The expectation that those coming into the field of education will utilize technology appropriately with the school curriculum can pose challenges for those new to the field, or relatively new. Educators may know how to use technology for their own productivity, but may not understand the best ways to use it to increase student learning and to engage student interest.
In lesson two types of productivity software are explored, and spreadsheets and databases are specifically discussed in your textbook. How to most effectively use these two types of software in the classroom is explored.
Because Microsoft Office Excel and Access are the most commonly used pieces of software in this field, they are discussed heavily. Alternative software products can also be used. Open Office offers free Microsoft Office Excel and Access-compatible software called Open Office Calc and Open Office Base that can be downloaded from the Internet. Google Docs and Zoho Creator are Web-based database and spreadsheet packages that may also be used in the classroom and are gaining in popularity.
Lever-Duffy, McDonald, and Mizell (2010) defined productivity software as typically “generic business application software that educators can use and adapt for administrative and professional tasks” (p. 170). This software is generally designed to make people more productive on the job and to improve their efficiency. It can be used to produce documents, brochures, charts, graphs, and newsletters. Productivity software has the potential to enhance teaching and learning in the classroom because it can engage students in the learning process. Productivity software includes programs for applications such as word processing, database creation, spreadsheet creation, graphics presentation, and desktop publishing (DTP).
A List of Selected Productivity Software and Sample Applications
Type of Software Example of Software
Word Processing Microsoft Office Word
Open Office Writer
Spreadsheets Microsoft Office Excel
Open Office Calc
Databases Microsoft Office Access
FileMaker Pro (older)
Presentation Microsoft Office PowerPoint
Open Office Impress
Desktop Publishing Microsoft Office Publisher
How is Productivity Software Used in Education?
Productivity Software Educational Uses
Word Processing Preparing letters, memos, reports, flyers, rubrics, unit and lesson plans, newsletters, and forms
Preparing study sheets, posters, study guides, and class notes
Students are helped to prepare stories, essays, and individual and group reports
Helps students to illustrate writing and outlining skills
Spreadsheets Preparing budgets, numeric tables and summaries, grade and attendance rosters (when needed), inventory of classroom materials
Preparing visuals (charts) of various types of numeric data
Gives students ways to track and analyze data, and to create charts, visually demonstrate “what-if” analyses
Supports student research (tracking stock market data, scientific data)
Databases Organize and track student data
Prepare class inventories and reports
Provide easy access to lists of academic resources, lesson plans,
Provide support for students tracking data not suitable for spreadsheet analysis
Prepare targeted summaries of content or resources to address student needs – especially useful with special needs students reporting
Presentations Create presentations for student lectures, workshops, conferences, and meetings.
Create extensive class lectures through text, audio, and visual elements when relevant
Create student worksheets to accompany classroom instruction (via notes area)
Allow student presentations of research, creative adventures, fieldtrip review, interviews
Desktop Publishing Create presentations of text and images,