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Alice La Rooy - Design Narrative for Excel Training

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Alice La Rooy
26 March 2013

Excel Training for first year University Students - within an Engineering Module

Narrator

I was working as an IT Trainer at a University back in 2008 and I was part of a team of trainers.  We were all working on creating lessons plans and activities that would be relevant to the student's field of study - rather than using off the shelf materials that are often suited to adminstrative uses.  At this stage the timetables for teaching had not been produced so we did not know exactly which one of us would take each class.

Situation

This module had 4 hours dedicated to Excel training split across 2x 1hr classes and 1x 2hr hour class.  The classes were to be in an IT Classroom where every student would have a pc to work at. The students had a range of IT skills and the purpose of the classes were to give some students an introduction to more advanced uses of excel and allow interesting practise exercises for those with experience already.

Task

We were trying to ensure each student in the class had a baseline experience and confidence in Excel because other modules these students would take at higher levels would require a certain degree of assumed knowledge.

Actions

I contacted the module tutor to find out what skills within excel he wanted the students to learn.  I also spoke to the IT trainers who had taught excel on this module in previous years.  from this I determined the lessons learning outcomes. I decided to customise an existing lesson plan to cover the first two 1hour sessions.  I still had another 2 hours of teaching to plan so I devised an Energy Bill Calculator template that the students would complete formulas within and format for the purpose of estimating their own electricity bills.  The lesson was tutor-led and files were downloaded from Blackboard/WebCT and a solution was posted there after class.

Results

There was a bigger range of IT experience in the class than I had anticipated.  As a result I had to demonstrate on the projector at a slower pace than I anticipated.  Some students stopped following along and checked facebook and emails instead - then asked questions as they 're-joined the class'.

Reflections

Based on the experience of this class I redesigned a future lesson (on powerpoint) as a self-paced worksheet.  I introduced the next lesson by talking about some key skills they would be practising and showing a finished example and then passed out the detailed instructions on how to complete the exercise.  That way students with additional questions could use more of my time and those who had much more experiece could work away at their own pace. 

Because the timetables were not set when I designed this session I had to make very detailed notes about how to the complete the activity.  So for anyone interested in how to calculate the costs of running electrical appliances within an excel spreadsheet...you can download my lesson plan and excel file here.

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