There are three tools that are part of the basic suite of programs used by both teachers and students. They are word processing, spreadsheet, and presentation software. These programs offer several benefits including improved productivity, appearance, accuracy, and increased interaction and collaboration (Roblyer, 2016).
Word processing software allows the user to create typed documents with text and graphics. According to Roblyer (2016), this type of software has become one of the most commonly used in the educational setting. Because I teach computers, I repeatedly use this tool with all of my students in kindergarten through eighth grade. Word processing software offers the relative advantages of time, a more polished appearance, materials sharing, collaboration, and the support of student writing and language learning (Roblyer, 2016). As a teacher, I often use Microsoft Word or Google Docs to create handouts, forms, and documents used in my lessons. I save anything I create in Word to Dropbox and my Google Docs can be accessed anywhere. This saves time because I do not have to reinvent the wheel and can alter the documents from year to year as needed. By using word processing tools, the documents my students and I create are neater and more polished which creates a professional appearance and makes it easier for everyone to read. More and more, I am creating my documents on Google Docs because of its abilities to easily share my work with my colleagues. I also use it with my junior high students so that they can share documents with me and each other. I like the idea of being paperless and the instantaneous ability for us to collaborate and edit documents together. Word processing tools allow my students to enhance their writing and communication skills as they type papers and reports. I also like how they use the text translation tools found in the word processing tools when they complete assignments for their Spanish class.
Spreadsheets are used to organize, manipulate, and display data (Roblyer, 2016). There are many relative advantages to using spreadsheets in education including saving time, organizing information, and increasing motivation when working with math computations (Roblyer, 2016). In my school, we use Google Sheets to keep track of progress monitoring for students in reading and math. We are able to share and edit this information in real-time with the colleagues in our PLC’s and with our resource teachers in order to determine our students’ educational needs and groupings for RTI. Through the use of formulas, it is easy to color code who might need additional help, who is understanding the information, and who needs enrichment. I use spreadsheets in my computer class to keep track of students’ typing test scores and in the library to keep track of students rotation in centers. Projects that I have completed with my students in the computer lab have covered creating formulas, organizing information into a table, sorting data, creating a budget, and creating bar, line, and pie graphs. I would have to say that they enjoy creating the graphs especially when they can customize the look of the graphs. My students use this tool the most during science fair time to display the data from their experiments.
Presentation software displays text, images, audio, and video in a slide show format (Roblyer, 2016). It is routinely used in the educational setting. Presentation software allows the presenter to organize information, break it into smaller parts, and present it in sequential order. A well designed presentation supplements the speaker’s explanation. Those working on a presentation can collaborate in a variety of ways to the final presentation product (Roblyer, 2016). Many of the teachers in my school use PowerPoint to help guide their students while taking notes in class. I usually use it to project information to my students and occasionally for lessons. I have to admit that I avoid PowerPoint as much as possible because typically the students eyes glaze over as soon as a large presentation is projected on the screen. The main reason I use presentation software with my students in the computer lab is to increase their ability to create a proper presentation and gain practice in public speaking. My students in grades 4-6 love creating presentations. It is often a challenge to get them to condense the amount of information on each slide and limit the amount of transitions and animations. They love movement on the slide and adding graphics. I work very hard with them to ensure that their presentation is not too over the top. They also struggle with being able to present their information rather than read off the slide, and many of the students are more focused on what is on the screen rather than listening to the information their classmate is presenting. My junior high students are a lot better at presenting their information, but I often try to find something a little more interesting than using Google Slides or PowerPoint because they find it old and boring. When they are doing presentations, I often have them choose an online tool such as Prezi or VoiceThread to make it more interesting.
I feel that teachers use the three software tools described above on a daily basis. It is important for students to work and obtain proficiency with these tools too. They are widely used in our society and students will need to be familiar with them as they move throughout their educational experiences and into the workforce.
Roblyer, M. D. (2016). Integrating educational technology into teaching (Seventh ed., pp. 109-136). Upper Saddle River, NJ: Pearson.