Understanding Educational Software in the Classroom
Computers offer incredible opportunities to advance education in all types and ages of students. There are actually a lot of different types of educational software, including:
- Interactive software for preschool children who aren’t ready to use a mouse or keyboard quite yet.
- Educational software for teaching academic skills such as math.
- Programs that will teach children basic keyboarding skills.
- Software that teaches children how to think logically and to solve problems.
- Artistic software that your child can use to create and color 3D pictures. These can usually be printed out.
Why it is Important to Use
There are lots of great reasons why you should consider using educational software in your classroom. For instance, this software will enable your students to become more effective independent learners. Even severely disabled students can succeed herein because this software places everyone on the same level.
This software can also enable students to gather information that otherwise would have been impossible, time-consuming or costly. For instance, data from outer space can now be utilized. Students can also experiment with the changing aspects of a model like increasing or lowering interest rates in order to see how this affects the economy. All of this can be very motivational for students and these are just some of the numerous advantages of educational software.
One way to incorporate educational software into your curriculum is to set aside at least 30 minutes within your classroom each day. During this time you will only want to focus on one or two different skills along with proper computer usage. This should not be difficult to do since the only time that you will want to help the child is when he is stuck. Otherwise allow him to have time to explore and learn on his own.
Some of the biggest advantages include:
- Children control their own learning experience, the pace at which they learn and how challenged they are.
- Computers help children to use all of their senses to extract information.
- Children learn through creating and utilizing hands-on knowledge.
- Computers help children develop a positive attitude towards technology.
- Computers are beneficial in developing children’s fundamental skills (i.e. letters, numbers, colors, shapes, rhythm, cause and effect, problem solving, procedural thinking, creativity).
- Computers are really beneficial to children who have speech, audio or motor limitations because they act as a patient tutor allowing the child to learn at his own pace.
- Computers can teach self-confidence and self-esteem.
- Computers can teach social skills.
As with anything else in life, there are also some disadvantages. These include:
- Software needs to be carefully chosen in order to ensure that what is holding your child’s attention is also educating them at the same time.
- Some software doesn’t make it obvious that it has no educational value.
- It is rare to find a school that has enough computers for every student, thus scheduling can become problematic.
- It is difficult to get a student’s attention whenever they are on the computer.
- Muscular-skeletal injuries and vision problems can arise whenever students spend too much time using the computer.
Where to Find Educational Software
There are a lot of great places where you can purchase educational software today. One such place is Sebran’s ABC. This site has freeware that teaches numbers, letters and basic math and reading skills. Once your child is ready to move beyond this level, you can try incorporating math, geography, and English and Spanish quizzes from Quiz Tree. There are also educational software programs available for high school students to help them learn things like pre-algebra and algebra. You can find this type of educational software from Bagatrix.
What to Look For
Now that you know what this software consists of, you still need to know what to look for in it. The main thing is that you will want children to be able to operate it themselves. Of course, you are also going to want to make sure that it fits into what is being taught within your classroom. Herein lies your opportunity to also introduce children to new subjects in a way that they will both accept and enjoy.
Take your time to review what is included in the software before making a decision to purchase. Some suggestions include:
- Owl & Mouse offers several free software programs that are either games or interactive activities. These teach phonics, reading, building towns and castles and mapping.
- Jump Start Reading with Karaoke introduces children to a magical world of phonics through song.
- Ready for Math with Pooh allows children to work with their favorite Pooh characters to design a garden while learning basic math skills.
- Typing Instructor for Kids helps children master the important techniques that are used in typing.
- Arthur’s Thinking Games allow children to develop problem solving skills and logical thinking skills. There are 39 different activities that will help to enhance your child’s memory and critical thinking skills.