Software Selectionfor Instruction Considerations for Designing Computer-Based Activities
Module Overview • Considerations for Designing Computer-Based Activities • Environmental Considerations • Audience Considerations • Heuristics or “Rules of Thumb” • Software Selection & Evaluation
Environmental Considerations • When designing computer-based activities, it is necessary to consider the classroom or laboratory where students will work on these activities. • Are appropriate and accessible tools and resources available for every student? • Will students have an opportunity to complete the activities in a reasonable time-frame?
Environmental Considerations • When designing computer-based activities, it is necessary to consider the classroom or laboratory where students will work on these activities. • Are activities a way to focus on learning objectives? • Do the activities permit students to develop their own knowledge and practice in an interactive fashion?
Environmental Considerations • Computer-based activities should have: • Visual appeal. • Rich and applicable content. • Locus-of-control for user interaction. • Color and graphics appropriately applied. Review this Software Evaluation Matrix that includes visual impact. Others can be found in Resources.
Environmental Considerations • Computer-based activities should have: • Good feedback. • Open-ended formats. • Interactive designs. • Meaningful and interesting content. • Strong connections to the curriculum.
Audience Considerations • Computer-based activities should: • Be appropriate for the learner. • Match the learner’s reading and comprehension level. • Match the learner’s level of dexterity, and general skill using the input medium. • Be based on sound pedagogy and learning theory. Read about Selecting Developmentally Appropriate Software.
Audience Considerations • Computer-based activities should: • Use computerized tools and resources effectively. • Maximize learner involvement. • Be clearly organized with well-defined objectives, outcomes and expectations. Learn more about Choosing Appropriate Classroom Computer Software.
Audience Considerations • Computer-based activities should: • Use metaphors when possible. • Help the learner establish mental models of the main concepts. • Be well-organized with thoughtful content.
Heuristics for Buying Software Hints • Ask around. • Try a demonstration copy. • Investigate the return policy. • Know the hardware requirements. • Get more information. More hints are in the article Choosing School Softwareand other links in Resources.
Heuristics for Installing Software Hints • Read the “Read Me First” file. • Read Manuals. • Use Installation Disks. • Start the Installation Program. (CD-ROM – sometimes automatically) • Follow the On-screen Prompts. • Select Options. • WAIT - Copying. Get more help from Tips for Installing Software.
Reasons for Obtaining Updated Versions of Software • Updates correct mistakes. • Updates provide new features. • Updates should be purchased when software modifications are essential.
Questions to Consider • Do you need to update? • Will you use the new features? • Will you have difficulty exchanging documents between other versions? • Is your software compatible with other software in your classroom or school?
Heuristics for Learning New Software • Make sure you have time to devote to learning the package.
Heuristics for Learning New Software • Make sure you have time to devote to learning the package. • Look for tutorials or self-guided instructional material to assist you in learning the package.
Heuristics for Learning New Software • Make sure you have time to devote to learning the package. • Look for tutorials or self-guided instructional material to assist you in learning the package. • Play with the software. Use those basic commands!
Heuristics for Learning New Software • Make sure you have time to devote to learning the package. • Look for tutorials or self-guided instructional material to assist you in learning the package. • Play with the software. Use those basic commands! • Take organized classes, either credit or non-credit.
Heuristics for Learning New Software • Review the manual. • Get some reference material for additional information. • Try different features and record your results. • Take the time. Read hints for using the menu bar in Learning New Software.
Computer-Based Activities and Evaluation • Confirmation of Decisions • Lesson Improvement “[Evaluation is basically] an ongoing process used to determine whether lesson objectives have been met, identify reasons for the observed performance, and identify areas of modification.” The Design, Development, and Evaluation of Instructional Software, Hanafin & Peck, p. 299 See the flowchart regarding the Software Evaluation Process.
Formative Summative Formal Informal Levels of Evaluation Read about sources for Evaluating Instructional Software.
Evaluation Techniques Formal • Planned evaluation models • Formal analysis • Attitudinal questionnaires • Data collection and collation • Formal tabulation • Empirical evidence
Evaluation Techniques Informal • Advice from experts • Ideas from users • Observations • Interviews • Simplistic • Anecdotal data
Levels of Evaluation • Formative evaluation • Identification of lesson features that need modification • Ongoing process • Lesson improvement is the goal
Levels of Evaluation • Summative evaluation • Signature authority • Not used for modification • Used for purchase or adoption decisions
Types of Formative Evaluation • 1. One-to-One: • Initial lesson design and development. • Informal procedures. • Identify potential problems. • Assets of One-to-One Evaluations: • Insight gained before coding or implementation. • Identification of problems. • Expansion of lesson features or redirection.
Types of Formative Evaluation • 2. Small-Group Evaluation: • Conducted at the lesson’s completion. • Determines effectiveness. • Collection and interpretation of student performance data. • Assets of Small-Group Evaluations: • Use informal techniques & data. • Identify areas of improvement. • Generalized results from small-group interaction.
Types of Formative Evaluation • 3. Field Testing: • Conducted in actual settings. • Occurs when lessons are “final quality”. • Conducted to confirm lesson effectiveness. • Assets of Field Testing: • “Real Life” simulations of lesson use. • Relies heavily on both formal and informal techniques. • Minimal changes can be made.
Evaluating Software Used in Computer-Based Activities • Instructional Adequacy • Cosmetic Appeal • Program Adequacy • Curriculum Adequacy "The Design, Development, and Evaluation of InstructionalSoftware" by Hannafin and Peck, McMillan Publishing, 1988.
Instructional Adequacy • Directions • Content • Navigation • Text Presentation • Logical Organization
Instructional Adequacy • Does the lesson: • Have good procedures and activities? • Amplify important terms and concepts? • Emphasize important sections and content? • Promote meaningful user interaction? • Match the learner with the appropriate learning task?
Instructional Adequacy • Does the lesson: • Have intuitive navigation? • Have consistent navigation throughout the program? • Appear to be naturally organized? • Have multiple learninglevels?
Instructional Adequacy • Does the lesson: • Stress retention and transfer? • Base the pace on the learner’s characteristics? • Motivate the learner? • Correctly track and record learner performance? • Provide learner control?
Cosmetic Adequacy • Is the lesson: • Appealing in a visual sense? • Using technology effectively? • Presenting a consistent and cohesive picture? • Supporting learning via “special effects”?
Cosmetic Adequacy • Is the lesson: • Free from grammatical and mechanical errors? • Effectively communicating objectives, outcomes, and procedural information? Objectives: • Help evaluate student performance. • Communicate expectations.
Cosmetic Adequacy • Is the lesson: • Well structured? • Presenting a psychologically safe learning environment? • Supporting the student’s learning?
Program Adequacy • Is the lesson: • Free from conceptual loops? • Free from technical notes or problems? • Performing as intended? • Processing efficiently? • Appropriate for the learner?
Program Adequacy • Does the lesson: • Protect user information? Does the student only have access to their own records? • Work without technical messages which may be difficult for the students to understand?
Curriculum Adequacy • Does the lesson: • Relate to other lessons and activities? • Use consistent procedures? • Incorporate teacher & learner preferences? • Facilitate the development of other lessons? • Become obsolete quickly?
Curriculum Adequacy • Does the lesson: • Match user expectations? • Augment or supplement the curriculum? • Permit completion within the allotted time? • Require special hardware or additional software? • Provide flexibility?
“Complete” Evaluations • Courseware Evaluation Form: • Background of the user. • Lesson description. • Hardware requirements. • Evaluator’s name & date. • Criteria for above-mentioned items. • Summary recommendation. See Resources for a list of evaluation forms.
Summary Software selection and evaluation is a necessary part of teaching and learning. The selection of content-rich educational software should be based on a variety of criteria including: student’s age, language ability, reading and comprehension skills, manual dexterity, visual and spatial ability, resources (hardware & environment), the appropriateness of the software, and its ability to actively engage and sustain the learner in meaningful, interesting, relevant, and productive exchanges.