What are some best practices for teaching with Microsoft Excel?

Presented below are some general considerations and best practices for teaching with Microsoft Excel spreadsheet tool. 
When teaching with Excel in a public computing lab, the computer platform and version of Microsoft Excel available will be consistent. The Microsoft Excel accessible in a computer lab is the desktop Excel experience.  When a computer lab is not available, consistency among the computer platform and versions of Microsoft Excel can present a challenge to teaching data analysis. One solution to this is to leverage the Excel available through Office 365. There are two options for using this resource. 
Option 1 - Desktop Excel Office 365 (Download)
The first option is to install Microsoft Excel Office 365. This version of Microsoft Excel provides a classic desktop software experience. The directions for completing this can be found in this TDX article, "Adding Microsoft Office 365 on a Personal Computer" https://hws.teamdynamix.com/TDClient/1889/Portal/KB/ArticleDet?ID=68526. Depending on the platform (Mac or PC) is installed to, there will be differences in the interfaces.  The difference in the interfaces will present challenges primarily during synchronous teaching. This can present less of an issue for asynchronous teaching and independent assignments as video resources can be leveraged that are targeted at the Excel available on different platforms. 
Access to instructional videos (Infobase) for Microsoft Excel can be found here:
Note: There is a Canvas Commons support module available that can be used as a guide for accessing Infobase: "Getting Started with Infobase".
For guidance on searching for and using resources found in Canvas Commons please read the Canvas Instructor Guide "How do I use Commons?":
Option 2 - Excel Online Office 365
The second option is to use Microsoft Excel in the cloud. This option provides Excel as a web-based tool. The only requirement for students to use Excel in the cloud is an internet connection and a browser. The recommended browsers for working with this resource are: Chrome, Firefox, or Opera. Users should avoid using Safari and Edge. This version of Excel is not as robust as the downloaded version, but it has less setup time and creates a common user interface experience across all student computer platforms. 
Access to Excel for the Web can be found here: https://www.office.com/.
All HWS users can sign into the school account using their assigned email address and HWS password. 
Below are the major difference between the Excel in the cloud and Excel download: 
Data Analysis Feature
Excel for the Web (Office 365 on the Web)
Excel for the Desktop (Download)
Advanced Analysis - Regressions (Toolpak)
**This resource is now available for the Mac version 
Advanced Analysis Views (Power Pivot)
Create External Data Features
Summary of what is available in Excel on the Web can be found here:
A short description of the differences between Excel for the web and Excel for the Desktop can be found here:
Other options:
If teaching data analysis with Microsoft Excel is not imperative, there are other options to consider:
Google Sheets:
  • Pro - online with no need to download. Inclusive of all platforms including chromebooks
  • Cons - does not necessarily use the functions that are used in Excel

LibreOffice Calc is an open source option for spreadsheet analysis. Find out more about the LibreOffice project here: https://www.libreoffice.org/

  • Pros - Free to use and is available for PC, Mac and Linux operating systems
  • Cons - Not Excel. Some features Excel features are not available. 
Print Article


Article ID: 114401
Thu 8/20/20 3:26 PM
Fri 2/12/21 4:21 PM