Are you looking for the best software to use in your classroom? Are you stymied by the number of choices available? Are you having trouble distinguishing between great software and great marketing? The members of the Education World Tech Team reveal their picks for the best software programs for classroom use. Included: A chance to add your comments and/or recommendations to a list of the Best Software in the Education World!
Each year, school districts require teachers to integrate technology into the curriculum in more substantial ways. As a result, many teachers suddenly find themselves in immediate need of software programs that are both educationally valuable and instructionally appropriate. The search for such software can be a daunting task for teachers who have limited technology experience. Even tech-savvy educators may find themselves overwhelmed by the number and variety of available choices.
In addition, software is often expensive, and mistakes can be costly. How do you know -- without actually purchasing a particular piece of software -- whether you're looking at a great program or great marketing?
We asked the Ed World Tech Team!
Tech Team members rated each program they were familiar with on a scale of 0 to 5, with 5 being the top score. Ed World totaled, averaged, and rounded the scores. The final ratings are displayed in a comparison chart provided for each software category.
As you look at the numerical ratings in the software comparison charts, keep in mind that the number of times each program was rated was determined by the number of Tech Team members who were familiar with that program. Some well-known programs, for example, were rated by eight to ten reviewers, and a few less well-known or newer programs were rated by a single reviewer. (We've indicated with an asterisk those programs rated by a single reviewer.) So the final scores, although mathematically accurate, are not necessarily statistically correct. They are, however, based on our experts' opinions and, therefore, provide an excellent starting point to help you evaluate individual software programs and choose the one that best meets your own needs.
Of course, the more times each software program is rated, the more statistically reliable our ratings will become. We hope you'll contribute to the ratings' reliability by providing your own scores, using the same criteria and the same 0 to 5 scale our experts used!
Add Your Vote!Finally, we've awarded a Gold Star to the software program we judged to be the most highly recommended in each category. Gold star winners were determined by considering each program's total score along with the number of recommendations submitted for the program and the tenor of reviewers' comments about it.
If you would like to add your rating to theirs, or if you want to rate and review another software program's suitability for classroom use, e-mail me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Technology coordinator Jennifer Wagner, for example, provided a summary of her top picks across categories, telling Education World, "If I could pick only two pieces of software, I would pick -- without hesitation -- Microsoft Office Premium Version and Kid Pix Deluxe. I could teach the entire year with these programs and be 100 percent content.
"If I could add five more," Wagner continued, "I'd choose Inspiration Software because it's fun to use, Where in the U.S.A. Is Carmen San Diego? because kids learn while playing, Creative Writer 2 because it makes word processing so much fun, Encarta Reference Library because everyone needs an encyclopedia on disk, and Zoombinis Logical Journey because the zoombinis are so cute!"
School Webmaster Fred Holmes also added his tips for choosing quality classroom software. "When selecting software," Holmes noted, "the main things teachers need to look for are ease of loading, ease of use, and clarity of instruction. Ask around and see what other teachers are using, talk to area businesses and see what they use. (Remember, you are training future employees for some of them.) But mainly find a program that does what you want and makes you feel comfortable."
Article by Linda Starr
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