There is a variety of instructional software available for teachers to add to their instruction as a way to make lessons and activities more engaging to students. In their book, Integrating Educational Technology Into Teaching, Roblyer and Doering (2012) share that there are five instructional software functions:
- Drill and Practice
- Instructional Game
- Problem Solving
When incorporating instructional software in lessons and activities, it is important to evaluate the relative advantages of each software package. Some focus on serving one particular function, but many include features of multiple functions. Revisiting the purpose or need for integrating the instructional software can help to keep the evaluation process on track towards selecting the most appropriate software.
There are many advantages to using instructional software in a classroom. One that really stands out to me is that students are able to get more individualized instruction and practice, along with immediate feedback. Tutorial software programs like Khan Academy allow students to watch a lesson presentation as many times as needed to reinforce concepts they may have already learned. When students are set up with an account, they get access to a self-passed program that also lets them practice the skills they are learning and tracks their progress for parents and teachers to reference. Another advantage is that teachers can save resources and time. Why have paper and pencil multiplication practice when it can be done on the computer as a fun game? Software programs like Arcademic Skill Builders provide proficiency data and list which problems a student got incorrect during the timed game. Students are even able to play against other students, adding an element of competition that can be motivating for some. This helps to reduce the need for making copies of worksheets and time in correcting them.
Relative Advantages for Instructional Software Functions:
Drill and Practice – motivating, self-paced, saves time and resources, immediate feedback
Tutorial – motivating, self-paced, playback ability, immediate feedback, saves time and resources
Simulation – motivating, self-paced, playback or repeat ability, saves time and resources, safe
Instructional Game – motivating, increase retention, reinforces skills in a fun way
Problem Solving – motivating, visual aide, demonstrates application of skills
Here are two resources to help with evaluating instructional software:
How to Evaluate Instructional Software and Websites: http://www.techknowlogia.org/TKL_Articles/PDF/129.pdf
Criteria Checklist for Evaluating Instructional Software: http://wps.prenhall.com/wps/media/objects/2448/2507611/Volume_medialib/IAF04.PDF
Here is the link to my Instructional Software Presentation:
Roblyer, M.D, & Doering, A.H. (2012). Integrating educational technology into teaching (6th Edition). Upper Saddle River, NJ: Pearson Education, Inc.