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Five Tips to Make Excel Training Easy for Students

Sometimes students struggle to grasp the basics of Excel.  They may think they are not “computer people” while others may be confused by a scary spreadsheet. Don’t worry, Excel is a simple program that anybody can learn–with the right guidance, of course. With the help of these tips—and 30 Bird—you can guide your students to success.


Why Teach Excel?

Microsoft Excel is one of the most important daily-use tools found in almost every office setting.  A recent survey from Spiceworks, a professional network for people in the IT industry, found that 82% of companies use Excel in the workplace.

Despite very real competition from free services like Google Sheets, Excel is still the industry standard for electronic spreadsheets. Companies often assume that their new hires are already proficient in Excel. That’s why Excel training is so important for anyone looking to enter the workforce.


1. Start With the Basics

This seems like a no-brainer. We assume that any well-designed course starts with the topic’s basics.  Where else would a course begin?

Seasoned instructors know when their students are having a hard time understanding the course materials. How many times have you looked out into the class and seen your students’ eyes glazing over? We aim to make that a thing of the past with our easy to understand and engaging courseware.

First, we introduce the students to the basics of entering data into the spreadsheet. From there, they can learn how to plug in basic mathematical formulas.

Here is a good example. Many students struggle to remember to enter an equals sign before any mathematical formula on Excel. Having students enter values that they can calculate in their head, like 5+5, and then having them add those values with the addition formula (=5+5) provides an excellent foundation for learning some of Excel’s more difficult functions.

Unfortunately, many courses in computer programs assume that students have some familiarity with the topic. That means students often only gain partial knowledge of a program. Even if half of your class has had some previous exposure to Excel, it’s always a good idea to start with the basics of the program.

At 30 Bird, we understand that a good foundation is necessary to build a student’s Excel skills. That includes basics like learning how to use the SUM function to auditing and error-trapping their spreadsheet. That’s why our Microsoft Excel 2019 training starts with the program’s fundamentals and gradually builds the student’s skills through a three-level program.


2. What’s in it for Me?

As instructors, we’ve all heard students ask “when am I ever going to use this?” Let’s face it, Excel isn’t exactly fun to learn. Often, students fail to see the long-term benefits of learning a skill, even if that skill is obviously necessary for their career.

You can better engage your students by applying real-world scenarios to their coursework. Here are some suggestions for classroom exercises:

  • Have your beginner students track their personal finances through a basic spreadsheet.
  • Push your more advanced students to visually track their course progress with a pivot table.
  • Create a classroom spreadsheet for students to track their progress.

Once your students see that using Excel can be easy and fun, they will be more eager to learn.


3. Engage with Hands-On Learning

Imagine that you are a music instructor at a local school.  A student approaches you asking to teach them the saxophone.  Would you teach the student by having them watch you play the saxophone or would you have the student play along with you?

As an instructor, your best option is to teach the student by giving them actual hands-on experience.  We don’t absorb information by simply having it told to us. We learn by doing.

What is true for music students is also true for students trying to learn Microsoft Excel.  In order to learn a program like Excel, students actually have to use Excel.

30 Bird’s Microsoft Excel 2019 courseware provides students with actual hands-on experience with the program.  Instructing with the program helps students who have might have trouble learning in a traditional classroom setting.

Hands-on learning also corresponds with how people actually learn computer programs.  Just like how we can’t learn an instrument by only watching someone else play, we need to actually use to program we intend to learn.

A hands-on learning environment also allows the instructor the ability to pinpoint specific issues students are encountering with the program.  As a result, they can tailor their lesson plans accordingly. Hands-on training is important to effectively learn any computer program, especially Excel.


4. Check Your References

Excel contains a big library of keystrokes, formulas, and functions.  Some people think that, in order to use Excel, you have to memorize all of the functions.  As a result, students sometimes will give up on learning Excel before they even start.

Really, learning Excel is much easier than it seems.  Even people who use the program every day have to look up the program’s function list. While this might comfort students, it still doesn’t make learning Excel any easier.

Having to pause a classroom activity to search for a formula dramatically delays the learning process. Setting up a resource for your students could be the difference between their success and their failure.  

Luckily, we have a solution.  Our Quick Reference Cards provide all of the information your students need.  Whether your students need a keystroke, formula, or function, these reference cards provide an immediately accessible resource for novices and experts alike.


5. Lead the Classroom

It is almost impossible to become an expert in Excel without some outside guidance.  Unfortunately, self-led video training has become all too commonplace in the professional world.  Often, this style of teaching leaves out important details and ignores students who struggle with course material.

Learning should not be a sink or swim experience.  Having an instructor means having a dedicated guide whose sole purpose is to help every student succeed.  

This is especially important when teaching Excel.  An instructor is able to catch a student who has been incorrectly formatting their spreadsheets or exporting the wrong data and provide them with needed guidance.

All 30 Bird courses are instructor-led.  Why invest in courseware that doesn’t provide the best experience for your students?  Each course has a corresponding instructor manual so that you can lead your classroom to success.


Excel Training with 30 Bird

Your students deserve the best courseware available.  30 Bird’s Microsoft Excel 2019 courseware applies the above tips to create an excellent learning experience.

Our courseware provides students with the fundamentals of Excel, gives them real-world exercises in a hands-on and instructor-led learning environment, and gives them all of the reference materials they need to be experts in the program.  In other words, 30 Bird’s courseware will effectively guide your students to their desired learning outcomes.

If you have any questions, call us today at (888) 330-9071, e-mail us at, or visit  Whether you are looking to redesign your course or teaching for the first time, we can help you.

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