Post #4: Using Spreadsheets/Databases in the Classroom
Spreadsheets and Databases are part of three basic software tools considered basic educational resources (Roblyer). A spreadsheet is a grid with rows and columns. Each intersecting point of the grid is called a “cell”. Alphabetic and/or numeric data can be entered into a cell. The primary use of a spreadsheet is to represent, organize and manipulate numerical data. The power of spreadsheets comes for the ability to write and embed formulas. These formulas range from the very simple (calculating a sum or average) to the very complex (statistical and engineering). In addition, spreadsheets are also used to filter/sort data, represent it visually using charts, and perform “what-if’ analysis.
The relative advantage of using spreadsheets in education is their ability to help students understand mathematics (Roblyer). Spreadsheets give students a better way to organize numbers, perform basic math calculations, and do math problem solving. Another advantage is the ability of spreadsheets to access the internet directly and provide real time data (Thorsen). These web queries allow for students to customize their data selection and see it updated automatically over time. A good example real time, dynamic data is weather and stock market feeds.
A database is a data storage and data organization program. The organization of data is key to easy information retrieval. Databases store both numeric and text data effectively. The spreadsheet grid of rows and columns is the starting point for a database. Called “tables” in a database, it is the form in which data is stored. A key to good database design is reducing data redundancy by linking tables together and forming data relationships. Databases include data input and reporting features (Sharpe).
The relative advantage of using databases in education is their ability to help students understand data relationships and perform information searches (Roblyer). Database table design and table relationships allow students to create queries against the data and retrieve information in new ways. It also shows them the importance of data entry into a database by defining data validation input rules.
Roblyer, M. D. Integrating Educational Technology into Teaching (4th Edition)http://wps.prenhall.com/chet_roblyer_integrate_4/38/9796/2507811.cw/index.html
Thorsen, C. Tech Tactics: Technology for Teachers (3rd Edition)http://edtech.boisestate.edu/techtactics/Chapter10_12x.htm
Sharp, Vicki F Integrating Computer Education for Teachers (6th Edition)