Why you can’t effectively learn Excel 2016/365 using a Video Tutorial

Why you can’t effectively learn Excel 365 using a Video Tutorial

Excel 365 uses the new Software as a Service (SaaS) business model

In the new SaaS world, you don’t buy software any more – you effectively rent it via a subscription. The software then continually improves and changes via automatic online updates.  This means that every user is always using the same, latest version of the software.  Excel 365 is the SaaS (and most powerful) version of Excel.  

Though Office 2019 (containing the non SaaS version of Excel that will never be updated with new features) can still be purchased for a one-time payment it seems unlikely that many purchasers will choose this option due to the many advantages of the SaaS model.  It is likely that there will never be another non-SaaS version of Office after Office 2019.

Why SaaS software (such as Excel 365) can not be mastered using video tutorials

If you’ve needed help in using a software feature recently, you may have become very frustrated when searching the web for the solution

You’ll often find a YouTube video that was made a few months ago but the screen in the video looks nothing like yours does and the narrator cheerfully tells you to click on menu options that don’t exist anymore. I have done this so many times recently when searching for help with Windows 10, Google Chrome and Android features.

When you use modern SaaS software (such as Office 365 and Windows 10), you must be prepared for things to constantly change from day-to-day as automatic updates are applied. Often a few new buttons will pop up here and there, new features will unexpectedly arrive, and features that used to be there will disappear (or move to another location).

Books and e-Books are the most efficient way to learn Excel 365

It is clearly not useful or efficient for learners to attempt to learn to use frequently updated SaaS software (such as Excel 365) using video tutorials.  A video tutorial would not match what the user is seeing on their screen and the instructions would often be impossible to follow.  This is one of the few disadvantages of the SaaS revolution.

In the new world of SaaS software (such as Excel 365) the carefully crafted written word has become more relevant and useful as a software teaching medium provided that it is constantly updated.  Smart Method Excel 365 books have a new edition (with a new ISBN number) every six months to match the new Excel 365 semi-annual update that Microsoft release in January and July of each year.  The books are clearly marked on the front cover to advise which version they should be used with.

For older Excel versions, our Excel 2007, 2010 and 2013 video tutorials are as useful today as the day they were released

We produced the world’s most popular video tutorials for the earlier (pre SaaS) versions of Excel. Each course was based upon a Smart Method book and some have a run time of well over 20 hours.  You can view some free sample videos here.

The Smart Method’s professionally produced video courses each took around six months to script, record and edit but that was fine as they had a lifetime of many years. For these (pre-SaaS versions) you can still subscribe to the full video course and view all of the videos online if you wish to. I’m personally amazed that even the Excel 2007 video course is still finding buyers today – eleven years after I recorded it.

This is possible because anybody using Excel 2007, 2010 and 2013 today is using the very same version that was originally released (with only a few bug fix updates). This means that the videos perfectly match what the user sees on their screen.

There are now two (very different) versions of Excel in common use

The Excel 2019 perpetual license version is very different to Excel 365 (the subscription version).  You can read about some of the differences listed in this article.

In late 2018 a perpetual licensed version of Excel 2019 was released.  At this time Excel 2016 for Office 365 subscribers ceased to exist. Office 365 subscribers didn’t even notice that a new perpetual version has been released as their Office version already had more features than Office 2019.

There are now two Excel versions in common use: Excel 2019 and Excel 365.  Excel 2019 added a massive number of new ways to analyse data with the addition of Power Pivot and the ability to perform modern data analysis (a name given to multi-dimensional analysis using OLAP features).  For this reason it is expected that most professional Excel 2016 users will rapidly migrate to either Excel 2019 or Excel 365.  Modern data analysis (using Power Pivot and DAX) is extensively covered in our Excel 2019 and Excel 365 Expert Skills books.

Business users of Excel use a different update channel to home users

Software that updates very frequently is bad for business productivity. For this reason, business users of both Windows 10 and Microsoft Office 365 are protected from constant “version shock” and are only updated with new features every six months (using the semi-annual update channel).

Office (and Windows 10) versions targeted at home users cannot use the semi-annual update channel and must use the monthly update channel. This means that they may receive feature updates a little earlier than business users.

How we support Excel's new SaaS model in our training materials

Software that uses the SaaS model creates new challenges for training and support. Here is The Smart Method’s strategy for supporting our Excel training materials:

Excel 2016 and Excel 2019. We have dedicated  Excel 2019 and Excel 2016 books and e-books.  These books will not change during the lifetime of these products as they will never be updated by Microsoft with new features.

Excel 365. With the release of Office 2019, Excel 365 is regarded as a separate product (ending the confusion caused by differences between the Excel 2016 perpetual license version and the Excel 2016 for Office 365 subscribers version).  Users of the product previously known as Excel 2016 for Office 365 Subscribers have now simply become Excel 365 subscribers.

We now produce separate learning materials specifically for Excel 365 users that are updated with each semi-annual update.  Our Excel 365 books will have a new edition (and a new ISBN number) in January and July each year to coincide with each new Excel 365 semi-annual release.

 

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