The Importance of Microsoft Applications Training

One of Directions Training’s Microsoft Applications Instructors wanted you to know…

As an Applications Instructor, I deal daily with people who need to learn, or learn better, how to use programs like Microsoft Word, Excel, PowerPoint, etc. These may be people who are just entering a job in which these skills are needed, or people who have been doing a job for a long time, and are suddenly faced with doing it in conjunction with a computer. The need for such training follows no season or cycle.

Some of the people I teach have been sent by their employer to take a class in a software in which they feel that they are already proficient. Sometimes they have no choice but to come to class. Sometimes they see the class as a paid day away from the office. Mostly they have a desire to enhance their proficiency and learn new skills.

Much of the time we spend in applications classes is spent on areas and tools within the program that are not obvious or that are difficult to teach one’s self.  Often, a lot of the fun in the class is when people discover the bittersweet truth that something that they have been doing for years can be done in a much simpler, more efficient way. That moment of discovery has been portrayed by Homer Simpson many times. To quote Homer: “D’oh!”

To teach new skills and to enhance the students’ ability to use application programs is the primary focus of applications classes. In a Word class, we teach Word. In an Excel class we teach Excel, and so on. Why state the obvious? Because often there’s a lot more learning that is needed. On a daily basis, I encounter people, sometimes people who have been using a computer for years, to whom some of the most elementary concepts and tools are a closed book. Years, maybe decades ago they were sat down in front of a PC and told to start using it. Maybe there was some initial training in a specific task. Beyond that, often it is assumed that, since they sit in front of the computer screen and tap away at the keys, they are knowledgeable and proficient in the use of the computer and all of the programs on it. Any further training may come from them asking the person in the next cubicle “How do you do…”? I don’t know the person in the next cubicle, but I can tell you that he or she doesn’t always give the right answer.

Simple tools like “Control/Home” and “Control/End,” or “Shift/Click” and “Control/Click” are often startling revelations when I use them in class; this should not be. These are the tools and concepts that should be taught the first day a new (or not-so-new) user sits down at a computer. Moreover, basic application skills and tools which might be expected to be familiar to someone in an Intermediate or Advanced class are missing in more students than one would reasonably expect.

We are on the threshold of a new version of Microsoft Office, Office 2013. We “apps” instructors are looking forward to introducing users, new and old, to new ways to be efficient and productive with the new and exciting features of the new version. But new features aren’t what it is all about. The new classes in the new version aren’t only about what is new. They are also about the core skills and concepts needed to use the Office applications well and effectively. Many of these skills and tools have not changed in a decade, and are needed by more users than expected.

Few people will admit, when asked by a supervisor, that they need training on the basics of a program they use every day. Many people don’t even know that there may be a better way (new feature or not) to do something than the way they learned from their office neighbor years ago. Training in the Microsoft Office applications should not be entirely version-driven. We look forward to a surge in enrollment as companies start upgrading and migrating. But that surge should never entirely decline. Much of what people learn in our classes are necessary skills to use the programs well and efficiently. Many of these skills are not new or unique to a version. The need for training in these skills doesn’t fade when a version of Office has been out for a year or two. I see that every day. We’re here all the time and people need this training all the time. Need I say more?

For more Microsoft Applications Training information visit or call 1-855-575-8900.