Evaluating software is an important component in the process of choosing technology for learning and instruction. The saying goes that you can not read a book by its cover but that is not necessarily true for software. In fact the first thing to understand about a possible software solution has nothing to do with the software. Whether it is for student learning or district management, the key to finding the right software is to know exactly why it is needed and how it is going to be used. For example, selecting software for kindergarten students to learn their numbers requires an understanding of how 5-year old children process information, physically manipulate computer keyboards and a mouse, and understanding how they will use it in class. A teacher should know if students will work independently or in groups and how long will they have to work during any one session. Will their work be saved? If students will work cooperatively, software should be chosen that is designed to engage all the students sitting around the computer. These are a few considerations that teachers should use when they initially review software. There are several others listed later in this article and guidelines listed in the references.
Key Terms in this Chapter
Webinar: A type of Web conference hosting a program that can be viewed by one or many persons that have access to the Internet at one time.
DVD (Digital Versatile Disc): An optical disc storage format used to store high video and sound.
Authentic Learning: Learning activities that align with real world experiences and encourage students to use higher order inquiry based skills for problem-based learning.
PC or Mac: Two types of computers that run different operating software. PC (personal computer) aligns with types such as Dell, IBM, or HP. Mac (Macintosh) computers are designed by Apple Computers.
Likert Scale: A psychometric response scale often used in questionnaires.
Operating System (OS): The required program/software that runs the basic and critical functions of a computer.
Google: Advance search engine on the Web ( http://www.google.com ).