Advantage of Instructional Software in the Classroom
According to Robyler & Doering, instructional software is defined as “Applications software that is designed specifically to deliver or assist with student instruction on a topic”. Technology usage in the classroom began years ago and has changed dramatically since first introduced. There has been much speculation and opinions of how instructional technology will be used in the future. I love the quote from anonymous, “Technology will not replace teachers, but teachers using technology will replace those who don’t.” Technology has developed to become a tool of meaningful integration into the classroom. There are different ways to integrate instructional software and they include drill and practice, tutorials, simulations, instructional games and problem solving activities.
As difficult as it is researching quality videos on youtube, so is the practice of evaluation internet sites, apps, games, and software instruction. As teachers we don’t have the time to evaluate the many possibilities accessed online. A relative advantage chart is one way to continuously evaluate, add on to, or comment on products that teachers may use in their classrooms. This continuous evolving chart can be updated by anyone that it is shared with and focusing on one content area per grade level like literacy, science or math would be extremely helpful for all teachers. Another tool to evaluate is through The Learning Object Review Instrument (LORI) or eliciting ratings and comments from learning resource evaluators; it is available as both a web form and printable document at http://www.elera.net (Nesbit, Belfer, & Leacock, 2004). The purpose of LORI is to support evaluation of multimedia learning objects. This would be another successful place for teachers to collaborate on quality software and applications. The table below shows some specific items that LORI focuses on:
I have found, though, the best instructional software programs or apps are the ones that are integrated by the classroom teacher. If a teacher believes in the product/app, uses it and makes it work for their classroom, then it is a good product. I, personally, let my class evaluate good/effective sites. Kids are great predictors if sites are engaging. Educators then need to weed out which ones are engaging AND provide quality instruction or content to our students. My personalized learning network always comes to my aid in this process of evaluation. An analogy would be going into a hospital and seeing what shoes nurses wear to know what shoes are most comfortable when on your feet all day. You will see many wearing Danskos. Well, I bought a pair and they are my most comfortable shoe to wear at school because I am on my feet all day as well. I look and see what others are using or recommending for applications or instructional programs and I try it.
Leacock, T. L., & Nesbit, J. C. (2007). A Framework for Evaluating the Quality of Multimedia Learning Resources. Educational Technology & Society, 10 (2), 44-59.
Roblyer, M.D. and Doering, A.H. (2013).Integrating Educational Technology Into Teaching, (6th ed.). Upper Saddle River: Pearson Education, Inc.