Sunday, June 1, 2008 - 13:19
In part I, I wrote about my first semester of teaching on-line and talked about our challenges with technology. Blackboard had a database corruption event during finals week and I had all kinds of struggles with the Windows version of Microsoft Excel. Mike wrote and asked if I thought students should be working more with non-Microsoft software and what I thought the challenges would be in doing so. I can answer with a totally unqualified "it depends." First, I think knowing how to use a spread-sheet program is an advantage in many different kinds of fields and even in real-life, outside of school. I've been using Microsoft Excel for 19 years for many different kinds of things and it's very useful. Lately, I've been using Google Docs, too, since I can share my spread sheets in Google Docs, more easily with other people. But that's me. If it were totally up to me, I'd say that all the students should just use what I'm using. That would certainly make my life easier. But I also think that would be incredibly selfish and would defeat the purpose of why I teach. I don't teach classes to benefit myself, I teach classes to help the students. If students had wanted to use Open Office or some alternative, that would have been fine with me. My goal was for them to properly analyze the data. What about the students? For students, the choice of a program should depend on these items:
- What program will students be expected to know when they graduate?
- What program has the features that are needed?
- What program are the other instructors using?