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ED-u-rateEducators Review EasyTech

Recently, Education World reviewers checked out EasyTech, an online program that merges technology training and instruction in core curricular areas. The reviewers used EasyTech in actual classroom situations, rated it on a scale of 1-4, and shared their thoughts about the program's strengths and weaknesses. Read what they had to say! Included: Comments about how EasyTech fared in actual classroom situations.

EasyTech by Learning.com is an online program that merges technology training and instruction in core curricular areas. The program's technology integration curriculum includes activities, lessons, practices, and discussions designed to allow K-8 educators to integrate technology into such subject areas as language arts, math, science, and social studies. According to Learning.com, the technology instruction aligns with ISTE's National Educational Technology Standards and reinforces national math and language arts standards.

Other features of EasyTech include a management system that enables educators to manage classes, assign appropriate lessons, and track student progress; and a staff development and support program that provides instructional tools, strategies, hands-on workshops, and ongoing training and support to facilitate classroom technology integration.

Recently, Education World asked our reviewers, all teachers or educational technology specialists, to check out EasyTech in actual classroom situations. Reviewers were asked to use EasyTech for a period of at least one month, note specific strengths, weaknesses, and/or quirks of the program, record personal observations -- both positive and negative -- and rate various qualities of the software on a scale of 1-4.

The results are in -- and this is what our reviewers had to say!

Click here to see educators' reviews of other products including Kidspiration, Timeliner, Graph Master, Adobe Photoshop, NetSupport School, NetOpSchool, and more!

OVERALL COMMENTS

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I love this program! I think it would be especially useful for small schools that do not have a computer teacher or technology integration specialist. The program would provide teachers with the knowledge, skills, and ideas they need to incorporate technology into their curriculum.

We recently created grade level benchmarks for our students in grades K-6. Had we had the EasyTech program at the time, we might have simply followed their plan; it addresses all our technology standards for each grade level.

The colors of the interface were calm and soothing, not garish design styles that distract from the content. Quite pleasing to the eye. The motivational animation on completion of certain tasks and the printable certificate seemed to drive the kids to success. My students loved printing out their certificates, coloring them, and hanging them on the wall.

I successfully used this product with students from grades 4-7 in a number of ways. Some used it independently, logging in on daily basis and working through the lessons as I had laid them out. With another group, I used EasyTech to support lessons I taught. After teaching my lesson, I had the students work on a specific EasyTech lesson that supported the concept I had just introduced. In another group, I assigned specific lessons to cover gaps in their learning. Also, students who will be in my class next year were assigned lessons and activities to "catch them up" to the class they'll be joining. I hoped that when they did come into my room, they would be at a level playing field with my students.

Prior to the last two years, I worked coordinating inservice for our district. This product would have been an excellent tool to allow teachers to improve their own competency in using technology. Although the animations and graphics are student focused, I think teachers would be comfortable using the material as well.

Overall, this product is excellent. I will be passing along my recommendation to my colleagues.

I think this program is excellent, and I would highly recommend it to my colleagues. Although I concentrated on using it in first grade, I briefly visited the other grade level lessons and I feel the program would definitely enhance a school's technology curriculum at any grade level. The fact that it is aligned with both technology and core-content standards is a real plus!

Online Teacher's Guide
EasyTech's resources section provided a wealth of information about the program's hardware and software requirements, as well as tips on how to manage a technology-based classroom and how to integrate technology into the core curriculum. The section also provided some ready-made forms a teacher would need as the program is being implemented. It had excellent scope and sequence guides for the various grade levels. I feel that one of the strengths of this program is in the clarity of its written instructions.

I was able to access -- via Adobe Acrobat -- the Grade-by-Grade Guide for my grade level. (It was slow opening in Adobe Acrobat. I would have preferred to access it via the Internet.) That guide had information and all the lessons and activities for my grade level. A teacher could print the guide, put it in a notebook, and use it for future reference. The curriculum list at the beginning of the guide was well organized. Finding an activity was easy, as they were grouped by application. It would have been even better if a page number and the same icons that were used in the curriculum area on the Web site to identify the type of activity had been included. Some suggestions to make the guide more teacher-friendly are:

  • Provide links to each area in the curriculum list.
  • Provide links to the student lessons.
  • Provide the option to print handouts from the Internet.

The teacher support screens are well designed and easy to read. The white and green color scheme is simple but effective -- it's pleasing to the eye. The minimal use of graphics is good, because a teacher is drawn to the text rather than a graphic, which in this section is most important. I particularly liked the option that allowed teachers to return to the Teacher Home Page at any time by simply clicking the EasyTech logo. The question mark icon in the upper right corner of the screen is another feature I liked. All a teacher has to do is click the question mark and help for the current page appears at the top of the page. When the teacher is finished, all he or she has to do is click the question mark again to return to the current page.

The lesson pages found on the teacher home page were excellent. The information on those pages is well organized. Teachers could access the information by clicking a tab. In the Details section, the teacher is given a brief overview of the lesson, the application tool being used, the amount of time required to complete the lesson, and the lesson's learning objectives. In the Standards section, the teacher is given both technology and content area standards that align with the lesson learning objectives. In the Teacher Note section, the teacher is given some helpful hints. The teacher also is given options to preview a lesson, to add a lesson to the assignment list, or to remove a lesson from the assignment list. All that's required to complete those tasks is a click on a button. The feature I liked best is that the teacher is given multiple ways to search for lessons: by grade, subject, type, tool, or standard. All those features help make this program teacher-friendly.

A fantastic program! I liked the Curriculum Position paper at the beginning of each grade level skills. I think it will be very helpful for administrators, teachers, and parents to have that info. Also, the Scope and Sequence was outstanding.

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USABILITY COMMENTS

I found the instructions to be extremely easy to follow, and I especially liked the screen shots for teachers who are hesitant to use technology. I also found the letter to the family a helpful tool that teachers would definitely use.

The implementation instructions were clear and concise. The extra tips -- on how to organize classes and so on -- also were helpful.

Some teachers might need some coaching to get their skills where they need to be to use this program.

Computer skills targeted at students were excellent. They were targeted to the correct grade level and were very precise. My teachers raved about those and about the lesson guides.

Clear instructions, good FAQ for common tasks and questions. The level of the activities was age appropriate, screens were clean and orderly. Large icons and great content!

This program was very easy to set up. All directions were clear. I liked the option that allowed the teacher to determine if his or her computer was properly configured to run the EasyTech program. I also liked that links for both Macintosh and Windows were provided. Those links allow the teacher to quickly update his or her existing software or to download new software. The links were located in the support area and were easily identified as Downloads and Software. A teacher would have no problem downloading software, as all that was required was a click on the program's icon.

The computer skills for students were appropriate. If a teacher follows the suggested order, students will build the skills necessary to move through the program. The computer skills a teacher would require to use the program with students also were appropriate. I believe the majority of teachers would encounter no problems, as this program is definitely teacher-friendly.

The lesson screens were awesome. The screens were very bright and colorful and had lots of animations that would help hold a student's interest. I liked that students could click an X and exit the program at any time. I also liked that there was a rewind feature so the student could go back to the beginning.

The lesson content was grad-level appropriate. The order of the lessons was excellent. I really liked the way the keyboard was presented for first graders. Not only do the students get practice locating letters on the keyboard, they also get to hear the sound the letter makes and see and hear a word that has the letter and its sound. That will accommodate the different types of learners found in the first grade classroom. The only suggestion I have for the keyboard lessons is that different words and graphics be used in the practice portion. The follow up activities were good; they allowed the student to apply the skill that had been learned in the lesson to activities based on core curriculum standards. I liked that everything the teacher needs is provided in one location: the handouts, a model of the finished product, and as well as a rubric that included both student and teacher evaluation components.

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PERFORMANCE COMMENTS

Everything worked like a charm! This program was well tested and all the bugs were worked out.

Video and sound are clear and accurate -- especially helpful for students.

We were running this on PII 266 machines with 192mb of RAM and they were a little underpowered for the task. Network congestion (although on a T1 network) sometimes also caused performance problems. Although at times the audio was a little jerky, the program was for the most part quite useable.

Other than local hardware and network issue, the site worked flawlessly. Audio direction added an easy way for non-readers to participate. We have an ESL student from Japan and he was able to follow along quite well. The graphic animations are clear and well designed.

I did not encounter any bugs, nor did I find any errors. The lesson programs loaded quickly. The only frustration I had was in the speed of some of the animations, especially those from the keyboard lessons. The video and sound were very clear and accurate. For this most part, navigation was intuitive and reliable. The use of consistent icons throughout the program was helpful.

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USEFULNESS COMMENTS

I don't think the program will save teachers time during the first few months of use, but once they get used to the program, it will be a significant time saver. Everything a teacher could want is there. The program is awesome and will be a godsend to many teachers who already have their days filled with too many things to cover.

This program certainly will extend student learning, especially for those who have a computer with Internet access at home. EasyTech would be beneficial for everyone in the family. I found the lessons to be relevant and focused on real-world issues or in occupational settings that give students a sense of how technology is applied to real experiences.

The program held everyone's attention -- from the teachers I train to my 7-year-old son -- and will meet the needs of all the students. Using EasyTech, students are able to work at a pace comfortable for them, while the teacher can monitor their progress. The immediate feedback to students regarding their success or need for further effort was great.

Lessons are interactive and students are eager to move through them. I used some sections to introduce a concept or topic to the whole class at once. I also used it get the class working at the same point.

The primary strength of this program is that it seamlessly integrates technology into the core curriculum. The learning objectives meet the ISTE's National Educational Technology Standards (NETS) for Students as well as core curriculum standards. The lessons and activities help build the students' computer skills in the context the of content areas. The multiple methods of lesson presentation will appeal to all learning styles. The lessons are fast paced, interactive, and provide the student a lot of opportunities to practice age appropriate computer skills. Students are able to work at their own pace, as the program allows them to complete tasks, to repeat scenes, or to retake lessons. When students complete a task, they are given immediate feedback. If the student gives an incorrect response, the student is given a hint and a chance to try again. The integration activities allow teachers to extend technology skills learned in the computer lab into the classroom. Everything that is needed for these lessons is provided. This is a plus, as it will save the teacher valuable time.

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SUPPORT COMMENTS

The training materials were awesome!

The questions I had were answered promptly by technical support.

I did not require any technical support, which speaks volumes to the ease of using this product. The one time I did need support to get individual IDs, I had a fax with confirmation within an hour. The PDF documents on "common tasks", "best practices" and other support materials are clear and easy to follow, providing the teacher with incredible support. The scope and sequence documents provide clear directions and a great overview of the entire curriculum.

Training materials are available on the EasyTech Web site. The materials include detailed instructions on all aspects of using the program and are easily accessed. Workshops also are provided for a fee. That may be prohibitive to many schools; districts do not have enough money in their budgets for that type of technology training. Technical support is readily available, however. Free unlimited phone and e-mail support also is available. Help is always available on line and can be accessed by a click on the question mark found on every page.

The support area had information that the teacher could use as the program was being implemented or if any problems arose. The teacher was given a number of ways to contact the support staff; phone, fax and email. It would be helpful to put a menu box for support topics under the e-mail address box. A teacher then could click "Recommendations for the System," "Bugs Encountered," "Lesson Criticisms or Compliments," "Technical Difficulties," or "Suggestions for New Lessons," for example, which would help identify and group messages.

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04/21/2004