Definition:“Software that helps teach, using the computer to assist the instructional process.” (Western Carolina University, 2008)
① Drill-and-Practice② Tutorials③ Simulations④ Instructional Games⑤ Problem-Solving Software
Definition:This type of instructional softwareprovides exercises in whichstudents repeatedly work throughdifferent items, and receiveimmediate feedback for their work(feedback levels and depth varies).
Potential benefits:• Assists in students’ need to transfer newly learned information into long term memory.• Successful at helping kids learn correct procedures.• Helps prepare students for higher-order skills through first gaining automaticity and fluency.• Compared with pencil-and-paper worksheets, software is more efficient and appealing to students (hence increases motivation).• Saves teacher’s time!
Potential disadvantages:• Misuse by teachers (as a way to introduce new skills, or use it too much).• It contradicts the Reconstructed Curriculum idea that students learn and use skills in an integrated and authentic way.
Suggested guidelines for use:• Set time limits (10-15 minutes per day)• Assign individually (differentiate)• Don’t assign if students don’t need it!
Definition:An entire instructional sequence on a topic.It is usually a specific instructional unitrather than a supplement to otherinstruction.”There are 2 types of Tutorial software:• Linear tutorial- Offers no differentiation.• Branching tutorial- more sophisticated; directs students on alternate path based on performance.
Good tutorials should include:• Extensive interactivity• Provide appropriate feedback.• Thorough user control (especially for pacing)• Appropriate pedagogy (in terms of sequence, explanation, etc)• Adequate answer-judging and feedback capabilities.• Appropriate graphics• Adequate record keeping.
Benefits:• Same as Drill-and-Practice software (feedback, motivation, and time saving).• Self-contained and self-paced unit of instruction.• Can be used as an alternative learning strategy.• Can be used independently, when the teacher is unavailable
Potential Limitations:• Direct instruction rather than allowing students to generate their own knowledge through hands-on projects.• Lack of high quality products• Reflects only one instructional approach (no teacher choice in how it is taught and what is included)
Suggested guidelines for use:• Assign individually.• Use as a learning station.
• Definition: “a computerized model of a real or imagined system. Designed to teach how a system works.”
Types of Simulation Software:• Physical simulations- user can manipulate things or processes.• Iterative simulations- manipulates speed (slows down or speeds up the process)• Procedural simulations- teaches the appropriate sequence.• Situational simulations- presents hypothetical problem situations and the user is to react to them.
Benefits:• Depends on how they are used, and whom they are used with…• Works best when combined with non- simulation activities.• Usually better than real-life demonstrations (novice teachers often add too much peripheral information that confuses students)• Compresses time (when teaching about slow processes)
More Benefits:• Slows down processes• Gets students involved (user choice and interaction)• Makes experimentation safe• Makes the impossible possible (access to resources, allows for creativity, etc)• Saves money and other resources.• Allows for repetition with variations.• Allows observation of complex processes.
Limitations:• Criticism- Does not, and should not, replace the hands-on nature of real experimentation.• Inaccuracy of models.• Teacher misuse of simulations (i.e., when a process can be shown quickly and with little resources)
Suggestions for use:• Use instead of, or as supplement to, lab experiments.• Use instead of, or as supplement to, role-playing.• Use instead of, or as supplement to, field trips.• Introduce and/or clarify a new topic.• Foster exploration and process learning (emulate in-class science lab)• Encourage cooperation and group work.
• Definition: Software that adds game-like rules and/or competition to learning activities.
Potential Limitations:• Learning vs. having fun• Confusion of game rules and real-life rules• Inefficient learning• Classroom barriers (insufficient school resources which effect widespread implementation).
Suggested guidelines for use:• Use sparingly• Involve all students• Emphasize the content-area skills first
What is Problem Solving? “[a] cognitive processing directed at achieving a goal when the solution is not obvious”Components:• Recognition of a goal (opportunities to solve problems)• A process (process of physical activities or operations)• A mental activity (cognitive operations to pursue a solution)
This type of software focuses on:• fostering component skills in (or approaches to) general problem-solving abilities• providing opportunities to practice solving different kinds of content-area problems.
Benefits:• Promotes visualization in math-related problem solving.• Improves interest and motivation• Prevents inert knowledge (by illustrating situations in which skills apply).
Potential limitations:• Names vs. Skills- Too many synonyms for “Problem Solving” can hinder teachers’ choice of appropriate software.• Software claims vs. effectiveness• Possible negative effects of directed instruction (the belief that it should not be taught per se, but through real life situations).• Transfer to real life situations.
Steps for integrating problem-solvingsoftware for directed teaching:1. Identify particular skill/s or capabilities.2. Decide on activity/ies that will help teach the desired skill.3. Research software that helps teaching this skill (but don’t believe the vendors!).4. Determine how it fits into the teaching sequence.5. Model the use of the software and the steps for problem solving.6. Build in transfer activities.
Suggestions for integrating problem-solvingsoftware according to constructivist Models:1. Allow sufficient time to explore, but provide some structure (directions, goals, schedule, organized times, etc.).2. Differentiate the amount of direction to students.3. Promote a reflective learning environment (include discussions about the process).4. Emphasize thinking processes, not correct answers.5. Discuss the relationship between the software activities and other types of problem solving.6. Group students (pairs and small groups)7. When assessing- use alternatives to paper-and-pencil tests!
Suggestions for integrating problem-solvingsoftware according to Constructivist models:1. Allow sufficient time to explore, but provide some structure (directions, goals, schedule, organized times, etc.).2. Differentiate the amount of direction to students.3. Promote a reflective learning environment (include discussions about the process).4. Emphasize thinking processes, not correct answers.5. Discuss the relationship between the software activities and other types of problem solving.6. Group students (pairs and small groups)7. When assessing- use alternatives to paper-and-pencil tests!
REFERENCES:Roblyer, M. D., & Doering, A. H. (2012). Integrating EducationalTechnology into Teaching (6th ed.). Allyn & Bacon.Western Carolina University. (2008). Educational Software.Retrieved fromhttp://www.wcu.edu/ceap/houghton/learner/look/CAI.html#selecting
ADDITIONAL READINGS/ RESOURCES All about Educational Software http://www.wcu.edu/ceap/houghton/learner/look/CAI.html#selecting Advice and support on how to use technology in the classroom: http://www.softwarecentral.ie/ Reviews of Educational Software (and more…): http://www.superkids.com/ http://www.schoolzone.co.uk/ http://teemeducation.org.uk/ Hands-on science vs. Simulation Science: http://www.stemreports.com/2010/hands-on-science-vs-simulation- software/ Benefits of computer games: http://www.guardian.co.uk/education/2006/dec/12/elearning.technology10