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Chapter 4:

INTEGRATING INSTRUCTIONAL
SOFTWARE INTO TEACHING AND
LEARNING

Educational/Instructional software
was first used as a tutoring tool for
students in the 60s and 70s, but
over the past 30 years, it has
evolved
into
software
that
incorporates some or all of the five
functions for helping students learn
including drill and practice, tutorial,
simulation, games, and problem
solving.

Educational software is valuable to all ages


of students for many reasons including making
learning more fun, motivating students,
helping with long-term memory of the
material, and providing a thorough educational
experience that incorporates many proven
learning concepts into the curriculum.
Educational software is best used to augment
classroom curriculums, but in most cases,
should not be the only instructional method for
learning.

Educational software no longer is


thought to be a replacement for
teachers, but a tool that helps
teachers do a better job of teaching
their students. There are literally
thousands of educational software
packages that provide learning tools
for all subject areas.

INSTRUCTIONAL
SOFTWARE
Programs developed
for the sole purpose
of delivering
instruction or
supporting learning
activities

Some educational software is designed for


use in school classrooms. Typically such
software may be projected onto a large
whiteboard at the front of the class and/or run
simultaneously on a network of desktop
computers in a classroom. This type of
software
is
often
calledclassroom
management software. While teachers often
choose to use educational software from other
categories in theirIT suites (e.g. reference
works, childrens software).

Instructional Software
Classifications
Drill & Practice
Tutorial
Simulation
Instructional Games
Problem-Solving
ILS: Combination of Above

DRILL AND PRACTICE


Drill and Practice software allows learners to work
problems or answer questions and receive feedback
on their correctness. Programs may vary on the type
of feedback provided in conjunction with the learner's
input.
Drill-and-practice software provides exercises in
which students work example items, usually one at a
time, and receive feedback on their correctness.
Programs vary considerably in the kind of feedback
they provide in response to student input.

DRILL AND PRACTICE


Three criteria for well-designed programs

Control over
presentation

Appropriate feedback

Answer reinforcement

DRILL AND PRACTICE


Three benefits compared to paper exercises

Immediate
feedback
Motivational
Saves teacher time

Educational software that incorporates


the concepts of drills and practice is
similar to flash cards, but with more
features. Software that uses drills to
enhance learning uses repetition to help
students
learn
the
material.
For
example, math software will repeat the
same types of math problems over and
over in order for students to log the
types of problems into long-term
memory.

Drills and practice are a form of objectivist learning


and is excellent for students to prepare for tests and/or
learn concepts that are simple or even sometimes
complicated, but require memorization of the material.
Some of the drills and practice software are also
intuitive since it might track the student's progress and
continue to display questions until student's answer the
questions correctly a given number of times before
moving on to the next type of question, or a more
difficult problem type. This is called branching. The
software "knows" when a student has mastered a given
problem type, and also knows when the student has
not. Many of the educational software uses drills and
practice along with one or more of the other five types
of educational software.

Immediate Feedback
When students practice skills on paper,
they frequently do not know until much
later whether or not they did their work
correctly. To quote a common saying,
Practice does not make perfect; practice
makes permanent. As they complete
work incorrectly, software activities,
sometimes informally referred to among
its critics as drill and kill.

Motivation
Many students refuse to do the practice they
need on paper, either because they have failed
so much that the whole idea is abhorrent, they
have poor handwriting skills, or they simply
dislike writing. In these cases, computer-based
practice may motivate students to do the
practice they need. Computers dont get
impatient or give disgusted looks when a
student gives a wrong answer.

Saving Teacher Time


Since teachers do not have to present
or grade drill and practice, students can
practice on their own while the teacher
addresses other student needs. The
curriculum has dozens of areas in which
the benefits of drill and practice apply.

Using Drill and Practice in Teaching

To supplement or
replace worksheets
To assist in preparing
for objective tests

DRILL AND PRACTICE


Some guidelines for using drill & practice

Set time limits


Assign individually
Use learning
stations

Supplement or replace worksheets


and homework
exercises
Whenever students have difficulty with higher order
tasks ranging from reading and writing to
mathematics, teachers may have to stop and identify
specific prerequisite skills that these students lack and
provide the instruction and practice they need to go
forward. In these cases, learning may require a
rehearsal activity to make sure information is stored in
long-term memory so students can retrieve it easily.
Drills motivation, immediate feedback, and self-pacing
can make it more productive for students to practice
required skills on the computer than on paper.

Prepare for test


Despite the new emphasis on student
portfolios and other authentic assessment
measures, students can expect to take several
kinds of objective examinations in their
education careers. When they need to prepare
to demonstrate mastery of specific skills in
important examinations (e.g., for end-of-year
grades or for college entrance), drill-andpractice software can help them focus on their
deficiencies and correct them.

TUTORIALS

Four criteria for well-designed programs

Extensive interaction
Thorough user control
Appropriate &
comprehensive
sequencing
Adequate answerjudging & feedback

Tutorials are different from drill


and practice software in that
tutorials should be designed as a
complete instructional program for a
given topic. Students who complete
tutorials should learn everything
about the subject that might
otherwise be taught in a classroom
by a teacher.

Tutorials are sometimes mistaken for


drills
because
drills
are
often
incorporated into the tutorial to test the
student's knowledge after a sequence of
instructions. Tutorials, like drills, often
use branching by allowing students to
move to the next topic after mastering a
section, or keep the student in the
current section if they have not mastered
the material.

Tutorials
are
more
objectivist
than
constructivist learning since students have
little or no input into what is taught. Tutorials
are difficult and expensive to develop, which
explain why developers choose tutorials less
than other types of educational software to
develop. Tutorials should use a comprehensive
approach to instruction and simulate a real
classroom experience to teach students the
entire learning goals of a subject.

Extensive Interactions
Good tutorials, like good teachers,
should require students to give
frequent and thoughtful responses
to questions and problems and
should supply appropriate practice
and feedback to guide students
learning.

Thorough user control


User control refers to several aspects
of a tutorial program. First, students
should always be able to control the rate
at which text appears on the screen. The
program should not go on to the next
information or activity screen until the
user has pressed a key or has given
some
other
indication
of
having
completed the necessary reading.

Appropriate & comprehensive sequencing

The programs structure should provide


a suggested or required sequence of
instruction that builds on concepts and
covers the content adequately. It should
provide
sufficient
explanation
and
examples in both original and remedial
sequences.

Adequate answer-judging &


feedback
Programs
should
allow
students to answer in natural
language and should accept all
correct answers and possible
variations of correct answers.

Using Tutorials in Teaching


Self-paced reviews
Alternative learning
strategies
Instruction when
teachers are not
available

Self-paced reviews of instruction


Students often need to repeat instruction on
a topic after the teachers initial presentation.
Some students may be slower to understand
concepts and need to spend additional time on
them. Others may learn better in a self-paced
mode without the pressure to move at the
same pace as the rest of the class. Still others
may need a review before a test. Tutorials can
provide self-paced instruction to address all
these needs.

Alternative learning strategies


Some students, typically those at
advanced levels, prefer to structure their
own learning activities and proceed at
their own pace. With a good tutorial,
advanced students can glean much
background material prior to meeting
with a teacher or others to do
assessment
and/or
further
work

Instruction when teachers are


unavailable

Some students have problems


when they surge ahead of their
class. The teacher cannot leave
the rest of the class to provide
the instruction that such an
advanced student.

SIMULATIONS
Four types of simulations

Physical
Iterative
Procedural
Situational

Simulations
A simulation is a computerized model
of a real or imagined system that is
designed to teach how the system works.
Unlike tutorial and drill-and-practice
activities, in which the teaching structure
is built into the package, learners using
simulations usually must choose tasks to
do and the order in which to do them.

There are three types of simulation


software. First, physical simulation allows
students to manipulate objects to help them
learn about completing a task. Second,
iterative simulations speed up or slow down a
process to the help the student understand it
better. Third, procedural simulations teach
students steps of a process by providing them
with visual models. Fourth, situational
simulations teach students how to handle
certain situations such as how to operate a
business.

Physical Simulations
These simulations allow users to
manipulate
things
or
processes
represented on the screen. For example,
students might see selections of
chemicals with instructions on how to
combine them to see the result.

Interactive Simulation
These simulations speed up or
slow down processes that usually
happen either so slowly or so
quickly that students cannot see
the events unfold.

Procedural Simulations
These activities teach the appropriate
sequences of steps to perform certain
procedures. They include diagnostic
programs, in which students try to
identify the sources of medical or
mechanical
problems,
and
flight
simulators, in which students simulate
piloting an airplane or other vehicle.

Situational Simulations
These programs give students
hypothetical problem situations and
ask them to react. Some simulations
allow
for
various
successful
strategies, such as letting students
play the stock market or operate
businesses.

SIMULATIONS
Benefits of using simulations

Compress time
Slow down processes
Get students involved
Make
experimentation safe

Compress Time
This feature is important whenever students
study the growth or development of living
things (e.g., pairing animals to observe the
characteristics of their offspring) or other
processes that take a long time (e.g., the
movement of a glacier). A simulation can
make something happen in seconds that
normally takes days, months, or longer, so that
students can cover more variations of the
activity in a shorter time.

Slow down Processes


Conversely, a simulation can
also model processes normally
invisible to the human eye
because they happen so quickly.

Get Students Involved


Simulations can capture students
attention by placing them in charge
of things and asking, What would
you do? The results of their choices
can be immediate and graphic.
Users can also interact with the
program instead of just seeing its
output.

Make Experimentation Safe


Whenever learning involves physical
danger, simulations are the strategy of
choice. This is true when students are
learning to drive vehicles, handle volatile
substances, or react to potentially
dangerous
situations.
They
can
experiment with strategies in simulated
environments that might result in
personal injury to themselves or others

SIMULATIONS
Additional benefits of using simulations

Make the
impossible
possible
Save resources
Repeat with
variations
Make situations
controllable

Make the impossible possible


Very often, teachers simply
cannot give students access
to the resources or situations
that simulations can.

Save Resources
Many school systems are finding
dissections
of
animals
on
a
computer screen to be much less
expensive and just as instructional
as using real frogs or cats.

Repeat Variations
Unlike in real life, simulations let
students repeat events as many
times as they wish and with
unlimited variations. They can pair
any number of cats or make endless
spaceship landings in a variety of
conditions to compare the results of
each set of choices.

Make Situations Controllable


Real-life events often are so
complex that they are confusing
especially to those seeing them for
the first time. When many things
happen at once, students find it
difficult to focus on the operation of
individual components.

SIMULATION

Ways to use simulations

Lab experiments
Replacement or supplement to role
playing
Replacement or supplement to field
trips
Introducing a new topic
Fostering exploration
Encouraging cooperation & group work

Lab Experiments
When adequate lab materials are not
available, teachers should try to locate
computer
simulations
of
the
required
experiments.
Many
teachers
find
that
simulations offer effective supplements to real
labs, either to prepare students for making
good use of the actual labs or as follow-ups
with variations of the original experiments
without using consumable materials.

Replacement or supplement to role playing

Many students either refuse to role


play in front of a class or get too
enthusiastic and disrupt the classroom.
Computerized simulations can take the
personal embarrassment and logistical
problems out of the learning experience,
make classroom role playing more
controllable,
and
spark
students
imagination and interest in the activities.

Replacement or supplement to field trips

Seeing an activity in its real setting


can be a valuable experience, especially
for young children. Sometimes, however,
desired locations are not within reach of
the school, and a simulated experience
of all or part of the process is the next
best thing.

Introducing a new topic

Software that allows students


to explore the elements of an
environment in a hands-on
manner
frequently
provides
students first in-depth contact
with a topic. This seems to
accomplish several purposes.

Fostering exploration
Teachers
often
use
content-free
simulation/problem
solving
software
(e.g., The Factory) as motivation for
students to explore their own cognitive
processes. Since this kind of software
requires students to learn no specific
content, it is easier to get them to
concentrate on problem-solving steps

Encouraging cooperation & group work

Sometimes
a
simulated
demonstration
can
capture
students attention quickly and
effectively and interest them in
working together on a product.

INSTRUCTIONAL GAMES
Game Characteristics

Game rules
Elements of
competition &
challenge
Amusing or
entertaining
formats

Instructional
Game
Softwareare usually used as
rewards or to reinforce a skill.
After students have learned a
skill, the best way to test
their knowledge is through
letting them play games.

Some educators frown upon games because


some games have an element of violence and
discriminate against students who do not excel
in games. Plus, the educational benefit for
games is sometimes difficult to predict. Games
incorporate drills and practice, and simulation,
but differ because of the rules and format.
Games
provide
a
stimulating
learning
environment if used effectively, and allow
students to learn while enjoying the activity.

INSTRUCTIONAL GAMES
Three ways to use games

In place of worksheets and


exercises
To foster cooperation and
group work
As a reward

In place of Worksheets and


Exercises
As with drill and-practice
software, teachers can use
games to help students
acquire automatic recall of
prerequisite skills.

To foster cooperation and group


work

Like
simulations,
many
instructional games serve as the
basis for or introduction to group
work. In addition, some games
can be played collaboratively
over the internet.

As a reward
Most common use of games is
to reward good work. This may
be a valid role
for instructional software, but
teachers should avoid overuse
of it.

PROBLEM SOLVING
Two views on fostering problem solving

As component
skills that can be
taught
Inquiry approach

Problem solving software helps students learn


a sequence of events that leads to the solution,
and is often included in math and science
educational software packages. Problem solving
software is motivational and improves the interest
of the subject for students, but it is often difficult
to measure its effectiveness and can sometimes
frustrate students who have difficulties reaching
the final solution. Problem solving software can
provide both an objectivist or constructivist
environment depending on the software's
activities and approach to learning.

PROBLEM SOLVING
Two types of courseware

Specific to
content area
General
content-free
skills

Specific content area


Some
problem-solving
software focuses on teaching
content-area skills, primarily
in mathematics and science.

General content free skills


Some educators feel that general
problem-solving ability can be
taught
directly
by
specific
instruction and practice in its
component strategies and sub skills

PROBLEM SOLVING
Benefits of using problem solving

Motivates students
to solve problems
To teach component skills
in problem-solving
strategies

Motivates students to solve


problems
Some software packages are
specifically designed to scaffold
students as they practice solving
complex problems.

To teach component skills in problem-solving


strategies

Many problem-solving packages provide


good, hands-on experience with one or more of
the skills required to use a problem-solving
approach. These include identifying and
following a logical sequence, identifying
relevant information to solve problems, not
jumping to conclusions too quickly, and
remembering relevant information.

Integrated Learning
Systems
Components

Courseware
Management
System

Integrated learning systems (ILSs) are


systems that offer computer- based instruction
and other resources to support instruction,
along with summary reports of student
progress through the instruction; all are
provided through networked or online sources.
The most powerful and the most expensive of
available instructional software products, ILSs
were introduced in the early 1970s and, until
recently, were delivered via computer network
from a central computer (server), usually
located in the school.

Integrated Learning Systems


ILS Characteristics
Lessons tied to
specified instructional
objectives
Lessons integrated
into the standard
curriculum

Integrated Learning Systems


ILS Characteristics
Comprehensive
courseware spans several
grade levels
Student performance
management system

Integrated Learning Systems


Three ways to use ILS

Remediation
Mainstream
delivery system
Rich resource
environments

Remediation
Even when new funding and the motivation
to use ILSs are present, schools must
determine how ILS functions coordinate with
and complement those of the classroom
teacher. ILS uses serve target populations that
have typically presented the most difficult
problems for traditional classroom activities

Mainstream delivery system


ILS only as a backup system to
address educational problems, a
school may let an ILS do the initial
job of teaching whole courses for all
students in a grade level. In light of
the expense of ILSs, this type of use
is more rare.

Courseware Evaluation
Recommended Sequence

Begin with an identified need


Locate titles
Complete hands-on reviews
Collect student reviews

Courseware Evaluation
Criteria

Instructional Design & Pedagogical


Soundness
Content
User Flexibility
Technical Soundness