Thursday, March 6, 2014

Excel Workshop Comparison: Online Tutorials versus an In-Person Instruction Seminar

     Recently, I advanced my understanding of Excel using online and in-person methods. Online, I used tutorials provided by to learn about the Excel 2010 and 2013 product; in-person, I attended a 90-minute instruction session about Excel 2010 provided by the Department of Information Technology at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. 

     Each type of instruction course offered advantages and disadvantages. The online was good in the respect that one can skip irrelevant tutorials, rewind tutorials for clarity, and learn at an individual’s preferred pace. However, these online tutorials lacked the dynamic of a live performance. Whether I am watching a Webinar about California auto insurance laws, or if I am watching tutorials about Microsoft Excel, neither are engaging for me. 

     The in-person instruction session was small enough that it was an interactive session, and the time limit (90 minutes) meant that its aim was not to cover the breadth of Excel like, but rather highlights that may not be known to the novice Excel user. This session taught quick ways to use formulas, charts, and sparklines to show data trends. It also provided a workshop Excel document so that attendees could experience hands-on what was being demonstrated by the instructor. Pedagogically, I found this very beneficial. The instructor was also able to answer questions or help with issues, which was not available on However, the in-person information session dragged on and on about charts towards the end, and unlike the tutorial, one cannot completely mute a live instructor.

     While both forms of instruction are valid forms of educational tools, and each serves slightly different functions ( is comprehensive and available when desired, the in-person tutorial is limited in scope but live), if I had to choose one method as the best, if would be the in-person instruction.

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