoogleSpreadsheets. Both are excellent tools but each have their strengths and weaknesses. For example, Excel has more advanced capabilities and has more options when it comes to visualizing and analyzing data, but Google Spreadsheet provides the tools that an average user would require and it is completely free. With the evolution of spreadsheets, we here at ITA try to expose students to both Microsoft Excel as well as Google Spreadsheet.


An example of virtual game board of Battleship in spreadsheet



We began the Spreadsheet unit with a game of Battleship(TM), and students tried to "sink" each others ship by guessing which rows and coloums contained the opposing ships. The purpose of the exercise was to ease the students into getting involved in spreadsheets.







A project that was completely new this year was appropriately called, "Associating Data to Find Possible Trends and Develop a Hypothesis."

It was a big project where we tasked the student with conducting a survey. The purpose was to utilize a great feature of Google Spreadsheet to create a survey and it would automatically keep track of all the responses gathered into nice individual rows. With the data that the students collected over a few weeks, students analyzed the data and created visual charts to present to their classmates the results. And, students were encouraged to also come up with hypotheses from the data they analyzed (mostly for fun though).


As always, we demonstrated the organizational power of Spreadsheets. Being Juniors here at ITA, the students were assigned one last assignment with spreadsheets. They began researching different universities and colleges around the country (and world if they choose to do so). This project also helped students improve their researching skills whether it is a simple Google Search, reading a Wikipedia article about a particular school, or finding a particular department in a school they are interested in.

To cap off the experience, we had the students prepare and play in a tournament style, the infamous "Excel Your Skillz" ITA Excel role-playing game. Again the students were challenged by the game, but came through as champions! It was a ton of fun, and the students learned a LOT from it. Now, going back to playing "BattleShip" will be  breeze!

Excel Game Day Photo Album


Great work everyone!




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