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Welcome to a Better Way to Teach Microsoft® Office

By Christine Hurney

The best way for students to learn a Microsoft® Office application such as Word, Excel, Access, or PowerPoint is to actually work in the application, completing meaningful projects and using the application’s tools and features. It is through applying these tools and features to meaningful projects that a student becomes a skilled user.

Paradigm’s Office courseware provides a lot of opportunities for students to work in the applications, but students don’t want to do work for class unless they get credit or a grade for that work. Managing and grading student work can be extremely time consuming, even with the help of the Compare feature, which, by the way, is not available for Access.

Here is an overview of how instructors can use Paradigm’s SNAP 2016 elements in conjunction with the textbook/eBook elements to support their work in training and assessing students. The examples below are from Benchmark Series: Microsoft® Office 2016, but the elements are similar in all of the Office training products developed by Paradigm Education Solutions.

Training and Homework

  • Students learn best if they first identify their current skills. Knowing what they need to learn will help them focus their study. In SNAP, Precheck/Recheck concepts-based quizzes are designed to help students identify what they don’t yet know. They are available for each chapter and are automatically scored. Instructors can use the results of these quizzes to help them focus lectures or demonstrations on the skills students most need to develop.
  • To learn best, students need positive reinforcement, an engaging training environment, along with the ability to immediately apply and practice what they learn. Advanced students want to be able to demonstrate their skills without sitting through a tutorial, and all students want results reporting to a grade book so that their work “counts.” SNAP Tutorials support chapter content with optional guided training and measured practice. The tutorials also provide instructors a tool to measure student engagement throughout the course.
  • The more a student practices, the better they learn. And, if the student can do that practice independently, without having to contact the instructor, all the better. Chapter Projects are the heart of training, and instructors should encourage students to complete all of the projects within a chapter. Locked model answers are provided for each project so that students can check their own work, eliminating the need for instructors to grade those assignments. If a student is confused, the SNAP Tutorials are always available for them to run through.
  • Instructors don’t want to spend all of their time grading homework, but at the same time, need to see that their students are able to demonstrate application skills. Designed to follow independent chapter and tutorial study, SNAP Skills Exercises are live-in-the application activities that allow students to demonstrate skills. These exercises create the ideal homework assignment, as the work is automatically scored and detailed feedback is provided on a step-by-step basis. New in 2017, instructors also have access to chronological screen captures showing how a student completed each exercise. The step-by-step feedback and the screen captures are designed to help the student understand what they did wrong, and how they can further develop the corresponding skills.
  • Some instructors still want to directly evaluate student work. For these instructors, the Workbook Skills Assessment is designed for instructors who want assignments that students can complete outside of SNAP. Instructor support for grading these activities includes live application model answer files, annotated model answer PDFs, and rubrics. For SNAP users, these activities allow students more practice. Completing these activities will help them do better on the SNAP Skills Exercises.
  • Often activities that require the student to demonstrate creative problem solving are difficult for a computer to grade accurately. For this reason we provide Visual Benchmark and Case Study Assignments in the student eBook for optional homework assignments. Because these cannot be automatically scored in SNAP, we provide instructor support for grading these activities: live application model answer files, annotated model answer PDFs, and rubrics.

Assessments

  • Students succeed when their training environment and their assessment environment are consistent and familiar. To ensure success, SNAP Projects are designed using the same interface as the SNAP Skills Exercises. These chapter-based activities are designed to require the students to complete several related skills-based tasks in a single file. Like the SNAP Skills Exercises, Projects are completed live-in-the-application, provide detailed feedback, and are supported with screen captures documenting how the students completed each step. By default, the SNAP course includes one project per chapter, but an alternative version is available for use as a midterm or final exam.
  • Because instructors also value the ability to assess student abilities through short, single-skill-focused exam questions, SNAP Skill Exams present the student with a series of problem statements that must be solved using the provided base files and live-in-the application tools. Like the SNAP Projects, these exams are automatically scored, provide detailed feedback for each problem statement, and are supported with screen captures documenting student work.
  • Concepts-based exams are still important and relevant. To meet this need, SNAP Concept Exams are built from multiple-choice item banks, and parallel the Precheck/Recheck quizzes provided for student study. Exams are a quick and easy tool for instructors to check student comprehension.

Paradigm’s SNAP learning management system provides the tools that allow instructors to deliver to students meaningful training and automatically scored practice and assessment. By taking full advantage of the automatic scoring of SNAP’s precheck/recheck quizzes; tutorials; live-in-the-application skill exercises, projects, and skill exams; as well as concept exams, instructors can more efficiently facilitate the flipped classroom.

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