Tag Archives: teaching strategies

Teaching Microsoft Applications: Encourage Individuality, Encourage Experimentation

By Alex Scott, triOS College; Author of Labyrinth Learning’s Microsoft® Excel 2016 Comprehensive

Over years of using and teaching Microsoft Office programs, I’ve often wondered why there are so many ways to do the same thing. Many users are familiar with at least two methods of executing a common task like copy and paste using keyboard shortcuts or the context menu. But for new users, alternatives methods can be intimidating and difficult to remember.

Students with tablet

In my class I tell my students there are usually at least three ways to do the same thing! For example, say I want to copy the word “Microsoft” and use it in another location. I have four options:

  • Ribbon commands
  • Right-click to open the menu of commands
  • Keyboard shortcuts
  • Drag and drop

How do students know which method to choose?

Start Where You Are Comfortable

New Way and Old Way

New users can feel overwhelmed by these options, so focusing on one approach is a great way to start.  I tell them to focus on the method that makes most sense for them, whatever they are comfortable with. Everyone learns differently, and each student can decide what is right for them.

Experiment!

As their confidence increases, I encourage them to try different ways, to see how the task might be done easier or faster using a different method. More experienced users sometimes get into the habit of using the same method to do all tasks, so even students who are familiar with Office programs can benefit from trying new techniques.

Implement Methods That Increase Productivity

In the work world it isn’t just about getting the work done, it’s also about getting things done quickly and efficiently, using the best method possible.

I’ve noticed patterns when I use certain methods. When I was writing my Excel textbook, a big part of the work was using Word to format and edit the content I drafted. I found that when I made a simple change – using shortcuts for copying and formatting – my time was drastically decreased!

Even as an advanced user, I find myself going back to the Ribbon—even for tasks that would be accomplished more quickly using the mouse or keyboard. The key is to know as many different methods as possible, and to remind yourself to look for an alternative approach to complete a task instead of always doing things the same way.

The best way to do something isn’t necessarily the way you’ve done it in the past, and methods that work for some situations aren’t always the best for others.

Be willing to experiment and you will gain productivity!

Teaching According to Your Students’ Strengths

Image courtesy of artur84 at FreeDigitalPhotos.net
Image courtesy of artur84 at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Every person has aptitudes in different areas, and different ways in which they learn and absorb information best. Psychologist Howard Gardner proposed the theory that there are eight different types of intelligences which everyone possesses a blend of to varying degrees. They are linguistic, spatial, mathematical-logical, kinesthetic, musical, interpersonal, intrapersonal, and naturalistic. By incorporating a variety of teaching methods, tools, activities, and assignments into your classes, you can engage the greatest number of students in the material being taught, and ensure that they absorb and retain the lessons and skills they learn.

Here are some methods to teach according to each intelligence. The best part is that many of these methods are useful across multiple intelligences, making it even easier to reach as many students as possible with any one method.

Linguistic intelligence has to do with the ability to use written and verbal language to learn and express oneself.

  • Lecture and hold class discussions
  • Write out notes and lists during lectures or project them to the class on a computer
  • Distribute articles and assign internet research
  • Assign reading and writing assignments

Spatial intelligence involves the ability to think in pictures, images, and physical space.

  • Use PowerPoint presentations with labeled photos and screenshots of the subject at hands
  • Show videos and have students use simulation exercises
  • Create charts and tables to break down information

Kinesthetic intelligence deals with the awareness of the body, touch, and movement.

  • Assign hands-on activities
  • Use repetition of newly learned skills to memorize and improve those skills
  • Use simulation exercises and test questions

Mathematical-logical intelligence has to do with the ability to use reasoning skills and think conceptually and abstractly in order to solve complex problems.

  • Assign comprehensive projects that require students to use a variety of lessons and skills they’ve learned throughout the course
  • Assign critical thinking and analysis assignments

Interpersonal intelligence involves the ability to effectively interact with others.

  • Hold class discussions and debates
  • Assign group (or partnered) activities and projects
  • Assign presentations where students demonstrate or teach a lesson or skill

Intrapersonal intelligence is the awareness and understanding of one’s own thoughts, feelings, ideas, and goals.

  • Have students identify their goals for what they hope to accomplish in your course and their careers, and plan ways to achieve them
  • Connect the material being taught to students’ personal experiences
  • Allow students to choose their own topics for certain assignments and projects

Our full solutions contain many different resources to engage a multitude of strengths. To learn more about our full solutions for computer science or business and accounting courses, contact us at Labyrinth Learning today.