Best Microsoft Office Curriculum: GCFLearnFree vs. Business&ITCenter21 Blog Feature
Anne Kuser

By: Anne Kuser on August 13th, 2020

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Best Microsoft Office Curriculum: GCFLearnFree vs. Business&ITCenter21

Microsoft Office

Due to the increased need for blended learning resources to support distance learning requirements, many business teachers are looking for new digital curriculum options.

You’ll find no shortage of options if you are in the market for Microsoft Office curriculum resources for your business education class. But which one is best for you and your students?

As a developer of a digital curriculum system that incorporates Microsoft Office, one of the most common questions teachers ask us is: 

“How does AES compare to other companies with Microsoft Office curriculum?”

One such resource that we are frequently asked about is GCFLearnFree.

Both GCFLearnFree and Business&ITCenter21 are good options for teaching Microsoft Office, however there are a number of differences.

To help you decide which Microsoft Office curriculum resource is best for you, we’ll answer the most common questions teachers ask about GCFLearnFree and Business&ITCenter21:

  1. What Microsoft Office topics are covered in the curriculum?
  2. What is the intended audience and age level?
  3. What is the instructional format?
  4. What resources are available for teachers?

You’ll also have the opportunity to watch a demo of Business&ITCenter21 to assess whether it's the right resource for you and your students.

1. What Microsoft Office Topics Are Covered in the Curriculum?


When you are exploring curriculum options, one of the most important factors for consideration is whether or not it covers the required topics to meet your students' needs. 

What Topics Can You Teach with GCFLearnFree?

GCF provides curriculum to help people learn "essential skills" in Microsoft Office.

Specifically, the GCF Microsoft Office curriculum includes 8 tutorials:

  • Word
  • Excel
  • PowerPoint
  • Access
  • Excel Formulas
  • Word Tips
  • Excel Tips
  • PowerPoint Tips

These tutorials are free-standing, so you can mix and match based on what your students need. 

Overall, GCF will be a good fit if you are looking for resources to supplement your own Microsoft Office curriculum for Word, Excel, PowerPoint, or Access.

What Topics Can You Teach with Business&ITCenter21?

Business&ITCenter21 offers over 250 hours of Microsoft Office curriculum content for:

  • Microsoft Office
  • Word
  • Excel
  • PowerPoint
  • Access
  • Publisher

There are resources included for Microsoft Office 2013, 2016, 2019, and 365, to ensure the lessons are tailored to the specific software available in your classroom.

The curriculum is designed to teach the basics of each application to set your students up for success on the Microsoft Office Specialist certification and their future careers.

And the Microsoft Office content is just one part of the Business&ITCenter21 curriculum. You'll also get access to over 675 hours of resources on business fundamentals, career readiness, and digital literacy

Overall, Business&ITCenter21 will be a good fit if you are looking for a comprehensive library of curriculum that extensively covers the basics of Microsoft Office (and more).

2. What is the Intended Audience and Age Level?


In addition to aligning with the curriculum topics you teach, you need to ensure that the intended audience and age level of the Microsoft Office lessons are appropriate for your students needs.

What Is the Intended Audience and Age Level for GCF?

GCF is a free and open resource that anyone is able to access - from elementary school students to adult learners.

This means their curriculum is not focused on any particular audience, and it will be up to you as a teacher to decide whether the topics offered are suitable for your class level. 

What is the Intended Audience and Age Level for Business&ITCenter21?

Business&ITCenter21 is designed to be used by teachers in middle and early high school computer applications classes.

The resources are tailored to facilitate learning within these age groups, using a mix of delivery methods to keep the students engaged.

Overall, Business&ITCenter21 will be a good fit for teachers of middle and early high school.

3. What is the Instructional Format of the Microsoft Office Curriculum?


Both GCF and Business&ITCenter21 are digital resources, however the way they are delivered differs.

You may find that your teaching preferences and how your students learn will dictate which one is the best fit for you.

What is the Instructional Format of GCF?

GCF Microsoft Office is a tutorial-based resource that offers a mix of text, video and step-by-step walkthroughs to facilitate different learning styles.

Each tutorial has a single quiz at the end for your students to practice what they learn. However, it's important to note that these quizzes aren't tracked for the teacher to review.

The tutorials can be teacher or student-led, depending on how you want to implement them in your classroom. 

Overall, GCFLearnFree will be a good fit if you are looking for a resource that can be self taught or teacher led and you don't mind putting together additional assessments to measure student learning.

What is the Instructional Format of Business&ITCenter21?

The Business&ITCenter21 curriculum is a mixture of teacher and student led learning, taught using a combination of lectures, hands-on activities, and computer-based learning.

It's delivered via a system of interactive eLearning lessons, skills practice, and both formative and summative assessments. 

Each module within the Business&ITCenter21 is based off of the AES four-phase learning plan, which has been designed to maximize student understanding and cut down on teacher planning time. 

The four phases of the AES curriculum are:

  1. Explore
  2. Learn & Practice
  3. Reflect
  4. Reinforce

The Explore phase consists of teacher-led activities, designed to capture your students interest.

The Learn & Practice phase is the heart of the course, in which your students will work through interactive eLearning lessons.

These student-led lessons are presented through a combination of videos, step-by-step instructions, inline questions, and other interactive learning experiences. 

In many of the Microsoft Office lessons, students work within the actual application to complete tasks and create a real document, spreadsheet, or presentation.

While working through the interactive lessons, students can also complete worksheets and guided notes to better retain information.

The Reflect phase is teacher-led and is designed to help your students review and reconcile the concepts they have learned in the module.

Finally, in the Reinforce phase your students will work through independent projects to help solidify and expand on the concepts and skills they learned in the module.

Overall, Business&ITCenter21 will be a good fit if you are looking for a structured resource that is designed to facilitate a blended learning environment, with a mixture of teacher and student led learning.

4. What Resources are Available for Teachers?


Great digital resources will help simplify teaching, so you can save time on lesson planning and grading, while allowing you to keep students more engaged. 

What Resources are Available for Teachers with GCF?

GCF offers free ‘teacher guides’ to assist and offer general ideas on how you can best implement the Microsoft Office tutorials with your students.

The guides cover topics such as ‘how to use the tutorials’ and ‘teaching tips’. 

Overall, GCF will be a good fit if you are comfortable collating your own curriculum and assessments, without much additional support. 

What Resources are Available for Teachers with Business&ITCenter21?

As a comprehensive digital curriculum system, AES provides supporting teaching materials along with the interactive student lessons. 

There is a wealth of resources available that will help reduce your workload and save you time.

These include lesson plans, teacher presentations, student worksheets, sample answers, rubrics, automatic grading, and student progress tracking.

You also have access to the AES Customer Success team and Help Center articles to walk you through how to best use the system in your classroom.

Overall, Business&ITCenter21 will be a good fit if you are looking for a resource that will help deliver Microsoft Office lessons, while reducing your workload and increasing student engagement. 

Which Microsoft Office Curriculum is Best for You?

Ultimately, the Microsoft Office curriculum you decide on will be based on the goals and needs of you and your students. 

GCF is an excellent free resource that can be used to supplement your existing curriculum.

GCF would be a good option if you need interactive tutorials to help facilitate learning alongside your own curriculum and enjoy creating activities and assessments to measure student progress.

Comparatively, Business&ITCenter21 from AES provides a structured resource to help you teach the skills and easily track student progress. It’s perfect for a teacher looking to meet standards while wanting flexibility based on your own teaching style.

To be sure about which Microsoft Office curriculum is best for your and your students, you'll likely want to try them both out. 

Click below to watch the demo video for Business&ITCenter21 to learn more:

Watch Your Demo Video >>


About Anne Kuser

Anne has been with AES for 21 years, and is an Account Manager for schools in Florida, South Carolina, Georgia, and Tennessee. Originally from England, she now works remotely from South Carolina, and enjoys the southern life and hospitality...Y'ALL!

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