Jump to content


Advice for Intro College Course

1 reply to this topic

#1 Prof. JP

Prof. JP


  • Members
  • Pip
  • 1 posts

Posted 09 May 2014 - 05:51 PM

We are teaching a Freshman entry level college course basically on Access, PPT, Excel, some HTML and a few other topics.  The experience of the students is from no experience to high level, depending on the high school the student comes from.  Basically we need the Essentials book and Pivot Tables, which unfortunately is in the Expert book.  Is there any way to get our students access to all of the essentials book and just the Pivot Table lessons from the Expert book?


Also, any advice from anyone who taught a similar course is welcome, i.e. on your experience with using these books. 

#2 Mike


    Advanced Member

  • Administrators
  • 190 posts

Posted 09 May 2014 - 06:31 PM

Dear John


Pivot Tables are most definitely an Expert skill.  I’ve taught Excel classes to corporate executives for over ten years and it is rare to find any Excel business users that understand Pivot tables.   This skill is even rare amongst professional accountants.


Perhaps the first step would be to establish whether your students really need Pivot Table skills.  These skills are mainly used to analyze de-normalized data extracts from relational databases rather than to analyse data that has actually been input into Excel.


Assuming that your students really do need pivot table skills they should also be able to understand tables.  Since Excel 2007 was released,  tables (rather than ranges) are best practice for the data source underpinning a pivot table.  Tables are covered in Session One: Tables and Ranges (Expert Skills) 


As a minimum it would be possible to proceed directly to Session Five: Pivot Tables of Expert Skills after digesting Session One: Tables and Ranges of Expert Skills but many of the functions taught in Session Three: Advanced Functions of Expert Skills are often needed in order to prepare the data table (when extracted from a relational source) prior to creating a pivot table from it.


Excel 2013 has also added a new spin to Pivot Tables with the introduction of the OLAP Pivot Table and the data model.  There’s an entirely new session in 2013 Expert Skills devoted to this subject Session Six: The Data Model, OLAP, MDX and BI that also covers relational database theory (essential to the understanding of OLAP Pivot Tables).  I’d be surprised if even one percent of Excel business users, now and in the future, will ever have any understanding of OLAP (though it is tremendously useful when working with relational database data sources).


When I teach my Excel classroom courses it is rare to have a student who has no prior exposure to Excel.  For this reason it is usually possible to “cherry pick” lessons from different sessions based upon existing skills and the need for certain features.   This approach only works with small classes with similar prior experience (my maximum class size is six).


Essential Skills is designed to give students excellent Excel Skills (skills that will put them ahead of the average office worker and an employer’s expectations for “good” Excel skills).  Expert Skills covers just about every Excel feature and also provides the skills to use any other feature that isn’t explicitly covered.  These are skills that are not needed or expected in most occupations.


Best Regards



Mike Smart

Mike Smart is the author of ten world best-selling Excel books. The books are available in printed form for for Excel 2007, Excel 2010, Excel 2013, Excel 2016 for Windows and Excel 2016 for Apple Mac. Mike has also recorded over 850 video lessons (that you can watch online) for Excel 2007, Excel 2010 and Excel 2013.
Mike Smart is also part of the team that answers questions posted on the ExcelCentral.com forums.

Reply to this topic


0 user(s) are reading this topic

0 members, 0 guests, 0 anonymous users