Relative Advantage of Spreadsheets/Databases

Overview

Spreadsheets and databases can be used in a number of ways to enhance learning. Spreadsheets help people visualize the graphic nature of numbers adding a level of enjoyment for students who may find math or statistics boring.  Spreadsheets also provide an excellent method for logging data and quickly seeing how numbers work together. This data can be changed rapidly and accurately when new data arrives or if the person working with the numbers wants to check for alternative results. Databases are wonderful tools for locating information quickly through key word searches. Databases store vast sums of information allowing users to keep track of ideas and data while simultaneously adding more, current data to the database. Databases are excellent for gathering and building upon information.

Spreadsheets and Databases in the EFL Classroom

As spreadsheets most commonly find use within math and social studies classes, employing their calculating facilities in the EFL classroom can be quite a challenge. For the most part, using spreadsheets to teach language learning is quite limited.  In my experience, I only use spreadsheets to track and calculate grades.  Databases, on the other hand, are much more useful in my opinion. Students can keep track of word lists, building up personal dictionaries where definitions, word forms, usages and translation can be quickly searched. Extensive reading lists can be kept and added to allowing students to contribute synopses that other students can use when choosing a new book to read. One of the best methods for databases I have found is sharing teaching materials with colleagues. Whenever someone creates or locates great lessons plan or materials, they can quickly upload them to the database where others can access them easily.

It is clear that spreadsheets and databases are very useful in the right settings. They can save time, make information highly visible, allow users to track data, and let users see relevant information from the past before adding new information in the present.

References

Roblyer, M. D., & Doering, A. H. (2010). Integrating Educational Technology into Teaching (5th ed.). Needham Heights, MA: Allyn And Bacon.