Monday, July 11, 2016

Module 1: The "Basic Three" Software Tools in Education

The three basic software tools used in education are word processing, spreadsheets, and presenters. These three tools allow teachers with a variety of methods by which to organize and execute classroom tasks and activities both in administrative and instructional capacities.

Word processing supports a variety of instructional and administrative techniques. Roblyer & Doering (2013) note that a "teacher can use [word processing] to support any directed instruction of constructionist activity." (pg. 116) This versatility allows word processing to be utilized across a wide variety of subjects, allowing for flexible templates that can be shared by teachers across disciplines. Additionally, word processing saves time for teachers by allowing materials to be modified instead of created from scratch which helps when it comes to correcting errors and conducting rewrites (Roblyer & Doering, 2013, pg. 116)

Spreadsheet software is more limited in its application but is no less useful. According to Roblyer & Doering (2013), "Teachers use them primarily to keep budgets and gradebooks and to help teach mathematical topics." (pg. 122) This emphasis on numerical data gives spreadsheet software a focus that word processors and presenters sometimes lack. Roblyer & Doering (2013) also note that spreadsheets are excellent tools for projecting hypothetical, or "what if," scenarios. (pg. 122) By plugging data into various cells, teachers are able to project tangible quantities like future grades or potential expenses.

Presenters, like PowerPoint, are "designed to display information, including text, images, audio, and video, in a slideshow format." (Roblyer & Doering, 2003, pg. 128) This type of software is excellent for organizing lectures and increasing the impact of oral instruction. It also offers students versatility when it comes to their own assignments, as presenters are generally fairly user-friendly and have a sizeable suite of tools available for the organization of information. However, some studies have shown that presenters may have little to no positive effect on a classroom. (Roblyer & Doering, 2003, pg. 128)

Presenters provide a unique opportunity for English teachers to center a classroom discussion around important thematic elements. For instance, if I were to teach "The Old Man and the Sea," a presenter could be used to display images of the types of rigging and fishing equipment the fisherman utilizes over the course of the story. By visualizing these often obscure items, students will be able to better comprehend the Christological imagery inherent in Santiago's character. By examining the cross-shaped mast and seeing the circular holes that the fisherman's line cut into his hands, a discussion on the sacrificial nature of Santiago's voyage is facilitated. Additionally, these images could be doled out in a specific slide order so as to allow the students to organically put the pieces together, so to speak. I could display images of less obvious items first and allow the students the opportunity to make intellectual leaps towards the Christ metaphor before introducing more clear cut images like the cross-shaped mast. Presenters could provide many other literary works with similar visual aides and could further facilitate intelligent discussion. The possibilities are seemingly endless.

Additional Classroom Options for PowerPoint:


Roblyer, M.D. & Doering, A.H. (2013). Integrating educational technology into teaching (6th ed.). Columbus, OH: Merrill Prentice Hall.


  1. I find it interesting how you described using PowerPoint for conveying metaphors and other themes using imagery. You followed one of the PowerPoint guidelines which states, "use graphics to help communicate and expand upon the content, not for the sake of using graphics alone" (Roblyer and Doering, 2013, p. 131). The use of images is a great concept for abstract ideas in literature as it allows students to actively understand the author's underlying message.

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  3. Hey there Jake,

    Just as you said in your blog, spreadsheets are definitely useful for teachers when it comes to organizing numerical data and even projecting future grades, however, what about the kids who fear math? Spreadsheets can be scary to students when used for math lessons. Roblyer and Doering (2012) state that teachers "must first address students' tendency to fear mathematics" and then "allow time for students to become comfortable with the software" (p. 125). What are some fun and informative ways that we can teach students how spreadsheet software is useful even with math?

  4. I believe you are selling spreadsheet software by saying it is more limited than the other software discussed. While it is true spreadsheets are mostly used for mathematical purposes they have many more organizational qualities that have little or no math involved. Roblyer and Doering(2012) address these other uses for spreadsheets stating " Although spreadsheet programs are intended for numerical data, their capability to store information in columns makes them ideal tools for designing informational charts such as schedules and attendance list that may contain few numbers and no calculations at all." (p. 122) So whole they me the last type of software and teacher thinks of using outside of grade-books and budgets they may actually be one of the more versatile of the basic three.