Spreadsheet software like the widely used Microsoft Excel is something the general public normally associate with the business world. These days however, the reality is that spreadsheets are not just for accountants and bookkeepers but are actually serving an even greater good. Educators are now utilizing spreadsheets to help educate students in all types of subjects, as well as support many of the functional needs in their classroom. According to Baker and Sugden (2003), “there is no longer a need to question the potential for spreadsheets to enhance the quality and experience of learning that is offered to students.” The relative advantage of spreadsheet software is that it allows students to more easily work with large sets of numbers. For me personally I struggle working with numbers on paper. In a software spreadsheet however, I am better able to perform calculations and manipulate numbers the way I need or want to. Another benefit of something like Excel is that it can incorporate multiple types of data with numbers including text, dates, currency. Students can also represent the data in a spreadsheet visually using the graph and chart functions of the software programs. Using spreadsheets to help visualize complex data is believed to help students more than other static numerical tools (Roblyer and Doering, 2012).

While most people have experience with Excel, or have had exposure to some sort of spreadsheet software, database software is probably more alien to most and not as generally utilized. Working with database software is in my opinion more difficult and time consuming than using spreadsheets, but I ultimately attribute that feeling to my inexperience with the software. Through my entire educational experience, from elementary school through college, I never once had a learning experience that involved database software. However, that doesn’t mean that database software doesn’t bring its own relative advantages to the table in terms of teaching students or helping educators get their job done. Roblyer and Doering (2012), state that databases help students understand how organizations store data, teach them how to mine data for patterns, and facilitate the practice of problems solving. I have not been exposed to using databases for those purposes but I see the potential is there. My personal experience with databases has been accessing information shared by multiple people. I think more educators should consider setting up a class database where students can share their knowledge. Students could collaborate on building a virtual knowledge bank to use for assignments and studying.  


Baker, John and Sugden, Stephen J. (2003) "Spreadsheets in education –The first 25 years,"         Spreadsheets in Education (eJSiE): Vol. 1: Iss. 1, Article 2

Roblyer, M. D., & Doering, A. (2012). Integrating educational technology into teaching. (6th        ed.). Pearson Education Inc.

10/6/2012 02:39:48 am

Spreadsheets are so vital to the business world and they need to be second nature to students so they can master 21st Century skills. I remember when I was in the business world I would cringe every time I had to deal with excel and the formulas. The more we allow students to access these programs and feel comfortable using them the less anxiety they will encounter in a business format.

Mike Karlin
10/6/2012 04:56:14 am

Nice post! I just realized we used the same second source! google scholar search?? Anyway, I like how you brought up databases. I think they often get breezed over or completely left out and the focus is always more on spreadsheets, but they are incredibly important tools as well. Nicely done.

Susan Shannon
10/6/2012 09:30:01 am

I'm with you on facilitating problem solving and collaborating with others. These benefits are at the top of my list for using spreadsheets and databases.

Sarah Putnam
10/7/2012 01:44:50 am

Very nice post. I have had the same experiences/feelings with the use of databases. This past week was the first time I have really done any research on and work with databases. I wonder know why that is the case??

Sandra Dounce
11/16/2014 02:54:00 am

I integrated databases skills into my curriculum, first at a k-8 school (starting in 3rd grade) and then in an intermediate school (grades 6-8). I retired in 2008.

If you want simple instructions on how to use Mircosoft Access (as a flat database) and the filtering portions of Excel, see my ISTE book Database Magic. It includes 15 ready-made databases (science, social studies, literature, history, math, etc) with direction sheets and printable worksheets.. The exercises range from simple searches to analysis questions. This book is a culmination of my experiences teaching the database portion of computer skills.
Sandra Dounce


Leave a Reply.