Five Types of Software

Drill and practice is commonly used in the classroom today in our district. It is a simple way for teachers to say they are integrating technology into the classroom. Teachers are not required to learn a new skill or knowledge when using this type of software with their students. It is a directed form of teaching as it requires students to answer a question and the student will receive generic feedback based on their answer. An advantage of using drill and skill activities with students is is builds fluency and competency in all subjects. It can be effectively used when a student needs to master a preset skill for high level questions or studying for an upcoming test.   

Examples:

Scootpad Online math and reading website that offers drill and practice activities for students. Teachers set up classrooms, assign tasks based on abilities and receives feedback for each student. Grades K-8

Prepdog Offers math and reading drills practice activities for students to prepare for Common Core and RIT band quizzes. Students and teachers get results on each test and RIT band after the students completes it. Great tool for teachers to differentiate content for individual and group work. Grades K-8

Tutorials are another directed teaching strategy used but the software basically becomes the teacher. Students learn the content and complete activities needed to master the topics through the self-paced instructional program. Students received feedback based on the instructional activities they complete in the instructional program that basically replaces the teacher. This can be beneficial to students in general because they learn at different paces and levels, therefore they are able to move at their own speed. The advantage of using tutorials in the classroom is that it allows teachers who are wanting to “Flip” or “Blend” their classroom. The instructional videos are the online features completed at home or during the instructional day. The teacher can build in face to face time to meet with small groups or individuals during work time.

Examples:

Khan Academy Provides videos on various subjects and topics and offers practice exercises for student directed learning opportunities. Grades K-12

HippoCampus Offers free videos in Math, Natural Science, Social Sciences, and Humanities. Teachers can create accounts for students and make playlists from this website or other websites. Grades 6-12

Simulations are interactive models that show either real or imaginary demonstrations. Simulations can replace the idea of real experiments or demonstrations completed in the classroom. Advantages to using simulations is it eliminates the prep work for teachers, the extra information that may not be pertinent to the demonstration allowing the students to focus on the concept being taught. However, one could also argue that simulations can skew a person’s understanding because it does only show one perspective or outcome. Simulations can be used as a “hook” into a new unit or used as an option if a field trip is not part of a budget. Depending on the instructional strategy used by the teacher, simulations can be considered directed teaching, students will be learning the content through the use of the program. It can also be viewed as a constructivist approach to teaching if students are required to use information in a constructive manner.

Examples:

PHET Interactive Simulations Choose from science or math topics to show how things work. Interactive for students to to manipulate while learning the topic. Grades K-12

NASA Solar System Simulator Create your sky based on dates, field of view, and spacecraft options. Grades 4-12

Instructional games have similar features as the drill and practice programs previously discussed. These software programs are often used for students to work on basic skills or fact recall on specific topics. Instructional games have the added features of rules that need to be address with the students and can have simulation activities embedded in them. Advantages of using these programs is it can be viewed as a fun interactive way for students to have fun while learning or studying for an upcoming exam. Instructional games can be structured for a directed teaching strategy or in a constructivist approach, depending on how it is used with the students.

Examples:

AplusMath A website that focuses on math skills using familiar games like Bingo, Hidden pictures, Memory. Grades K-5

Classtools.net Allow students to create their own drill and skills instructional games, arcade style, and share with their classmates. Grades K-8

Problem Solving Software offers the students a constructivist and self directed approach to learning how to solve problems. Most programs offers scaffolded approaches so students are practicing at their own pace. However, some programs offer some collaborative opportunities for students to work in small groups. With an interactive approach to learning how to solve problems, students often have a variety of solutions to one problem and can often be related to real life scenarios. Advantages to using problem solving activities in the classroom is the real life component it has for students. It allows students to have a better understanding of what impact/outcome their choice would have in their real life.

Examples:

Branches of Power This program reinforces the role of each branch of government. Situations arise and as the player, you must determine the best solution. Your solutions must keep all branches stable and achieve your goals. Grades 5-12

Flight to Freedom A simulation activity allowing students to decide their path for freedom from slavery. The goal is to escape with as many family members as possible. Grades 4-12

Resources:

Roblyer, M.D.(2016). Integrating educational technology into teaching (7th Ed.). Allyn & Bacon

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