Spread the Word

Spreadsheets are a powerful learning tool for mathematics. But as Niess, Lee and Kajder point out, the technology is a "cognitive tool that can enhance student learning of content material in many different content areas." The technology can be enormously useful in communication arts. This investigation of spreadsheets includes a brief overview, a look at technology standards and potential applications in a high school speech class.

In Guiding Learning with Technology, the spreadsheet is defined as is "a tool for collecting, displaying, and analyzing information." The text goes on to say that as students work through different problems, "they begin to recognize that spreadsheets are more than mathematical tools." Students start to see spreadsheet software as a technology to explore social, ethical, and human issues. Understood in this way, the spreadsheet is a multifaceted communication arts tool. Spreadsheet software is a productivity tool, a problem-solving tool and a communication tool as well.

Working with a spreadsheet increases productivity because the speed of making complex calculations saves time. The ripple effect of a spreadsheet allows the user to change one bit of data and instantly see the recalculated results.

Solving problems and making sound decisions are vital in the area of speech - communications. Through the use of spreadsheets, students are able to see patterns and relationships between concepts involved within the larger subject of their learning task. Decision-making is aided by the ability to analyze and interpret information through the manipulation of data on the fly.

Spreadsheets communicate information through various types of charts and graphs. As a communications tool, spreadsheet software can obviously be used to create visual aids for speeches and presentations.

Spreadsheets could be used in any number of ways for high school speech class. One way is to use the tool to develop persuasive arguments on the pro or con side of a debate topic. Spreadsheets allow a student to ask "What if?"  Spreadsheets are also tools for analyzing and interpreting speeches.

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