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Principles of Software Evaluation
Software evaluation skills are essential for the active instructor. Limited budgets and the overwhelming number of educational software titles demand a structured approach to assessing the value of these tools for communicating and reinforcing learning. With the advent of the multimedia CD-ROM and now with the blossoming of interactive Web sites, the possibilities for technology-enhanced learning have never been greater. But instructors must choose wisely among these tools. This presentation offers guidelines for instructors who seek to integrate educational software into the learning environment.
With educational software, "content is king." No act of multimedia glitz can overcome a lack of core content. Information must be communicated clearly, in age-appropriate language. Ideas must be divided into small, logical modules for easy comprehension and long-term retention.
Consider the following questions when evaluating the content of educational software:
"The medium is the message." The organization of information - both logically and visually - can determine learner success. Educational software requires an attractive and consistent interface. Such an intuitive environment allows for easy navigation through ideas and avoids the "cognitive overload" of too much information presented too quickly.
Consider these questions when evaluating the presentation format of educational software:
Quality instructional software - if it successful bridges the gap between individual home use to effective group classroom use - should provide support materials for instructors. These helps range from simple suggestions for engaging learners to classroom handouts that prepare learners before using the software and reinforce learning afterward to physical manipulatives - "hands on" materials that enhance and extend technology-based learning.
Consider the following questions when evaluating support materials for educational software:
Training demands assessment. The best educational software tools provide learners with feedback about their performance. But care should be taken here. A clever game at the end of a training session might entertain students, but not provide instructors and parents with any meaningful evaluation of the student's learning.
Consider these questions when evaluating the assessment tools of educational software:
Practice software evaluation with this easy-to-use Web form.