What are Spreadsheets and Data Bases?Screen_shot_2009-10-12_at_2.24.52_PM.png800px-OpenOffice.org_Calc.png

Spreadsheet: a computer program used chiefly for accounting, in which figures arranged in the rows and columns of a grid can be manipulated and used in calculations. Spreadsheet programs can graph your calculations and generate printable tables. A common example of a spreadsheet would be a statistics listing generated by Microsoft Excel.
Database: A collection of information records or files that have been consolidated in to a common location for one to access. All databases have a boolean search engine that allows the user to search for keywords, authors, titles, etc. to locate the documents, files, or records that he or she wishes access. Databases can range in size available access and credibility. A common example of a Database is Wikipedia.

What Learning Theories are Most Applicable to the Use of Spreadsheets and Data Bases?
Due to the hands on approaches that are needed to learn the protocol of the programs, constructivism is what guides the learning experience.
Students are exploring the programs that run the information that they are inputting into the interface.
Students need to explore the system in order for them to get the full use out of spreadsheets and databases. Little guidance is necessary for the students to use spreadsheets and databases.

What are the Benefits of Using Spreadsheets and Data Bases?

There are several benefits to using spreadsheets and databases in a classroom setting. The major advantages for using spreadsheets and databases are that it saves time on certain assignments. Spreadsheets can minimize the time and effort used in doing heavy calculations and graphing as both tasks by pen, paper, and calculator can take an unnecessary amount of time to complete, especially when there are other assignment that are due along the same timeline. Databases, as well, save many hours of wandering around the Internet and library shuffling through pages of irrelevant literature.
Databases also compile information together in such a way that the researcher will get hits that are almost completely relevant to the search topic. This will give the researcher plenty of information to work with for any given topic. Spreadsheets as well as saving time by doing complex calculations will also arrange the data so that they are in a logical order that is needed by the input user.

What are the Challenges of Using Spreadsheets and Data Bases?

The challenges to using spreadsheets and databases are that they can be hard to navigate and find the process keys to do the calculation or search you want the program to do for you. Spreadsheets can be tedious to use for operating complex executions. The format of the program can be at times very specific on how you enter the data into the system. A few wrong inputs could lead to errors while calculating. Also some of the graph choices and plotting protocol can become overwhelming, especially when the directions to complete the process are misleading.

Databases searches can also be quite stretching. Advanced search input can send you in an on going circle if the researcher has left fields of input blank or has input the wrong information or guidelines of the search. Before you can use a database you must have a good and specific search field to input. Sometimes, depending on the topic, you can receive thousands of hits on the topic, some not pertaining to the specifics of the topic but the words you input into the search criteria. So you must know the protocol of searching before you decide to search. Most sites do offer a tutorial of how to navigate the database before one chooses to use that database for researching their specific interest or topic.

What Special Guidance Might Help Users of Spreadsheets and Data Bases?

Specific Guidance that is offered to direct those in using spreadsheets and databases are offered through classes designed to teach the various uses of the programs along with how to use each specific input method the best in terms of productivity. There are no special guidance requirements to using a databases or spreadsheet specifically other than to read the manuals or to guess and check the system until you find the best way of using them for your specific needs. Librarians or technicians that are familiar with the specific database or spreadsheet program one is using to complete work will be able to assist in any inconveniencing problems that could be encountered.

What is the Current State of the Research on Spreadsheets and Data Bases?

The current state of research on spreadsheets and databases are how they can be user-friendlier in terms of how their programs were coded. Microsoft had just recently released a new version of their spreadsheet software, Microsoft excel. Updates are being made to finely tune the system and can be downloaded to renew the software for free. Data base technology has seen several updates including a bibliographic converter that would take that bibliographic information and translate it to be used in software that filters the bibliographic information. Databases have also made their interface more fluent and the search guidelines smarter to perform more relevant searches for the user. Databases are updated almost on a daily bases inputting more data and information as well as making them easier to surf.

What Lesson Ideas Might Instructors Consider in Using Spreadsheets and Data Bases?

Lesson ideas for spreadsheets would have students do calculations using various statistics on Microsoft Excel. The students would learn how to use the program and be able to figure out the basics of statistical analysis.

Lesson ideas for databases would have students learning how to search through databases finding facts and information that they would have to answer on a worksheet. Students would become familiar with several databases and know how to search using keywords, names, titles, etc. These skills would help them in searching for a research project information or paper topics.

What Resources Might Instructors Consult When Using Spreadsheets and Data Bases?

There are several resources teachers can consult when using spreadsheets and data bases. There are several instructional manuals that explain how to surf and utilize all the information databases have to offer as well as give directional assistance to using spreadsheets. <Insert topic> for Dummies, Video tutors, and the APA manual are a few examples of these instructional guides.Instructors can also consult colleagues about how they were able to teach their classes about spreadsheets and data bases.