FeedbackPanda vs. Spreadsheets

I just googled the person who created the first electronic spreadsheet. His name is Dan Bricklin, and he started the spreadsheet movement in the late 1970s. This is an incredible accomplishment; programs such as Excel and Google Sheets have completely changed the way people organize their lives and businesses.

Yet, spreadsheets are not without their disadvantages. This amazing program that calculates and charts anything from household expenses to chemistry data can’t do it all. If it were so simple to use a spreadsheet program for everything, then small and large businesses wouldn’t invest money to use more tailored software. As independent contractors, we online teachers manage our own small businesses. Even though we can find many open-source spreadsheet programs, perhaps it would do a lot for our pocketbooks and our time management to invest in software that has been created specifically for our needs.

Spreadsheets Aren’t Databases

Most of us want our online teaching to grow into a career that will provide us a substantial portion of our living expenses. For this to happen, one person must teach hundreds of classes a month. The online community has found much relief with spreadsheets, using them to track student information and to create feedback. Some resourceful teachers have shared their ingenious spreadsheets with the online ESL community. What these teachers have provided at no cost to other teachers is awe-inspiring, but it doesn’t negate the fact that spreadsheets are not central data management tools.

The good ol’ days of spreadsheets–before we had integrated, lightning-quick software.

Spreadsheets can only handle so much data before they become a hindrance. I use Google Sheets often, and I’ve found that the more I add to the spreadsheet, the longer it takes to load. It doesn’t scroll as smoothly, often hiccupping while I’m searching for information. Once the spreadsheet becomes too full, the user must store it away in a folder, and create a new file to add more data. This process will be repeated, until the folders and files become too numerous to count—and information retrieval becomes clumsy.

This is one of the major reasons why software has been developed for businesses. Intuit, for example, is one of the best-known, used to record finances for homes and businesses. Intuit took away the hassle of searching through countless spreadsheets for data retrieval. Even more importantly, Intuit drew in people who didn’t want to deal with managing their finances because of the difficulty involved. They made it a “no-brainer” for all of us—from taxes to spending.

FeedbackPanda, for a fraction of the cost, works in a parallel fashion to Intuit. The price of one 25-minute class per month allows teachers to have smooth and speedy access to a database. All the relevant information, not just feedback, can be stored and retrieved here with a touch of a button.

FeedbackPanda has solved the “rewards” conundrum. No more repeating rewards! If you hover your mouse over the reward, a box will pop up telling you exactly when and for which lesson you used that reward. Nifty, huh?
Excel and GoogleSheets won’t give you an eye-pleasing stats page (names have been blurred for privacy).
Nothing compares to FeedbackPanda’s uncluttered dashboard, where data can be found with a click. Photos are uploaded and viewed with ease. (Faces and names have been blurred for privacy.)

Spreadsheets Aren’t Integrated

No matter how intricate a spreadsheet is, it isn’t integrated with the teaching portal. FeedbackPanda offers this unique feature. FBP is a plug-in, which enables it to automatically pull the information from your teaching portal. It pulls the lesson information, but it also pulls the student data. Each student has a unique ID with the ESL company; FBP “detects” this unique ID. This computation is what allows FBP to create an entire student and teacher database—often without any manual input on the teacher’s end.

Even though a spreadsheet has a search function to hunt for key words, it won’t differentiate between two students with the same name.  You will have to manually figure out which “Alice” or “Tom” you’re teaching, and make sure you enter your data in the correct fields. I have a few Alices and Annies, but FBP automatically extracts the unique student identifier as part of the integration, so that I don’t have to do the guesswork.

Doesn’t the little panda make you smile?
Our little friend pops up during classes too, just in case we need to make a quick note!

FeedbackPanda Goes Above and Beyond…

FBP not only picks up the slack from spreadsheets, but it also enhances your entire teaching experience. Many of us depend on online teaching for a living. We want to see our work-related expenses going to useful things. FBP is worthwhile because it maximizes our time. So many teachers have reported they can add on more classes because of FBP. The reasons are quite simple—FBP shaves down our “busy-work” time. It also consolidates our excessive data. Spreadsheets don’t consolidate well, consequently adding to our time spent on non-teaching tasks.

Spreadsheets have come a long way since the time Dan Bricklin first created them, but they are still an auxiliary component to managing large amounts of data. They’ve become quite fancy—you can add a variety of media to them nowadays. What’s also true is that these bells and whistles work against the spreadsheet, making it unwieldy and slow.  Conversely, FBP’s data is stored on purchased server space, hence the quality and speed of information retrieval are top-notch. Pictures, lengthy feedback, and every bit of student information are less than a second away.

Using spreadsheets before FeedbackPanda. 😖😭

Using FeedbackPanda, and no more spreadsheets! 🎉🎉