Teachers and school administrators have lots of data. lots and lots of data. Grades, test results, attendance information, behavior reports, often budget numbers, and well it goes on and on. People would be surprised at how much information teachers and school administrators have to deal with. It can be overwhelming.
For good teachers the shear amount of grades can be oppressive. Quizzes, homework assignments, in-class exercises, tests, projects, class participation, and attendance all add up (no pun intended) to a massive amount of data to store, correlate and somehow develop into a report card grade. And more importantly, much more important than required grades, to use to assess student learning.
One of the things I used to do as a technology coordinator was to provide teacher training opportunities to help teachers use technology, various computer applications, to manage all that data. Excel was and continues to be a useful tool for teachers. But not everyone has the time or interest in long training sessions. Recently I found another way for teachers to learn Excel.
There is a new site available called School Data Tutorials that has a large set of video tutorials that are specifically tailored to the needs of teachers and school administrators. From the Welcome message:
The tutorials on this site highlight many of the Excel skills that are helpful when working with building- and district-level data. These tutorials are targeted at data managers, principals, guidance counselors, teachers, and other school personnel who have the responsibility for collecting, analyzing, and reporting K-12 performance data.
I've looked at a couple of them and at the list of topics. They seem really quite good. I like that they are short and can be consumed in reasonable time periods that make them easier to fit into a teacher's tight schedule. I also like that they are specifically designed for teachers and use the types of data that teachers and administrators are familiar and comfortable with already. And I think the set of topics will open a lot of new ways of managing and looking at data for many people.
Most people use only a small percentage of the power of their software - Excel and other spreadsheets are prime examples of this - but with a little more knowledge they can see large jumps in usefulness of the data they already have. These tutorials have the potential to help a lot of people.
I think a lot of people who are not teachers will find them useful as well.