Productivity software is designed to make people (including teachers and learners) more effective and efficient information processors while performing daily activities. Teaching-learning activities are no exception. Productivity software includes application software such as:

  • Word Processing Software
  • Spreadsheet Software
  • Database Software
  • Presentation Software

WORD PROCESSING SOFTWARE

One of the more widely used application software is word processing software, which is used to create, edit and format documents that consist primarily of text. Word processing software can be used to create documents such as letters, memos, reports, envelopes, brochures, magazines and newsletters.

By acquiring solid word processing skills, teachers can increase their productivity significantly by using word processing software to create written documents, such as lesson plans, handouts, parent communications, worksheets, meeting agendas, minutes of the meetings, letters, applications, question papers and other professional looking documents.

In addition to supporting basic text, word processing software has many formatting features to make documents look professional and visually appealing, such as changing the font style and font size of headlines and headings, change the color of characters, or organize text into newspaper-style columns. Any colors used for characters or other formatting will print as black or gray unless we use a color printer.

Most word processing software also can incorporate many types of graphics. For example, you can enhance a document by adding a border, which is a decorative line or pattern along one or more edges of a page or graphic. One type of graphic commonly included with word processing software is clip art, which is a collection of drawings, diagrams, and photographs that can be inserted in other documents.

All word processing software provides basic capabilities to help you create, edit, and format documents. For example, we can define the size of the paper on which to print, as well as the margins — that is, the portion of the page outside the main body of text, on the top, bottom, left, and right sides of the paper. SmartArt feature enables to make a variety of concept maps.

To review the spelling of individual words, sections of a document, or the entire document, we can use a spelling checker, also called a spell checker. A spelling checker compares the words in the document with an electronic dictionary that is part of the word processing software. You also can insert headers and footers into a word processing document. A header is text we want at the top of each page; a footer is text we want at the bottom of each page. Page numbers, as well as company and school names, report titles, or dates are examples of items frequently included in headers and footers.

The most popular word processing software used in schools today is Microsoft Word.

SPREADSHEET SOFTWARE

Another widely used software application is spreadsheet software, which allows you to organize numeric data in rows and columns. These rows and columns collectively are called a spreadsheet, or worksheet. The intersection of a column and row is called a cell. Cells are identified by the column and row in which they are located. For example, the intersection of column D and row 5 is referred to as cell D5. Cells may contain three types of data: labels (text), values (numbers), and formulas. A formula performs calculations on the numeric data in the spreadsheet and displays the resulting value in the cell containing the formula.

Another standard feature of spreadsheet software is the capability of turning numeric data into a chart that graphically illustrates the relationship of the numeric data. Visual representation of data in charts often makes it easier to analyze and interpret information. Most charts are variations of three basic chart types — line charts, column charts, and pie charts. To improve their appearance, most charts can be displayed or printed in a three-dimensional format.

As with word processing software, most spreadsheet software has basic features to help you create, edit, and format electronic spreadsheets. Spreadsheet software also incorporates many of the features of word processing software, such as a spelling checker, font formatting, and the capability of converting an existing spreadsheet document into the standard document format for the World Wide Web. Because individual rows, columns, cells, or any combination of cells can be formatted, school and business people often use spreadsheet programs to create their standardized forms. Many teachers interact with spreadsheet programs on a daily basis to enter students’ grade or attendance.

Popular spreadsheet software used in schools is Microsoft Excel.

DATABASE SOFTWARE

A database is a collection of data organized in a manner that allows access, retrieval, and use of that data. Database software is used to create a computerized database; add, change, and delete data; sort and retrieve data from the database; and create forms and reports using the data in the database.

When we use a database, we need to be familiar with the terms file, record, and field. Just as in a manual system, a database file is a collection of related data that is organized in records. Each record contains a collection of related facts called fields. A field is the smallest unit of information you can access in a database. For example, a student database file might consist of records containing names, address information, and parental or guardian information. All of the data that relates to one student is considered a record. Each fact in a record, such as the street address or telephone number, is called a field.

Database software is used extensively by businesses and other organizations to organize data and information about customers, employees, equipment, product inventory, sales information, and more. Schools use databases to organize data and information about students, staff members, school policies, equipment inventories, book inventories, purchases, and more.

Popular database software typically used in schools are Microsoft Access and FileMaker Pro.

PRESENTATION SOFTWARE

Presentation software can be used to create documents called presentations, which then can be used to communicate ideas, messages, and other information to a group, such as a class or auditorium of people. The presentations can be viewed as slides that are displayed on a large monitor or projected onto a screen. Slides also can be printed and given to students as a handout.

Presentation software typically provides an array of predefined presentation formats that define complementary colors for backgrounds, text, and other special effects. Presentation graphics software also provides a variety of layouts for each individual slide. Any text, charts, and graphics used in a slide can be enhanced with 3D and other effects such as shading, shadows, and textures. With presentation software, objects can be incorporated from the clip art/image gallery into your slides to create multimedia presentations. A clip art/image gallery includes clip art images, pictures, videos, and audio files. When building a presentation, the slide timing can be set so the presentation automatically displays the next slide after a predetermined delay. Special effects can be applied to the transition between each slide. For example, one slide might slowly dissolve as the next slide comes into view. The slide sorter helps to arrange the slides in any order or display them one at a time by keyboard.

Presentation software also incorporates some of the features provided in word processing software, such as spell checking, formatting, and converting an existing slide show into a format that can be viewed on the World Wide Web.

Teachers can create and integrate electronic presentations into any classroom curriculum as an exciting alternative to traditional teaching methods. With presentation software programs, teachers and students can create presentations easily with links to a variety of information sources. Teachers and students, for example, can create presentations with links to other slides, other presentations, other files and software programs, animations, videos, audio files, and even sites on the World Wide Web if the presentation computer is connected to the Internet.

Presentation software typically used in schools are Keynote and Microsoft PowerPoint.

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