Purpose of Course  showclose

This course will provide you with a comprehensive introduction to spreadsheets. The course is designed for first-time users with very little or no exposure to the subject. For this course, you will use Microsoft Excel as the software. The course will explore the following fundamental topics: an introduction to spreadsheets, terminology in Excel, components of a spreadsheet, what a cell consists of, and the creation of a spreadsheet for practical use.  You will examine sample files, videos, and books that will enable you to gain practical knowledge about spreadsheets that can be used in daily life, either at work, school, or home.

Course Information  showclose

Welcome to PRDV004: Spreadsheets.  Below, please find general information on this course and its requirements. 
Course Designer: Ryan Lowe, MFA
Primary Resources: The course will exclusively use Microsoft Excel software because it is the most used spreadsheet software in the world.  This course is comprised of a range of different free, online materials.  However, the course makes primary use of the following materials: Requirements for Completion: In order to successfully complete this course, you need to complete the readings and activities for each unit. You will also need to complete the Final Exam.

Note that you will only receive an official grade on your Final Exam. However, in order to adequately prepare for this exam, you will need to work through all of the materials in each unit.

In order to “pass” this course, you will need to earn a 70% of higher on the Final Exam. Your score on the exam will be tabulated as soon as you complete it. If you do not pass the exam, you may take it again.
Time Commitment: Assuming you do all of the exercises, readings, and assignments, each unit should take 1 hour to complete for a total of 3 hours for the course.  Each unit includes a “time advisory” that lists the amount of time you should spend on each subunit. These may help you plan your time accordingly.

Tips/Suggestions: Before you begin the readings, open Excel on your computer. As you read about cells, columns, rows, and other Excel features, pause and try it out in the actual program. This hands-on experience is a way to familiarize yourself with the program, and practice will engender creative ideas about how you can make use of the tool.

A version of this course is also available in iTunes U.
Preview the course in your browser or view all our iTunes U courses.  

Learning Outcomes  showclose

Upon successful completion of this course, the student will be able to:
  • Define the basic principles of spreadsheets.
  • Identify and describe components of a spreadsheet, including workbooks, sheets, cells, rows, and columns.
  • Identify tabs and toolbars in the Microsoft Excel window.
  • Identify simple formulas and shortcuts used in spreadsheets to aid in working with data.
  • Compare the difference between a row and column in a sheet.
  • Explain how spreadsheets can be applied in everyday life.

Course Requirements  showclose

In order to take this course, you must:

√    have access to a computer;

√    have continuous broadband Internet access;

√    have the ability/permission to install plug-ins or software (e.g. Adobe Reader or Flash);

√    have the ability to download and save files and documents to a computer;

√    have the ability to open Microsoft files and documents (.doc, .ppt, .xls, etc.);

√    have competency in the English language; and

√    have read the Saylor Student Handbook.

Unit Outline show close

  • Unit 1: Getting Started with Spreadsheets  

    In this unit, you will learn about the power and flexibility of spreadsheets, using Microsoft Excel. This unit will briefly survey the history and background of Excel. There are two subunits that contain specific content that will provide an introduction to Excel. As you become more familiar with the software, you will start to overcome any fear about learning spreadsheet software. This unit and this course will help you become more productive in using spreadsheets at work and for personal applications. For example, in this unit, you will see two practical examples of using a spreadsheet: to create a family budget and to create a work estimate.

    Unit 1 Time Advisory   show close
    Unit 1 Learning Outcomes   show close
  • 1.1 Basic Terms and Definitions in Excel  
  • 1.1.1 Cells, Rows, and Columns  
    • Reading: Paul Morris’s “Parts of a Spreadsheet”

      Link: Paul Morris’s “Parts of a Spreadsheet” (PDF)
      Instructions: Examine and memorize these definitions of cells, rows, and columns. See examples of a cell, row, and column below.
      An example of a CELL is linked here (PNG). The highlighted rectangle with the number 215 is called B1, because on the grid it is the precise location of where column B meets row 1.

      In the example of a ROW linked here (PNG). The numbers 734, 238, and 159 are entered in row 1.

      In the example of a COLUMN linked here (PNG), the numbers 145, 657, and 987 are entered in column A.

      Studying this resource should take approximately 15 minutes.
      Terms of Use: This resource is available under a Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 license

  • 1.1.2 Sheets and Workbooks  
    • Reading: Baycon Group’s “Excel Spreadsheets”

      Link: Baycon Group’s “Excel Spreadsheets” (HTML)

      Instructions: Read the section entitled “Lesson 1: Entering Text and Numbers,” scrolling down through Exercise 3. In order to complete the exercises, you will need to open and use Microsoft Excel. As you work, pay special attention to the buttons and toolbars in Microsoft Excel. You might have to switch back and forth between the Baycon Group’s website and Microsoft Excel.

      Worksheets, also called sheets, are the workspaces on your screen that open when you start Excel. A worksheet may vary in size depending on your settings and screen, but it is totally adjustable, as you will learn. Open your Microsoft Excel program and experiment with the sheet in front of you. Select cells, drag over groups of cells, and begin typing numbers or letters.

      Studying this resource and gaining hands-on experience should take approximately 15 minutes.

      Terms of Use: Please respect the copyright and terms of use displayed on the webpage above.

  • 1.2 The Flexibility and Breadth of Application of Excel  
  • 1.2.1 The Family Budget  
    • Reading: Ryan Lowe’s Excel Family Budget: “Excel as a Planning Tool”

      Link: Ryan Lowe’s Excel Family Budget: “Excel as a Planning Tool” (HTML and YouTube)

      Instructions: Read the introductory text  and view the video tutorial, “Excel Family Budget.” Also download the sample file if you find it helpful.

      At this link (PNG) is a simplified example of a family budget through August. Each column (vertical) represents an entire month. Each row (horizontal) represents an expense in the budget. Notice there are repeated expenses that are the same for each month, but the vacation expense is entered in only one month.  Also, some expenses may vary, as indicated with the Heat-A/C. The bottom line is the total for each month.

      Reading the introductory text, watching the video, and studying the example should take approximately 15 minutes.

      Terms of Use: Please respect the copyright and terms of use displayed on the webpage above.

  • 1.2.2 The Work Estimate  
  • Unit 1 Assessment  
  • Unit 2: The Composition of a Spreadsheet  

    The best way to learn something is to gain hands-on experience with it. This unit will focus on the steps required to assemble columns and rows and enter data to create a spreadsheet. You will also learn how to create formulas. In this unit, you will study and re-create a sample spreadsheet for tracking sales for a mock business. Tracking sales or creating a sales forecast for a business is just one of many professional applications of an Excel spreadsheet.

    Unit 2 Time Advisory   show close
    Unit 2 Learning Outcomes   show close
  • 2.1 How Rows and Columns Make a Spreadsheet: Entering Data into a Spreadsheet  
    • Reading: Baycon Group’s “Excel Spreadsheets”

      Link: Baycon Group’s “Excel Spreadsheets” (HTML)

      Instructions: Complete Exercises 4 through 7 to experiment with entering data, editing cells, and wrapping and deleting cells.

      Completing these exercises should take approximately 30 minutes.

      Terms of Use: Please respect the copyright and terms of use on the webpage above.

  • 2.2 Cells Love Data and Simple Formulas  

    Once you understand cells and formulas, it is fun to work with Excel. The software engineers did a lot of work in programming to make Excel user friendly and practical.

  • Unit 2 Assessment  
  • Unit 3: Spreadsheet Design and Implementation  

    The final unit of this course will build upon the concepts discussed in the previous units. You will apply what you have learned by creating a spreadsheet that can be used in a real world environment. The design of the columns and rows allows you and those who view your spreadsheet to quickly understand how the cells relate to one another. If you set up your spreadsheet correctly, you will be able to make quick data calculations. For example, you could quickly demonstrate the costs for specific services or products to potential clients. Also, spreadsheet functions can be used with home budgeting, grade averaging, quotes, invoices, cost analysis, etc. Do not be afraid to experiment, as spreadsheets can be instrumental to saving time in our business and personal lives.

    Unit 3 Time Advisory   show close
    Unit 3 Learning Outcomes   show close
  • 3.1 The Purpose of Spreadsheets  
    • Reading: The Saylor Foundation’s “The Purpose of Spreadsheets”

      Link: Study the example spreadsheets linked below.

      Instructions: There are unlimited ways to use a spreadsheet. Typical uses include household budgets, sales reports, inventories, and other reports. The power of Excel is that the user totally controls the function of the spreadsheet, as well as the look and feel of the end product.

      As you learn to manipulate cells and build the basic sheet, the purpose of why you are building it ought to guide every detail of your creation. Excel has the power to allow you to control almost anything you desire to accomplish your purpose.

      A straightforward and plain sheet would look like the example linked here (PNG).

      Some people may prefer to add emphasis, as in this example (PNG).

      Then, of course, some may go to the extreme, as in this example (PNG).

      Studying these examples should take approximately 15 minutes.

  • 3.2 Simple, Powerful, and Fun Math  
  • 3.3 Organization Is Key  

    If you create a spreadsheet without a clear purpose or you do not plan its organization, the end product will be useless or confusing. You need to draft the concept in your mind and perhaps on scratch paper before you start building the sheet. It is a good idea to make a simple sketch before you begin. This will help you determine how many rows and columns you will need as well as what headings ought to be included.

    When you work in Excel, your organization skills will begin to show. After you develop the basic structure, you can add headings, data (numbers or text), and formulas.

    • Reading: About.com: Ted French’s “Entering Data in Excel”

      Link: About.com: Ted French’s “Entering Data in Excel” (HTML)

      Instructions: Read this tutorial, keeping in mind the purpose of a spreadsheet. Go back and read page two with an idea of a spreadsheet you would like to make. Then, create your own spreadsheet in Excel, using the sketch you created as a guide. There is almost limitless power with examining numbers using Excel. Think of all the possibilities and try to use Excel spreadsheets in your business and family budgeting.

      Reading this tutorial and working on these exercises should take approximately 30 minutes.

      Terms of Use: Please respect the copyright and terms of use on the webpage above.

  • Unit 3 Assessment  
  • Final Exam