Category Archives: Around WIC

Spreadsheet Wisdom: Teaching and Learning with Excel

What I’ve learned from working with the Penn community – students and faculty – is that Excel can be customized to projects across vastly different disciplines. If you’ve been to one of my workshops, you’ve probably heard me say that the best way to deal with Excel is to learn to “think like Excel.” Approaching problems like a computer program can not only help give you new perspective but it can also provide a practical method for troubleshooting Excel’s functionality on your own.

If you can figure out what Excel is missing or misinterpreting that is making your data look funny, you can go in an quickly fix the isolated issue. This takes some initial practice but can be accomplished with a bit of patience and the help of Penn Libraries’ newly updated Excel guide. Here you’ll find sample files and notes to guide you through performing tasks ranging from basic to advanced.

Tips and Tricks

Below is a list of spreadsheet wisdom covering frequently asked questions and a few tips and tricks for optimizing your Excel workflow.

Hidden Commands

  • In Excel, commands can often be found in multiple places. If you can’t find the button you’re looking for in the top ribbon, try right clicking to see what Excel suggests.

Chart/Graph/PivotTable

Resize 01---Chart
To add a graph to your sheet, simply click and drag to select the data, navigate to insert on the top ribbon and choose whether you want a table, chart, or PivotTable.

Paste Special

Resize 02--PasteSpecial
Remember when pasting charts into other Office programs that they remain dynamic using a simple paste, meaning the chart will change if you edit the spreadsheet data. To create a static chart, go to paste special and choose a picture format (JPEG or PNG).

Freeze Panes

Resize 03---FreezePane
Freeze panes to allow a header row or column by navigating to view in the top ribbon and selecting freeze panes.

Functions

Resize 04---Fx
Insert a function by clicking on the fx button beneath the top ribbon. You can select cells by clicking and dragging after choosing the mathematical function you’d like.

Autofill

05 - AutoFill
Autofill data by hovering over any corner of a cell until you see a black cross then click and drag to where the cells you’d like to populate.
  • Autofilling formulas automatically adjusts the cell references.
  • Autofilling number series or days of the week automatically fills in the next member of the set.

Filters

Resize 06---Filter
Add filters by selecting the first cell in the column you’d like to sort and then selecting filter from the sort & filter menu on the home ribbon.

When using Excel, keep in mind that this program can function as a calculator, chart maker, list creator, and more! If you think there should be a way to perform a task in Excel, there probably is. Be patient while exploring and experimenting with different ways to manipulate the data. Finally, don’t hesitate to ask for assistance from WIC if the problem becomes too time consuming. We can always be reached at wic1@pobox.upenn.edu.

Van Pelt Study Breaks

Study Breaks are once again hitting Van-Pelt Dietrich Library Center and the Education Commons to close out the semester and get you through finals. This end-of-semester tradition is designed to provide a fun outlet for the stress finals and papers can bring. This year you can find a variety of activities and snacks throughout the library.

Snacks and beverages will be available to refuel study sessions in the Weigle Information Commons Seminar Room (Room 124) and at the Education Commons. There will also be board games and adult coloring books to help you relax. Come de-stress at WIC and the EC all week. Study breaks are held as follows:

  • At the Education Commons: Every day Sunday, 4/30 to Saturday 5/6 at 3pm 
  • At the Weigle Information Commons:
    • Sunday, 4/30 at 1pm
    • Monday, 5/1; Tuesday, 5/2; and Wednesday 5/3 at 4:30pm
    • Friday, 5/5 at 2pm
    • Saturday, 5/6 at 1pm.

Dog Days are back as well! Therapy dogs will dog_days_april_24be in the Meyerson Conference Room on the 2nd floor of Van Pelt on Monday, 5/1 from 1-3pm and Tuesday, 5/2 from 1-3pm. In addition to dogs and snacks, Student Health Services will provide non-canine relaxation tips. You can find more details about the events here. Remember – The dogs love seeing you as much as you enjoy petting them. Be sure to stop by and make these dogs’ days!

No registration is necessary for any study break and all members of the Penn community are welcome.

Students, We Want Your Voices!

focusgroups

WIC is turning 11 years old this month, and we’re planning to give the space a refresh! If you are an undergraduate who studies at WIC, we’d like to hear your voice. We are holding student focus groups throughout April to get feedback on how we might improve our spaces and services to better accommodate student needs.

We will have Insomnia Cookies and giveaways for all who attend! Please register for a session below. All focus groups will be held in the WIC Seminar Room (Rm 124).

Sara Leavens: Communications, Marketing, and Social Media Coordinator

This blog post is the kick-off for a series of profiles that I will be doing on Penn Libraries staff and how their work coincides with the use of social media to reach patrons both traditionally (as in, in-person) and digitally (as in, via blogs, social media, websites, etc.).

The Penn Libraries has been a personal, intellectual home for me over the last five years, and as I wrap up my time as a graduate student here, I hope to share with you some behind-the-scenes insight into the people and resources that have made it possible for someone like me–a non-traditional graduate student–to do the amazing work I’ve been able to do with social media and working directly with library patrons.

My hope is that by the end of this short series, you will come to appreciate all the Penn Libraries has to offer its patrons, and share in my wonder that we have access to these space and resources.

–Jaime Marie Estrada
Social Media Intern, Weigle Information Commons, Penn Libraries
Master of Liberal Arts Candidate, Philosophy and Communications, 2017

For the first blog post of the series “Social Media at Penn Libraries,” I’d like to introduce you to Sara Leavens, a recent addition to the Penn Libraries staff. Sara Leavens came to UPenn from the University of Kansas where she studied creative writing. Sara’s strengths lie in that she understands how to engage with students, faculty, and staff to make the resources available at the libraries more visible using social media and other forms of communications and marketing.

Recently, I had the opportunity to sit down with Sara and learn how she came to Penn and what her first few months on the job were like:

Sara Leavens started at the Penn Libraries as Communications, Marketing, and Social Media Coordinator in 2015.

Since Sara comes from a creative writing background, some of her role comes naturally to her! Sara has an MFA in Creative Writing and had originally planned on being a professor. However, she didn’t want to pursue a PhD, and with a technical communications background from her undergraduate work, she realized there was a need for social media at her academic department at the University of Kansas. Sara started the department’s Twitter and FB pages at the University of Kansas. Eventually, these pages became the most visited departmental pages at UKansas from 2013-2015.

When Sara first started at the Penn Libraries as Communications, Marketing, and Social Media Coordinator in 2015, she found the libraries’ many social media accounts to be quite established. She described her first few months here as a “good will tour,” where she met with head librarians and directors of the 14 (!!!) libraries, to learn about their current social media management and future needs.

From there, Sara went about the challenging and fun work of trying to ascertain and corral all of the social media accounts that each center and library had established for itself. In some cases, it took her as long as two years to hunt down and redirect some of the accounts! Centralizing communications and social media is a common trend being undertaken by many college and university campuses as they are starting to see social media less as a grassroots initiative and as more central to the branding and marketing of higher education to its most important audience: the students.

Continue reading Sara Leavens: Communications, Marketing, and Social Media Coordinator

Social Media Outside of the Classroom

As the graduate intern for social media, I’ve been teaching social media workshops for Penn students, faculty, and staff at the Weigle Information Commons for over two years now. When I first started, it still was not clear what the purpose of social media was in the classroom or in academic life for that matter. However, more and more people are now buying into the idea of personal/professional branding and using social media platforms as learning tools.

In the last two years, we have all noted the rise of social media usage and how the lines between personal, professional, and useful are blurring. With the close of election 2016, the beginning of 2017, and the resurgence of using social media to organize in-person gatherings and protests, there is absolutely no doubt that social media will continue to rise in importance for college-age Americans and those who serve them as educators, mentors, colleagues, and support staff.

Here at the Penn Libraries, January has been an exciting time. On Saturday, the 14th, a hundred or so librarians, scientists, coders, hackers, and interested parties gathered to scrape data from NOAA.gov and other websites prior to the new administration potentially removing it from those sites. In addition, we have a series of workshops on identifying and avoiding “Fake News.” Individually, neither of these events is about “social media” in the way that my social media workshops are, but they are inherently linked to how undergraduate, graduate, and professional students use social media in their everyday lives on-and-off campus, in-and-out of the classroom.

Fake news is often perpetuated through news feeds on social sites like Facebook, Twitter, etc. In addition, accessing real news, and learning about real “threats” such as losing valuable information about climate change or other public scientific data, also occurs on social media sites. Most of us access our news digitally and many of us access our news on social media platforms.

For many years, I’ve heard concerns from older generations that millennials and younger generations consume news and “real information” differently and perhaps less intentionally. This quote from the Media Insight Project’s study on how millennials get their news is illuminating:

The worry is that Millennials’ awareness of the world, as a result, is narrow, their discovery of events is incidental and passive, and that news is just one of many random elements in a social feed.

This has been the concern of older generations of educators since I started working professionally with social media in college in 2010 and continues through to today. From my experience, students at both the graduate and undergraduate levels are very concerned that they are accessing and publishing the right information. There is a lot of social anxiety around what our brands look like online and building those brands requires a certain level of familiarity and comfort with using social media. For intellectual spaces like Penn, it also means that there is growing concern among active users of social media that their intellectual growth and learning empowers them to understand what they read and take action on it. Here are some of that 2014 study’s findings about how millennials consume news:

  • While Millennials are highly equipped, it is not true they are constantly connected. More than 90 percent of adults age 18-34 surveyed own smartphones, and half own tablets. But only half (51 percent) say they are online most or all of the day.

  • Email is the most common digital activity, but news is a significant part of the online lives of Millennials, as well. Fully 69 percent report getting news at least once a day — 40 percent several times a day.

  • Millennials acquire news for many reasons, which include a fairly even mix of civic motivations (74 percent), problem-solving needs (63 percent), and social factors (67 percent) such as talking about it with friends.

As we look forward into this new year, I plan to attend as many workshops and teach as many workshops as possible about how to continue to be a responsible consumer of media. Keep the Penn Weigle Information Commons and the Penn Libraries’ programming sites bookmarked as these are themes that we continue to explore as a university and a community.

If you’re interested attending our ongoing workshops relating to media consumption, digital, and social media, here are a few:

(Jan. 30) Shoddy News

(Feb. 8) Creating Meaningful Graphics

(Feb. 15) Creating Video Presentations

New Statistical Software Consultant

Patricia PoseyPatricia Posey, our new statistical software consultant, begins this coming week, offering appointments to provide assistance with statistical software, including R, Stata, and SPSS. She welcomes questions about proper commands, data visualization, and regression analysis. She cautions that her assistance is not intended to help students decide on the suitability of a given statistical method for their research, pick which datasets to use, or interpret results that should be based on the researcher’s ideas and discipline-specific expectations.

Patricia is a 4th year doctoral candidate in Political Science, where she specializes in American Politics. Her research investigates how financial services influence the political engagement and political attitudes of racial and ethnic minorities. Her statistical experience covers analysis of a variety of social science data sets. She obtained a Bachelor of Arts Degrees in Political Science and Sociology with a minor in Latin American Studies from the University of Florida in 2013.

Patricia will be offering statistical software help by appointment on Monday and Tuesday afternoons at WIC in room 116, starting on January 30th. Use the online scheduler to view her availability and request an appointment.

A Chilly Winter Break at WIC

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With finals upon us and winter break quickly approaching, we wanted to inform our patrons that we’ll be having some work done at WIC over winter break. From December 27th through 30th, the library duct systems will be cleaned, which means that WIC will be chilly, noisy, and possibly overtaken by workers in certain booths and rooms. Even though WIC will be open (but not staffed) those days from 8:30am to 5pm, we’ve taken all of the bookings for the booths, group study rooms, and the WIC Seminar Room offline in case our workers need them. Anyone using WIC is more that welcome to sit in a booth or room, but please know that if the workers need access to any areas, they may ask you to move.

Please feel free to get in touch with us at wic1@pobox.upenn.edu with any questions. We wish everyone a happy holiday and restful winter break!