• Web-based Career & Technical Education

How to Teach Spreadsheets With Stories

December 5th, 2017 Mike Gecawich

Nearly everyone can remember the story of The Turtle and the Hare with it’s ever applicable moral.

Slow and steady wins the race. 

This moral is an important one that can be applied to plenty of contexts.

Nonetheless, it’s much easier to remember this lesson through the story of a perseverant turtle overconfident hare.

All on its own this moral wouldn’t be nearly as memorable.

As it turns out, the reason we remember things better in the form of stories has to do with science.

Our brains are hardwired to map new information into familiar patterns.

The traditional sequence of a story (beginning, problem, resolution, ending) is a pattern that our brains learn to recognize at a young age.

When we come into contact with information that fits this pattern, we are much more likely to remember it, regardless of the context.

Consequently, delivering content to students through a story is likely to help them retain and then apply new information.

Whether teaching scientific concepts through the story of their discovery or playing up the plethora of stories available in world history, stories can make content sticky for students.

Think using stories in technical education is a stretch? Think again!

Using Stories to Teach Spreadsheets

While teaching spreadsheets and other computer skills through stories might require a little creativity, it is totally within the realm of possibility.

At iAcademy, all of our activities come in the form of stories.

Some stories come in the form of short, one-off examples.

Students might need to complete an exercise where they assume the role of a music producer using a spreadsheet to solve a marketing problem.

Other iAcademy resources use stories that are evolving and develop over the course of a semester.

In courses such as the Restaurant Entrepreneur students participate in a simulation of starting a business.

With each lesson, the challenges shift and the plot develops all the while teaching students valuable computer skills.

By the end of the course, they will have a clear story onto which they can map their new learning.

Regardless of which types of activities students learn from, the use of stories will help them put their learning in a real context that they won’t soon forget.

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