Continuing Education

Taking the First Steps to Introduction to MS Office

In a world where computer technology has all but taken over our lives, from home to work to our very pockets, a newcomer’s first steps into learning its use can often be intimidating Imageones.  Navigating programs like those found in Microsoft Office Suite (MOS) take a little time to absorb, but are not an insurmountable goal. Helping newcomers through this learning opportunity is precisely what CE instructor Melanie Farrar enjoys doing, and does it very well. Since 2014 she has been teaching Excel and basic computer skills classes for North Seattle College and North Seattle Continuing Education, nearly six years of that time has been devoted to teaching MOS.  “My students generally have little or no experience with a computer and/or MOS,” she says. “It is fun to share new information and an exciting software package with students.”  

First offered to consumers in 1990, the initial Microsoft Office Suite (MOS) was a bundled set of applications comprised of Word, Excel and PowerPoint. Moving forward, the MS Office Suite has constantly evolved to fit the needs of businesses and individual consumers around the Imageglobe.  As MOS programs see regular upgrades and re-tooling, this can sometimes add to a newcomer’s concerns over mastering them.

Farrar says the most challenging obstacle for most of her students comes when they try to take on the whole program at once.  “This is not necessary.  It is easier to learn one small feature and then build on it.  You don’t need to know every feature to use MOS.  You can learn as you go, and every day can have a new accomplishment.”

Though not of immediate concern to CE students, MOS is available in several versions tailored to different user needs and environments. The desktop version is the most commonly used, and designed for use with PCs and MAC operating systems. The most recent version is Office 2016.

Many of Farrar’s students come to her course thinking they are the only ones lacking the knowledge to use basic computers skills. Farrar assures them this is not the case. “In an introductory course, often a student will believe that everyone else understands, and they feel badly because they are the only one who doesn’t understand,” she says. “This, of course, is not true.  We all have a mixture of knowing and not knowing.  So, take one step at a time and pretty soon you will be on your way.”

An instructor’s success hinges on the knowledge and confidence their students take away from a class. For Farrar’s students, this is more than evident. Student Leslie S. says, “(Melanie) had an agenda, but was open to meeting the specific requests from students. We Imagehad a lot of time to practice new skills.”  Student Rosalyn W. echoes this sentiment, “(She) was positive, supportive and presented the materials well. I learned many helpful ideas and skills for my computer use.”

To Farrar’s mind, a student’s success is not only about taking away knowledge or confidence. “What makes for a successful student?” she asks. “Taking that first step.”

Learn more about Introduction to MS Office.