EdTech 541: Week 4 Productivity Tools & Software Reflection

Instructional Software

Instructional software is one of many resources teachers can use to implement educational technology into the classroom.   Educational / Instructional software can be found in many formats: purchase hard copies, downloaded or used virtually.   The purpose of having software in the classrom is to help students learn content and/or skills on a variety of topics.   The term Relative Advantage was coined by Everett  Rogers and refers to “the benefits of a new metod (or resources) has over the old one ” (Roblyer, 2006, p.53).  There relative advantages for using software as instructional delivery is that it could be used as a supplemental resource for helping students master content.

Instructional Software for History /Social Studies in the classroom

Social studies software has many programs that have been designed specifically to aid int he instruction of social studies topics.  These program exhibit a wide range spectrum of capabilites, from providing historical inforrmation, to creating graphic organizers, timelines and maps.  There are many relative advantages of using instructional software for Social Studies in the classroom.  By teaching through technology, classroom teachers are introducing the lesson material in a way that will become much more impactful on the minds of the students.  Instructional software gives students some personal time to learn while “playing” and can be very motivational for them, especially if instructional software isn’t just used as a reward.  For example,  the visuals and graphics help to clarify concepts, takes away low-level labor (instruction on paper) and allows students to focus on high-level learning.  Project-based learning allows students to link class work to real-world problems and frees more time for teachers to give one-on-one attention to students.

Robyler notes there are six types of instructional software available: drill and practice, tutorials, simulations, educational games, applications, and problem solving.

Drill and Practice software allows students to work example items one at a time. This type of software will typically provide feedback to the student. However, the type of feedback does vary from program to program. Types include:

  • Flash card activities: student chooses and answer and      then the program gives feedback;
  • Branching drills: these are more sophisticated and the      next question is determined by whether the question at hand was answered      correctly or not;
  • Extensive feedback: students will receive feedback as      to why the answer was wrong, though this is sometimes mistaken for a      tutorial as the feedback can be very detailed.

Potential use for Drill and Kill is to supplement or to replace worksheets and homework exercises and/or prepare students for an upcoming test. Guidelines: There needs to be a limit set of somewhere between 10 to 15 minutes per day. Drill and Kill can be set-up as a working station for individual use. Relative advantage: Interactive, self-guided, self-paced, entertaining.

Educational Games Software: Technology based games link the world of gaming, entertainment and education, i.e. edutainment, together in ways that encourage both fun and learning. Instructional games provide the means for learning activities that have rules and can provide a sense of competition. The whole purpose is to keep students motivated and engaged while actually working on a curriculum topic. They can be used in place of worksheets and exercises, to be used in group work, and/or as a reward / competition. As Robyler stated, “Instructional games add game-like rules and/or competition to learning activities” (2010, p.84). Though be sure not to overuse this type of software and they should be aligned to curriculum lessons and state standards.  Relative advantage: Interactive, entertaining, reduces teacher preparation time.

Simulation software is either a computerized model of a real or imagined system that is designed to teach how a system works. When students use a simulation they must choose tasks and the order in which to complete them. There are two types of simulation:

  1. Those that teach about something:
    1. Physical simulations allow users to manipulate things or a process on the screen;
    2. Iterative simulations where processes can be sped up or slowed down so the user can watch the events unfold.
    3. Those that teach how to do something.
      1. Procedural simulation which teach a sequence of steps to perform certain procedures;
      2. Situational simulations provide users with hypothetical problems or situations that they can react to.

Simulations can be used in place of or a supplement to lab experiments, role playing or even a field trip. They can be used to introduce or clarify a topic, foster exploration and process learning and can be used as individual or group work. Robyler explains that a good software simulation will provide a “clear set of direction” and most important “students [will be able] to use it rapidly and easily” (2010, p.91). Relative advantage: Interactive, self-guided, self-paced, entertaining reduces teacher preparation time.

Tutorial Software is an instructional sequence on a topic that is similar to what the teacher instruction is in the classroom. Tutorials are mean to be used as a self-contained supplemental instructional resource.

  • Linear tutorials give the same instruction sequence of      explanation, practice and feedback to all learners
  • Branching Tutorial: provides more sophisticated      instructions that direct learners on their own personal path depending on      how they respond to the question right or wrong.

The benefits include user control, appropriate pedagogy, and adequate feedback adjusting to user responses and have record keeping. Relative advantage: Interactive, entertaining, self-guided, self-paced.


Roblyer, M. D., & Doering, A. H. (2010). Integrating educational technology into teaching (5th ed.). Boston: Allyn and Bacon.

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