My latest at ProfHacker: Exploring Google Sheets

Google sheets chartSometimes you miss things. Apparently Google released this feature over a year ago, but only recently did I notice the “Explore” button in Google Sheets — likely because, for whatever reason, Google decided to call it to my attention by splashing a notice over the lower right quadrant of my browser window.

I’m glad it did. There are times when I’d like to analyze information I have in a spreadsheet, but I’m only moderately good at formulas, and positively lousy at creating charts. Clicking on the “Explore” button goes a long way toward helping me out.

For example, the lead image of this post shows how each (fictional!) student in a class did on each of three exams based on the sample data below:

Sample Google Sheets data

I can immediately see whether or not a student is improving over time. I did nothing to create the chart in question; Google automatically created it for me when I clicked the “Explore” button.

It’s also possible — to a point — to ask Google questions about the spreadsheet in somewhat natural language. When I typed “Exam 1 average” into the question area, for instance, Google helpfully returned a value of 83.5, and offered to show me the formula so I could figure it out myself next time. On the other hand, when I typed “Student A average,” it didn’t understand my question. (Though if I really didn’t know how to find the average of a set of numbers, having seen the formula for “Exam 1 average” would help me figure out how to calculate “Student A average” on my own.)

The “Explore” feature seems to be a useful feature for quickly exploring data, and for creating charts. I can see it being useful for tracking the progress of a class over time, comparing different sections of the same course, and the like.

If you’ve used this feature in Google Sheets, how has it worked for you? Do you have other favorite tools for exploring spreadsheet data? Let us know in the comments!

from ProfHacker » Amy CavenderProfHacker – Blogs – The Chronicle of Higher Education

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