This week we were to read Chapters 3-5 in Integrating Educational Technology into Teaching. The topic was technology tools in the 21st Century. These chapters provided an insight into just what Instructional Software is, the difference between instructional and software (productivity) suites, and how to integrate applications into lessons. The authors highlighted how these tools can enhance learning when embedded into lessons. Throughout the chapters there were tables of free open source options, relative advantage charts, and suggestions on how best integrate a specific tool. Our focus for the weeks project was the Instructional Software aspect.
So, just what is Instructional Software? It is computer software designed for the primary purpose of teaching or self-learning. There are five basic categories of instructional software:
- Drill & Practice – designed to help users remember facts or concepts quickly, while providing feedback as to whether the answer is correct or not. Its purpose is to increase automaticity of recall skills
- Tutorial – provides a complete cycle of instruction on a specific topic.It can be used as independent study or in a small group setting for remediation or enrichment.
- Simulation – computerized model to allow user to learn how something works. Provides a glimpse into the “real-world” and allows users to experiment without risk.
- Instructional Games – educational concepts applied in a game setting. The primary purpose is to increase student motivation.
- Problem-Solving – teaches specific steps to solve a particular type problem or general problem-solving and higher order thinking skills.
There are many advantages to using instructional software, the two main reasons that may get your attention are time and motivation! Let’s look at the first reason, time.
At the middle school I work in, classes are only 57 minutes. In that time the teacher has to go through the entire cycle of instruction, while providing differentiated instruction. It is like running a race while doing juggling act. That is where instructional software comes in to play. A teacher can be multi-tasking through the use of technology with the ability to monitor students actual progress, instead of using dreaded worksheets and flash cards. Students who are still struggling with basic concepts or need to continue practicing skills can be using drill and practice applications. Meanwhile, you may have a student or two who were absent and missed a lesson. A tutorial such as those at Khan Academy may be just the answer. Do you remember back in kindergarten when you planted a seed in a Styrofoam cup, and anxiously checked it everyday to see if it was growing? A simulation can take a slow process and speed it up (watch that plant go from a seed to a plant in a minute or two) or take a fast process and slow it down. You can also use simulations as alternatives to live experiments and dissections. There is a time and place, even in 57 minutes, for a game or two. Do you ever have students who grasp the concept, get their work done, and then use the rest of the time to see how many other students they can distract? Maybe a creative redirect in the form of an educational game, that unbeknownst to them reinforces the concept, or a problem-solving program that requires students to use high-order thinking skills may be a more appropriate activity for these students.
Now, let’s go back to the second reason – motivation. The students sitting in our classrooms today are much more tech savvy than their predecessors. Many of these students literally cut their teeth on a cellphone! It is quite common for a pre-school student to be able to operate a computer or tablet with ease. Students are used to using technology. They enjoy it. The same task that is a drudge on paper is generally better accepted and completed when getting to use technology. Thus, to be able to use technology to replace tedious assignments or repetitive tasks creates a higher level of motivation.
Are you ready to take the instructional software plunge? Let’s start by exploring “How to” articles from Education World and TechKnowLogia to develop an understanding of how to evaluate instructional software.
Now that you have a better understanding on how to evaluate an application, explore the chart below and figure out just how your students could benefit from using instructional software to enhance to your instruction.
|Drill and Practice||
||Internet 4 Classrooms
Internet 4 Classrooms
||Social Studies Central||Mathworks
STEM Real Life Math
||Read Write Think||Maven
Math by Design
Well, what is your next step going to be?
Roblyer, M.D., & Doering, A. H. (2013). Technology Tools for 21st Century Teaching. Integrating Educational
Technology Into Teaching, Sixth Edition (pp. 72-169). Upper Saddle River, NJ: Pearson