“Your children do not need the computers or lab time. Having a video arcade is not part of the curriculum!” This comment frustrates me as an educator. Perhaps to the untrained eye, my students look like they are playing games. The familiar cartoon characters, the colorful graphics, the fun sounds, and the look of pure excitement on the children’s faces could be confusing to someone who is untrained in technology. They do not recognize the quality of learning coming from what is on those computer screens. The excitement and motivation alive in the classroom is not exactly what one may picture when they think of a child studying. The terrific news is that students do not have to sit quietly at a desk, listening to a teacher, while trying to write succinct notes, in order to achieve. Educational software offers students a wide variety of new and exciting ways to learn, problem solve, and collaborate with peers
I have read countless articles stating that students have to “unplug” before they enter their school building. Children are constantly playing video games, using online communication and never leave home without their cell phone. Instead of fighting their use of the newest gadgets and gaming adventures, educators can entice student learning by incorporating approved software into daily activities. Software comes in five different categories from which to choose: drill and practice, tutorial, simulation, instructional game, and problem solving. One of them will prove beneficial to any classroom setting. Education World (staff, 1996-2010) lists many reviews of software and is a wonderful starting point.
There are important questions that must be answered before having your students use any software in the classroom. In what part of the curriculum will I implement software? What learning objective do I have for my students? Does this software provide educational benefits for learning? Is this software going to meet the needs of all my students? Will my students be able to use this software successfully? Software has relative advantages when it is incorporated into a students’ learning with direct planning and assessment. Integrating Educational Technology into the Curriculum (Roblyer, 2010)gives educators and administrators a Software Evaluation Checklist to help guide the decision process in determining if a certain software will accomplish the desired goals set for the children.
Students learn at different levels, depending on the subject matter or possible learning disadvantages. The amazing aspect of educational software is that its delivery method is appropriate for visual, auditory, and kinesthetic learners. I have not met a student yet, in my 17 years of teaching all ages, that was not thrilled at the idea of using a computer.
I encourage all teachers to test drive educational software with their students. If selected properly, you may be surprised by the results. You cannot judge the effective use of technology from the outside looking in. The only way to know if technology software works for you is to try it. My mantra is “Learn by Doing”. That is exactly how my passion for technology blossomed. I dove in head first and haven’t drowned yet. You can too!
Roblyer, M. D. (2010). Essential Criteria Checklist for Evaluating Instructional Software. Retrieved Feb. 10, 2010, from Integrating Educational Technology into Teaching (5th Edition) Companion Web Site: http://wps.prenhall.com/wps/media/objects/2448/2507611/Volume_medialib/IAF03.PDF
staff. (1996-2010). Educational Technology. Retrieved February 14, 2010, from Education Word Web Site: http://www.educationworld.com/awards/past/topics/ed_tech.shtml#Software