Image courtesy Wikimedia CommonsInstructional Software in a Fifth Grade ClassroomJanice Bezanson EDTECH 541Spring 2011
Relative AdvantageThe term Relative Advantage was coined by Everett Rogers and refers to “the degree towhich the new method or resources has advantages over the old one” (Doering & Roblyer,2010, p. 429). Effective instructional software has the potential to provide learnersexperiences that they would never have in a traditional brick and mortar classroom.Engaged learning does not happen by chance. “It requires architectural engineering bythe instructor” (Conrad & Donaldson, 2004, p. 13). Determining the relative advantage ofeducational software is a large part of the “architectural engineering” needed by today’sclassroom teacher.
Image courtesy of Wikimedia Commons Today’s software can be used for: Drill and Practice Tutorials Simulations Education Games Applications
Drill & PracticeDrill and practice software allows students to work out problems and gain immediatefeedback on correctness. Although sometimes called “drill & kill” this type of softwarehas advantages in today’s elementary classrooms. This software can take the place ofpaper-pencil exercises and help learners prepare for tests. It is essential that the feedbackis quick and effective. Some of the areas that may beneﬁt from drill and practice softwareare: Math facts Typing skills Vocabulary Countries, states and capitals(Doering & Roblyer, 2010, p. 77 - 81)Drill & Practice WebsitesFact Monster -This site allows learners to use math ﬂash cards and progress at theirown pace.Kids Geo.com -This is a great site for learners to master states and capitals.
TutorialsTutorial software presents an entire instructional unit. This type of software wouldinclude drill & practice components. The beneﬁts include immediate feedback and itoffers instruction that can stand on its own. For it to be effective it should offer: Extensive interactivity Thorough user control Appropriate pedagogy Adequate answer judging and feedback Appropriate graphics Adequate record keeping(Doering & Roblyer, 2010, p. 84 - 86) Tutorial Web Site Chem 4Kids! - This site offers a great instructional unit on chemistry.
SimulationsSimulations allow students to work through hypothetical problem situations and enablesthem to see the impact of their actions. Simulations allow students to be involved incomplex processes while staying safe. For a simulation to be effective it should havegood documentation that explains system characteristics and uses as well as systemaccuracy (Doering & Roblyer, 2010, p. 89).Simulation WebsiteThe Learning Company - This site offers links to both The Oregon Trail and Where in theWorld is Carmen Sandiego? Both of these simulations offer young learners an imaginaryexperience where they can see the impact of their decisions.
Educational GamesEducational Games can motivate learners to spend additional time on subjects. They offeropportunities for content learning while having fun. These games challenge students tocompete and win. In order to be effective they must have: Appealing formats and activities Instructional value Minimal ViolenceEducational games should be used appropriately and involve all students. They can beused effectively to teach students how to work in cooperative groups (Doering & Roblyer,2010, p. 93).Educational Game WebsitesABC Ya! - This website offers a wide variety of educational games that are geared for ﬁfthgraders.Just Kid Games - A site with educational games to help teach kids about math, science,reading and the environment.
ApplicationsSoftware applications are designed to support tasks that are useful to a computer user(Doering & Roblyer, 2010, p. 76). Applications used to be thought of as spreadsheets, wordprocessors and power point presentations. The world of technology has seen a boon in thedevelopment of software applications. Many are useful in today’s classrooms.Application WebsitesJing - This application allows students and teachers a unique way of collaborating.Google Earth for Educators - This site has tutorials and tips on how to use google earthapplications in the classroom.Google Apps - This link discusses google applications appropriate for use in K-12classrooms.Mac Apps - This link discusses Mac applications appropriate for use in K-12 classrooms.
Instructional UsesInstructional uses of software don’t always ﬁt neatly into just one category. There is oftenoverlap. Many offer opportunities for skill practice and exploration. Some offerconstructivist approaches to learning while others offer direct instruction.It is important to determine the Relative Advantage of software to ensure that successfullearning is taking place in today’s twenty-ﬁrst century classrooms.The websites listed below can assist teachers in determining the relative advantage ofsoftware.Children’s Educational SoftwaresLearning Point AssociatesSuper Kids
Resources ✤ References Conrad, R. M., & Donaldson, J. A. (2010). Engaging the online learner, San Francisco: John Wiley & Sons, Inc. Doering, A. H., & Roblyer, M. D. (2010). Integrating educational technology into teaching (5th ed.), United States of America: Pearson Education Inc. ✤ Images Wikimedia Commons