Educational and Academic Software

Learning aides have come of age

Purchasing educational and academic software for your course or program can be a dicey affair. In the past few years, important strides forward have been made by educational software providers to give students and faculty rich, robust software with many features.

Some features that are now available are:
  • Exercises and quizzes that are self-grading.
  • Software that maintains all aspects of the grading so that students and professor can both see where they stand.
  • Software that is maintained off site, so that any problems are taken care of by offsite help (often the software makers).
  • Robust animations that can instruct and illustrate concepts for students and allow them to interact with the instructional materials (to review, for example).

The cost to your school, college or university is also minimal, as the expense of most of todays software is passed onto students who pay on a per-student basis.

An example of educational software today

Universities across the country have adapted the use of a grammar-teaching program called PH Words developed by Prentice Hall. The software teaches students all the essential elements of sentence structure, grammar, punctuation, paragraphs and essay writing (all the nitty-gritty that makes English professors grit their teeth, in fact). The software is relatively easy to use (not without some problems, of course), it grades itself with the need for very little monitoring on the part of professors or teacher assistants. The best thing about it is that it is sold to students on a per unit basis. In 2005, the cost was just under $20 per student, far less expensive than many textbooks.

What works for grammar can also work for mathematics and many other practical courses of study, where instruction and testing is straightforward for students and tedious for teachers and professors. If the students do have a problem that they do not understand, they can consult with the teacher individually.

Incidentally, the best software in this category and many others of software (for that matter) are really web services or web-based programs that are run off site, over the internet and handled at a central location. In the example of PH Words, all data is stored and directed from PH Words data centers. There is no software per se involved in this.

Education software is not with out its problems and need for caution. Read more about learning software and its problems.

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