Flipped classroom model for acquiring Excel skills. Or why a traditional teaching model doesn’t cut the mustard

Since we’ve been restructured, and formed the wider Learning Services Group at UCS, we’ve been given a great chance to redesign the acquiring excel skills sessions we run. The traditional model at UCS was for students to attend a lecture (show and tell) format from a member of Learning Development, with a supporting handout. This would cover a range of topics from using excel for descriptive stats, simple data visualisation (bar charts) and more complex approaches, including scatter plots.

However, I would challenge this model on various grounds. In particular,

  1. is it really the most effective way to teach someone excel skills? The learner is relatively passive within this model
  2. it does not account for previous knowledge and skills. Why does a person need to attend a teaching session if they already have the skills, and can demonstrate them? Surely, we should focus our limited resource on having the greatest impact?

So, the new learning model is based around a flipped classroom concept. The primary aim is to ensure the generic skills are acquired and build on what they already know. So, just help them work it out. The following outlines a simple model we’ll apply for two programmes at UCS.

Pre-session activity within their LearnUCS (VLE) Module


  • Provide the activity descriptor, and the data set (downloadable as excel file)
  • Provide an authentic support video on how to complete the task (use different data but same layout) <www.youtube.com/embed/HtEdUS653Dw>
  • Quiz – include a set of objective questions based on the values they’ve calculated, a set of subjective questions based on the broad interpretation (scatter plots, with line of best fit), and a file upload question to see their finished spreadsheet
  • If they pass (criteria to be set), they do not need to attend the session, and will receive an open digital badge as recognition. If they do not pass, they will be contacted about attending the surgery session


  • Run as Q&A. It will replaces the lecture, and will include a few members of the Learning Services Team to enable small group sessions.

Post Session activity with their LearnUCS Module

  • Provide the completed (correct) solution as a video, so can watch it and self-reflect.


Image – with thanks: http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/2/27/Excel_chart.PNG

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