I’ve been teaching in the classroom for eight years. Six of those years have been spent teaching technology skills to young learners, and I can’t imagine a curriculum without the Basic Suite. The Basic Suite includes word-processing, spreadsheet and presentation software. While there are many technology tools available for use in education today, the benefits of these three types of software, for both teacher and student, should not be underestimated or overlooked. The development of these software tools as a cloud based suite has made them even more appealing.
Roblyer reflects that, “Perhaps no other technology resource has had as great an impact on education as word processing.” (2016) Any teacher actively involved in the classroom in today’s world is most likely in agreement. Word processing has simplified the life of the teacher and the student. The teacher sees that the benefits of word processing are numerous and have made tasks like writing lesson plans, creating materials for those lesson plans and tracking student behavior more efficient. To truly appreciate the ease of use of a word processing software, imagine making changes to a hard copy during or after the creation process in the same way we edit a digital copy. Editing digital text is made simple as the user is able to copy/paste large amounts of text, easily erase several words or an entire paragraph with the stroke of a key, insert a page or a table at any location during any time of the creation process, and change font style, color and size. In order to accomplish the same tasks on a hard copy, the user would need markers, scissors, tape, glue, and whiteout, and the final product would be sloppy and messy. The result of using the digital features available in a word processing software is a neater, more professional looking product in less time.
In addition to the outstanding editing capabilities of word processing, the benefits of the cloud based versions make it an even more irresistible resource. It allows students to share their document with teachers for immediate feedback. Teachers can access the document from any computer with an internet connection and make suggestions on the student document that become visible immediately. Peer editing can happen in person or via the internet as well. Students can even participate in a group project, working in a document simultaneously or individually as time and circumstance allows.
The next resource in the Basic Suite is the spreadsheet, one of my favorite and most frequently used tools! At the beginning of each year, I create a spreadsheet for every class and section I will teach. As a technology teacher with 12 classes, changes are constantly being made throughout the year with enrollment. Having a digital copy of my gradebook makes it simple to remove or hide a student who leaves the school, and add a row at any spot in my spreadsheet for a student entering the school. I can also easily track the progress of my students by highlighting pertinent information about students, such as: who has met the typing goal, has a missing assignment or is struggling in a particular subject. I also often create rubrics for individual assignments or projects. At the bottom, under the points possible column, I enter a formula that calculates total points from the points earned in each category for that assignment. Spreadsheets make my life as an educator more simple, organized and efficient.
Using spreadsheets with students has its advantages as well. I love using spreadsheets in the computer lab to reinforce mathematical concepts the students have learned in the classroom. In the younger grades, students play Battleship to help them understand coordinates. We take surveys or use data provided by the teacher and organize it in a spreadsheet. Then, we manipulate the data by calculating the sum, difference, product, quotient, average, etc. Story problems come to life as information is organized and manipulated by students in a spreadsheet. Data can be further visualized and analyzed as students create graphs. All of these tools combined are engaging students in math, which I believe is one of the greatest benefits of the spreadsheet.
The third resource in the Basic Suite is presentation software. Perhaps because of its overuse in the past, and the variety of alternative methods for presenting information to students, this is the least used software in my classroom. Even though I rarely use it, I can clearly the advantages. In my computer lab, I use it as an instructional tool for younger students as an excellent way to experience their first research project. I have them participate in an animal research project where they select an animal, gather facts (teacher directed, of course) and organize those facts into a presentation in order to share the information they have gathered.
I appreciate and agree with the summary offered at the end of the the chapter in Roblyer’s book in the overview of the “Basic Three.” He states the “benefits of these programs include improved productivity, appearance and accuracy, and more support for interaction and collaboration.” (2016) This is why life without the Basic Suite is practically unimaginable!
Roblyer, M.D. (2016). Integrating Educational Technology Into Teaching [eText]. Retrieved from www.pearsonhighered.com/etextbooks.