Sunday, March 2, 2008

Software for Learning

Stephen (Sunnybrae Normal) and I sat down with other teachers and advisers last week to explore Software for Learning on TKI. While there are a wealth of great sources for software support and information on the web, Software for Learning enables teachers who are purchasing software to source comparative pricing and support within New Zealand.If you are considering buying software or working on your school’s software budget it is recommended that you check the pricing as listed on the Software for Learning site before you buy. I want to stress this as I am still receiving reports of schools who are purchasing from retail and paying more than they might if they accessed pricing through the Software for Learning site. Also check out the Snapshots of learning where screen shots from software (both freeware and non-freeware) are used to illustrate how the software has been used in learning sessions in New Zealand schools.

If you have any feedback, contributions or suggestions for improving the site please contact Sarah Jones from the elearning unit at the Ministry of Education.

Also recommended:
Directory of Learning Tools compiled by Jane Hart

Educational Software compiled by Suzie Vesper


artichoke said...

It has always interested me that we do not have a similarly funded division in the MoE set up for "Textbooks for Learning" Fiona.

I have my theories about the absence of a "Textbooks for Learning" division - I would be fascinated to read your ideas on this ..

Fiona Grant said...

Interesting to think about the possibilities here Arti, especially around use of print resources and also the increase in digital texts. Many of the print text resources supplied to schools by Learning Media especially in Literacy, Mathematics and Science offer a range of topics and strategies for use in the classroom. Some of my favourites include the electronic storybooks that are sent out free to schools and contain illustrated texts with audio, a glossary, and activities. The texts have been adapted from print series such as the School Journal, the School Journal Story Library, and the Journal of Young People's Writing. They also come with excellent teacher support material. See here for details and ordering.
Maybe we should also be exploring how these texts are being used by teachers and encourage Learning Media/TKI to include similar examples and support to the “Snapshots of Learning” on Software for Learning. This might also raise the profile of some of these text resources and their value as they are often under utilised in schools, sitting on a shelf gathering dust or hidden in some ones draw.

However there is also the issue of moving from hardcopy textbooks to eBook.
Maybe a slightly different comparison as software can function differently in terms of creating, presenting, communicating etc but again will impact on the way we work.

When pricing, ease of access and convenience become a driving factor it may be difficult for publishers to ignore demand for textbooks in digital format. How this will impact teaching and learning may be dependent more on how and why we are using digital vs print. Again having opportunities to explore how others are working and the impact on student learning would be valuable.
Personally I enjoy the convenience of accessing digital text and the ability to search quickly, compare and take notes but at the same time printed text especially when studying diagrams and tables for me is more suitable (you know…. R.T.F.M.)
The printing press revolutionised access to information and digital communication is doing the same. If digital text is also going to improve equity of access to an audience that may otherwise not have access to printed text because of situation and circumstance that’s good. But I guess it can also suffer the same fate as printed text when individuals or groups want to censor information although a little more difficult on the Internet.
It is fascinating and your question has definitely got me thinking…thanks ;-)