Instructional Software Overview

For the 3rd week of EDTECH 541, I am writing a bit about Chapter 3 & 5 of the course textbook.  These Chapters discussed different types of software that can be used in education, under what circumstances they could be applied and how it benefits the students using a particular type of software, such as 1) Drill & Practice, 2) Tutorials, 3) Simulations, 4) Instructional Games and 5) Problem Solving Software.

Drill & Practice software provides instant feedback for the student, can be a quick way for students to memorize multiplication tables, for example, and can also track the student’s progress for the teacher and parents.  The downfall that I see with this software, is that it can be overused, which would decrease the student’s motivation to learn or use it.  SuperKids Software Review reviewed the Edventure Software product, “Soccer Math”, which is intended for students who need to practice basic Math skills.

Tutorials present the student with details of a newer concept and are similar to drill & practice, which tutorials can be sometimes mistaken.  Branching tutorials will provide tougher or easier questions that allow students to learn and develop at their own pace, while linear tutorials allow students to learn at the same rate as the rest of their class.  Finding Math tutorials on the web is difficult, and could be due to software being mislabeled or a mix of software types packaged together, which take time to review. However, Khan Academy seems to hold mostly drill & practice software, and displays problem-solving tutorials to the users, if they select it. This would be useful for students who need practice and review of how to solve the fraction problem, for example.

Simulations allow students to solve problems in a virtual environment, safely and much cheaper, using less natural resources and funding than it normally would, but still allowing students to be creative.  Additionally, simulations may be better used after a hands-on activity, such as learning about shape similarities and differences, for example. I found that the National Council of Teachers of Mathematics (NCTM) site had many great lessons for Math, such as the Rectangle vs Parallelogram activity.

Instructional Games can motivate students to learn, because they exercise competition and are entertaining. Additionally, they can be used as a reward, teach collaborative play among students in or outside of the school and help with life skills, such as perseverance and attention. One website that has many great Math games, but provides ad pop-ups regularly, is Cool Math Games. However, the Superkids Software Review site lists many Math games that would motivate kids to learn and has printable worksheets to use with its software lessons.

Problem Solving software assists its users with varied sub-skills for problem solving, such as “metacognition, observing, recalling information, sequencing, analyzing, finding and organizing information”.  Good software should improve a student’s motivation, allow students to discover concepts, and promote visualizing abstract concepts, such as graphing data. Refer to the Favorite Pizza Toppings lesson on the NCTM site.

As with all software, it’s important to do a test-run before purchasing, in order to better understand both negative and positive aspects, before using with your students.

 

References

Roblyer, M.D. (2016). Integrating educational technology into teaching. (7th ed.). Nova Southeastern University: Pearson.

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2 thoughts on “Instructional Software Overview

  1. Some really great resources here which I can tap into. Thanks for posting them. I agree with your final sentiment about testing – it is only useful if you know it will help learning in your context. Nice job, thanks.

    Like

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