ECI 304 - Educational Applications of Computers: Agenda for April 19 and 20

Project 8 Activity 2 -- Examining the Software (in class on Tuesday and Wednesday)

In the past, teachers have spent time learning how to evaluate software for purchase, but in reality most school systems make the purchasing decision for software at a level above the classroom teacher (usually content specialists). So the issues become:

  1. how to become aware of the software available for your use
  2. decide when to use the software
  3. learn how to use the software
  4. evaluating the software

Becoming aware of the software available

Most school districts have a listing of software available for use, but you may need to "fake it" if you're not teaching. Below is a website to examine for ideas about software available for your classroom:

Those of you currently in schools discuss available software with your media specialist (these are the people responsible for software in most schools). Find at least two examples of software that would be applicable for use in your classroom, either from the SuperKids site or software within your school or home.

Categorize the software

Perhaps the easiest way to begin addressing this issue is to understand the different categories of education software. There are several different classifications used, but the one preferred is:

The article CAI Types (.pdf) will explain the differences between the types just listed. A slightly different set of categories is found at Arizona State.

When selecting software to be used in instruction, your teaching objectives should match the objectives of the software category (for example, you would not want to use Drill and Practice software to tutor students in a concept they did not understand - drill and practice should only be used once students understand the initial concepts). The CAI article explains this aspect in the first paragraph as the stages of learning (simple four stages model by Alessi and Trollip). Using your two examples chosen in the activity above, determine the clasification of each software example and which stage(s) of learning would be appropriate for use of the software.

Learn the software

There are two basic approaches to learning software.

  1. Take a class or training session (or RTFM)
  2. Sit and play, as explained in Do Like the Kids Do.

Consider both methods and reflect: which one would you prefer (or a hybrid?). What would be your ideal platform for learning software to be used in your classroom?

Evaluating the Software

Once the category of software has been determined and you know basically how it works, you complete an evaluation using either your school division' guide or the Software Evaluation Rubric - How to select the best softwareto examine how software might be evaluated. You do not need to perform an actual evaluation of the software, but be familiar with the types of questions and issues involved in software evaluation. Try to incorporate some of these concepts in your report.

Activity 3- Reporting

After examining the four issues above, download the Template for Activities 3 and 4 in Blackboard and add your responses to the following questions. Give a short report to class on each:

Assignments due next week

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