Software Used in Education
By Deanne Lachner
Educational software today is more than basic instructional programs. Increasingly sophisticated and prevalent in today's schools, free and for-cost software is now designed to help students and educators with organization, productivity, research, presentation and learning. Students who might not enjoy sitting in class listening to a lecture or filling out worksheets may perk up at the thought of an educational game designed to teach math using sound and graphics.
Multimedia is content that combines more than one method of communication, such as video, text, graphics and sound. Multimedia is effective at capturing many types of learners, such as students who prefer visual or auditory learning. Some multimedia is interactive, meaning that the user's input affects the behavior of the program. SchoolForge lists many free multimedia programs for education, including video and audio editors, a 3D content creator, a screen and audio recording program, graphics editors, multimedia players and Internet TV platforms.
Students may benefit from tutorials, applications, instructional games and simulations, and problem-solving programs. Tutorial software, often multimedia, instructs through guided, sequential instruction, pre- and post-testing, and drill-and-practice sessions. Application software offers practical uses for students, such as word processing, database management, and school schedule maintenance. Games and simulations motivate and interest students who are learning new information or reviewing previously taught lesson. Simulations have an additional benefit of safety, allowing students to learn about procedures that might be dangerous to complete in a classroom setting. Problem-solving software emphasizes critical thinking and logic as students attempt to reason their way through problems and issues. The Internet hosts an abundance of Web-based e-learning programs that use "Web 2.0" technology, such as personal and professional blogs, social sites, note-taking applications, homework help and media-sharing services.
Teacher and Administrator Software
Teachers and administrators benefit from software applications as well, as they make use of attendance and grade book programs, spreadsheets, and accounting and scheduling software. Teachers may also employ presentation software in their instructional design and integrate programs to walk students though brainstorming activities as part of a lesson plan. Teachers and administrators may also make use of Web 2.0 programs designed to help with networking, research and organization.
Custom and System Software
School districts may hire a software company to design a program to meet specific needs. In this case, the company develops the custom software based on a district, school or classroom's particular computer system and the administration's requirements. Examples of custom software include student databases, state testing instruction and practice, math and grammar programs tailored toward specific deficiencies, and language practice for English language learners. System software is programmed to work in many situations and is not specific to a particular school. System software includes operating systems, taskbars, device drivers, security softare, programming language development software, and desktop and work environment programs.
Deanne Lachner has been writing and editing fiction and nonfiction for more than 15 years. She has published articles in "Working Women," "Performance Magazine" and the "Direct Selling News." Lachner holds a master's degree in English from Texas Woman's University and is pursuing a second master's degree in instructional design and technology.