According to Roblyer, (2016) the basic suite is the triple threat of software tools available: word processing, spreadsheets, and presentation software (p. 109). These three programs have revolutionized productivity, and thus have a rightful and commanding presence in classrooms. Roblyer articulates four main benefits of the basic suite: “improved productivity,” “improved appearance,” “improved accuracy,” and “more support for interaction and collaboration” (109). To further examine relative advantage of using the basic suite in the classroom, I am going to utilize these four categories.
Students and teachers are able to be more productive when using the basic suite. All three digital software tools are cited by Roblyer to save time and help organize information. Consider writing, for example. I teach fourth grade and student handwriting and spelling can be unreadable to all but a finely trained eye. Furthermore, for some of my students, the act of writing is so cumbersome, time-consuming, or difficult that they come to despise writing. However, when given access to the basic suite they are able to express themselves with ease and joy. Word processing, especially, has transformed my writing instruction.
Another way that the basic suite increases productivity is through increased motivation; if students are motivated to complete work, they will be more productive. Roblyer cites spreadsheets as increasing student motivation to work with mathematics (121), word processors increasing motivation in writing (115), and students who “created interactive PowerPoint products to illustrate new vocabulary words were more active and engaged than other students and demonstrated greater understanding of words and concepts they studied” (132).
When materials are crafted and created within the basic suite, they most often look better than those created by hand (especially by fourth grade hand). Students and teachers have the opportunity to edit and make changes with ease instead of crossing things out. Students and teachers can make up for poor drawing skills with image searches and poor handwriting with font selections. Therefore, students and teachers have the opportunity to make professional looking products. Teachers can make inclusive decisions about and accommodations to instructional materials by changing fonts or adding pictures.
Additionally, students and teachers can enhance the presentation of materials by adding videos, images, and color schemes. While this can lead to overwhelming presentations, as Tecknologic (2016) points out spreadsheet processors (like Powerpoint) “are just a tool, and the way that you use it determines whether it is useful or not.” This quote stood out to me when considering the relative advantage of the basic suite because it is just a tool, or a collection of tools, but it is still the responsibility of the teacher to use these tools to enhance student learning and engagement.
For students, the basic suite provides easier opportunities to edit and revise their work. Additionally, there are more opportunities to collaborate and provide feedback. These both lead improved accuracy for student-produced work. In addition, teachers can use the basic suite for data collection and record keeping, which allows them to make more informed, data-driven decisions in the classroom.
More Support for Interaction and Collaboration
In my classroom, I utilize Google Apps for education. As such, my students can share documents, spreadsheets, and presentations with one another to collaborate on group projects or provide feedback to one another. Additionally, I can pop in to any of their projects and make changes or suggestions and provide feedback. Sometimes, this looks like me helping them with grammatical errors or making suggestions about sentence structure or sometimes I link a video in to a comment to teach or re-teach them a specific skill. In this way, the basic suite allows me to increase differentiation, collaboration, and feedback in my classroom.
Essentially, the relative advantage of the basic suite is that it prepares students to be 21st century learners, thinkers, and creators. By utilizing the three tools, students are able to create professional products, collaborate with their peers, and increase productivity. Furthermore, they are more engaged and motivated to succeed ultimately making the basic suite a necessity in today’s classrooms.
Roblyer, M. (2016). Integrating Educational Technology into Teaching (7th ed.). Massachusetts: Pearson.
Tecknologic. (2016, February 20). “Is PowerPoint a useful teaching tool? Tecknologic. Retrieved from https://tekhnologic.wordpress.com/2016/02/20/5-activities-to-make-your-powerpoint-more-engaging/