Version Conversion

Over this summer, we have brought Office 2013 into our teaching rooms. This involves all sorts of fun for the team who painstakingly test and manage the software “image” for us, and of course the teachers who revise all course materials that touch on MS Office. But it hasn’t been as much of an upheaval as you might think.

Our aim as teachers is to help people understand what’s going on with their spreadsheet or document, rather than train them where to point and click. We are interested in guiding people to design a relational database that works and will continue to work for them as their project progresses.

So in our face-to-face courses people find that there is more demonstration and explanation, less focus on memorizing a series of commands. That makes for a more interesting session for everyone, and it means we can accommodate people who use all sorts of software versions in their everyday work.

People around Oxford use a range of software versions, and typically IT Services does not even try to control that: a department, college or unit makes its own decisions about which software is most suitable. A quick survey at home revealed that my family which has affiliations to a range of institutions has, on various devices: Office 2010, 2013, 365 (the online one, free for students), 2011 (the Mac one) and 2003 (that’s the NHS, don’t ask for details).

So people who come along to our courses may have to adjust what they have learnt with us, to suit the kit they have to work with. And generally they tell us they don’t find any particular difficulty with this. The point is that once you understand what is going on, you can usually apply it to your software version. The Help is often helpful if a command has moved around the menus or ribbon.

We keep a full archive of previous course material, so we can continue pointing people to the Office 2010 course books and exercise files if they prefer. Course packs are downloadable from the ITLP Portfolio at

And now that is available free to University members (, here is another resource: a library of short videos that will jog your memory about how to do that thing you’ve forgotten or where to find that command. offers videos about Office for Windows, Mac and 365-online, including versions all the way from Office 2003 to Office 2016 that is now out in preview.

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