I have recently been challenged by an increased class size in an already demanding course. Over this past semester I have learned a few transformative tips from my colleagues online and in-person. The focus of this post is on the biggest time saver I discovered: The Mail Merge. My life will never be the same.

I have had the opportunity to pass this tip along to a few faculty and the reaction is always the same – pure amazement. If you track student data in a spreadsheet and want to communicate that data to students simply follow the mail merge wizard in Word. It is so easy and saves me tons of time. I can’t believe that I use to individually email students data from an Excel spreadsheet.

This term I did gamification. When it was ending I needed to communicate with students what badges they earned, what points they already spent, and what their point balance was. Going through all of these individually would have taken forever. Thankfully I know a guy.

Office logos behind a guy in a cape
Image that looks kinda like Sidney by mohamed Hassan from Pixabay

Since learning this trick I have used the tool on several occasions and students love the improved communication. I no longer use the wizard, but recommend it as a starting point.

Sample email sent to students

Step 1: Click on Mailings

Step 2: Use the Step-by-Step Mail Merge Wizard

Or just write your email and insert merge fields where you need them.

Here is a video if you want more detailed instructions:

Until I discovered this I was strongly situated in the Google camp. Google did not have an easy way to do this. I still like Google for it’s collaboration tools but Microsoft is more powerful. Moving forward my data will be stored in Excel. I have embraced it because of watching the Twitter chatter and seeing what Sidney and his students do with Excel. Sometimes I have issues with data that was tracked in Google then downloaded in excel format so I am just going to embrace Excel. Come talk to Sidney about how awesome Excel is in the Hub. Just wait until we show you what one of his students built with my calendar data. Come to this PD session (or watch for the blog) to find out. What else could I be missing about this amazing tool? I signed up for a course to find out.

Future Goals?


Laura Killam is an experienced nursing educator from Northern Ontario with a keen interest in improving student learning through innovation. For more information please visit http://nursekillam.com/.


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