Assistant in the Office of Special Programs
boss knew Excel would be a big help to Mary and asked me to train
her. Specifically, he knew it would help in her student abroad balance
& Specific Problems
of Mary's jobs was to set up and keep track of the travel expenses
for Principia's travel abroad programs. The balance sheets she kept
were detailed and lengthy. She tracked travel and accomodation costs,
as well as meal, museum, performance, and other activity costs.
The cost per student was based entirely on the average for the number
of students going - usually around 20. When the number of students
changed, every detail had to be recalculated, including reconverting
with all of the exchange rates for all of the countries involved.
worked with her for 20-30 minutes twice a week. The sessions were
two-part: I was learning how she did her job in order to build a
spreadsheet template and she was learning Excel.
I showed her what I developed and she told me where I needed
to make corrections.
Mary liked to figure things our for herself, so I introduced
a small topic in the tutorial with the assignment to work through
that part of the tutorial (about 30 minutes of "homework").
At the next session, she asked questions about aspects she did
was slow. She was "getting it," but couldn't see how
it would be much better than what she was already doing very effectively
and comfortably. We had been at it for 6-8 weeks.
Limitations, & Next Steps
AHA Moment: A Convert Is Born!
days before a group of 22 was due to leave for Italy with a side
trip to Austria, one student dropped from the program. Everything
had to be recalculated. It
took Mary 6 hours - a very long night! Fortunately, the
spreadsheet was about done. When I met with her the next day and
brought up the spreadsheet, I typed 21 in
the cell that had 22 for the number of students. Viola!
Close to instantaneously, the calculations
astonishment (hand to mouth, drop back in chair, audible gasp)
was a delight.
We completed the training in another week. She began converting
all of her work into spreadsheets. She taught herself other applications
for her office work and began using these in her work as clerk
for her church. Most importantly, her resistance to technology
melted and she became inventive in how she approached her work
and using technology.
was a prime example of the
power of relevance
combined with basic skills
leading to transference
with initiative and independence.